The folks behind Golden Plains know a thing or two about organising festivals. Through a combination of practical decision-making (packing the lineup with a mix of surprises and crowd-pleasers, then making sure the right band is on stage at the right time) and so-crazy-it-just-might-work ideas like actually listening (then thoughtfully responding) to feedback from fans, the organisers manage to make putting on a festival seem easy. But what about us, the punters? How do we make enjoying a festival seem easy?
You'd think that arriving early would be the best way to minimise queues and up your chances of nabbing a prime campsite, and it is. Sort of. It's worth remembering that A) this is the best weekend of many thousands of Victorians' years, and B) most of them are very keen on getting in to Bush Camp.
Yes, Bush Camp is great, but here's a secret: there are a lot of great campsites at Golden Plains. Sleep in, leave at a civilised hour, and you might find you can drive all the way to the gate without stopping, as the queues full of super-keen festival veterans have had a chance to clear.
In recent years, organisers have put a lot of effort in to creating more shaded areas to camp in, such as Blue Gums and Tom Mankeys. If you're too late for Bush Camp (the prime possie behind the stage), head there.
Legend has it, in the wooden toilet block to the right of the stage there is one cubicle worth waiting longer for. Fondly called The Royal Throne, it’s decorated with wallpaper, a lampshade, a mirror and air freshener, and supposedly has a superior loo, too.
The festival’s BYO policy means you don’t have to suffer through never-ending bar queues. Fill up your esky with bags of ice, available for sale throughout the festival at the stall next to the Ferris wheel. When you can’t stomach any more tinnies, head to the Pink Flamingo Bar and order their signature cocktail of vodka, pink grapefruit and, we quote, “some other stuff” (don’t question it). We're also rather fond of the Campari-based options from the recently-added Eric's Bar.
Food options are plentiful and available from two main hubs – the International Food Court and South Bank Food Court. Trekking up from Melbourne are food-truck favourites Beatbox Kitchen (and their endearingly grumpy staff), Taco Truck and a host of others, but don’t overlook the community-run Tucker Tent either. Their bacon and egg sandwiches can save lives.
Over the past few years, Inspiration Point has become increasingly popular, to the point where last year, hundreds of punters packed the point to cheer as the sun went down. Sometimes you wonder if it's not better than watching the stage.
It can get really very cold. While it is likely you will be wearing your favourite Beer Coat, make sure you also pack an actual coat. As well as thick socks, a beanie and a few jumpers. Then remember to go back to your campsite and actually put them on before it gets freezing.
It's not rocket science: leave either really early or really late. Traffic will always be tough, so make sure you take a car you’re comfortable in. TAC’s Vanessa bus sets up on-site every year offering breath testing, so stay safe and pay it a visit before hitting the road.
You know when to leave and where to camp, find out what to pack.