Costumed, Muddy Abandon

Costume-clad party seekers gathered together last Saturday to dance the night away at a mud-ravaged farming property two hours north of Canberra, home to the annual, eagerly-awaited Secret Garden Festival. Pants were deemed optional by event organisers but costumes were compulsory, making for a day filled with artistic voyeurism. Crayola crayons proved to be 2012’s most popular costume of choice, while an older male dressed as a thumb-sucking baby took the title for the festival’s creepiest selection.

The previous day’s bad weather pushed back the opening of the gates and forced a painful cancellation of all bands; a sting effectively relieved by the welcomed addition of cider and cocktails to an already substantial line-up of free alcohol. Scheduled bands included perennial Woroni favourites New Navy and local Sydney band Sticky Fingers. Neither disheartened by the change of plans nor worried by the apparent destruction of decorations, revelers came together despite the unknown DJs’ questionable music tastes.

As the beats got heavier, the free booze flowed. Gumboots and Doc Martens sunk into the mud and the festival’s crazy costumes became mildly acceptable as more and more Batlow cider and Yellowglen Spritz were consumed. Midnight hit and the Aston Shuffle took to the stage – about the same time that it was revealed that there had been a clear miscalculation of the amount of alcohol festival hooligans could actually consume! This second blow didn’t seem to faze the drunk (or drugged) gardeners as the dancing, frivolity and good times continued well into the early hours of the morning.

As payment to the party gods, partygoers were struck by hangovers and blistering sun as they arose on Sunday morning. Headaches and stomach pains were cured only by the smell of Camden Rotary’s bacon and egg stall and the thoughts of bigger and better costumes for 2013. Fingers-crossed next year’s Secret Garden is less Glastonbury-esque.

Secret Garden is an annual non-profit festival organised to raise money for various charities including the Sarah Hilt foundation, which supports those affected by Meningococcal disease.