Travel

What It Felt Like To Be In A Mosh Pit Post-Pandemic

Sweaty.

Over the weekend BASSINTHEGRASS, an Australian music festival set on a beach location in Darwin went ahead. There were over 14,000 people in the same place, drinking and dancing and singing and sweating, together. It was pretty incredible. 

Initially, I was a bit nervous. I mean, we spent the majority of last year indoors, only able to see a selected amount of people and now, I was about to enter into an actual crowd of sweaty human bodies and there was going to be loud music and lights. Although I don’t feel anxiety on a daily basis and I’ve never considered myself to be a socially anxious person, the thought of being swallowed up by a big crowd felt daunting to me for perhaps the first time in my life. 

We might not totally realise it, but the isolation brought on by COVID-19 affected us all. We went through this huge wave of fear together, not knowing what was going to happen next, in total unfamiliarity and isolation. If you’re feeling a bit more socially anxious, or less tolerant than usual it’s okay. If you feel on the verge of tears more often but you don’t know why that’s okay too. Maybe you’re having unexpected meltdowns, which is also totally okay. It’s good to remember that we went through something, and we have to heal.

Once I got over my initial nerves, I found the BASSINTHEGRASS to be healing for me. Or more specifically, I found crying and shout-singing to Missy Missy Higgins’s live set to be healing. She played some new songs off her latest album When The Machine Starts, as well as some of her old classics from the Sound of White, including Scar and The Special Two (I wept). People of all ages were in the crowd, from kids on their parent’s shoulders to mums and dads and grandparents, singing along to her lyrics which are guaranteed to have a different meaning for everyone. 

Bodies were sweaty and happy, as we danced and sang in unison, while festival officials hosed us down with pressure hoses in an attempt to keep us cool in the 33-degree heat. 

There’s something incredible about a sea of people singing the same words at the same time. I’d forgotten how beautiful it was to share something emotional with so many strangers and be able to hear and feel their response. 

BASSINTHEGRASS celebrated Australian culture and music in a way that I’ve never experienced at a music festival before. With huge Australian headliners such as The Jungle Giants, Lime Cordiale, The Rubens, Missy Higgins and GFLIP, the soundtrack of Australian music was perfect for the beachside setting, as was the salt ‘n’ pepper crocodile bites, Red Bears and generously salted potato spirals. 

Given that we’re not completely past covid and that safety restrictions were still in place, the festival was spread out over a huge amount of land, meaning there were always places to go sit for a bit of alone time if you were feeling overwhelmed or overheated. It was a really nice way to do a festival; watch your faves, have a boogie and then go sit on the beach, watch the sunset and munch on some yummy food while your body resets. 

I have to say, I think BASSINTHEGRASS is one of the best music festivals I’ve ever been to in Australia. I’m not sure if everyone was just super excited to be back seeing live music, but the vibes were super positive, the setting was gorgeous and I left feeling fulfilled. 

The festival was such a success, that tickets for BASSINTHEGRASS 2022 have already been released and they’re available at the incredible early bird price of $75 if you get in quick. This year was entirely sold out, with seemingly the whole of Darwin in attendance, as well as people from all over Australia. We’re just going to leave the booking link here.

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Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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