2023’s Dragon Dreaming Festival marked a return to the more usual Sep/Oct time for the event, held over the October long weekend. This was our fourth Dragon – we’ve been before in 2017, 2018 and 2022.
Based on the success of last year, we again flew my mum (Nanna) down from QLD to look after Ollie. This year we were determined to make up for some of the minor issues we had last time. One of those was having to camp in the far away campgrounds due to arriving us only arriving on Friday, the official starting day. This year we sprung for ‘early-bird’ tickets that allowed you to arrive on the Thursday. This gave us the ability to find a spot in the camping spots close to the event itself. It was louder, but much more convenient.
We all met up at 7.30am in a Macca’s carpark, including some new friends of friends that would be joining us. After a quick breakfast, we got into a convoy and headed for Wee Jasper through Uriarra Crossing.
Somehow the van towing the camper ended up at the head of the convoy, but we still made good time and managed to get to Wee Jasper without incident in a little over an hour. The weather cleared up and by 9.30am it was starting to get very warm.
We got to the festival entrance and found the staging area to be fairly empty compared with previous years. There was about a 30 minutes wait, and then we all slowly made our way through past the ticketing area and into the festival area, waiting on the side of the road so we could continue to drive in as a convoy.
We were guided to the main campsite and found an area towards the back that still had enough space for our 6 cars and the additional people that would be joining us the next day. The space was on a little bit of a slope, but we managed to get the camper perpendicular to the low point and we jacked up that wheel with 3 blocks of wood. It wasn’t perfectly level, but it was much better than what we’ve had in a tent or in the van at other campsites.
This was the first time we ended up using the large, pole-supported awning at the rear of the camper. It was also the first time we set up and used the spare room that attaches to the bottom of the flipped over bed section. Both of these were very simple and easy to set up, and the big awning in particular was excellent in a group environment like Dragon.
One of the things we didn’t realise when setting up was how good the view from the Ultimate camper would be out towards the lake. The elevated position of the camper meant that we could look directly over the van roof and see the entire lake laid out and framed by the bed window. This higher up position also captured any cool breeze that was passing through during some warm days (31 degrees max), something that the people in tents weren’t able to enjoy.
That first day was excellent, with a lot of drinks had around the campsite (and a couple of naps) followed by a brief swim towards the end of the day. There was only one stage open on the Thursday playing some fairly chill tunes, and the music shut down at 12am. We put together our “official” fat bondage dragon mascot and mounted him to a pole way above our camper as a directional aid.
This was the first day we put together our inaugural ‘powered doof cart’. I had brought along a spare 135Ah AGM battery that used to be in the van and mounted in a cheap battery box in a beach trolley we use sometimes for Ollies gear. I then mounted the van’s centre console fridge into the cart, added a few bright multi-coloured LEDs and charging cables, and then we had super convenient access to cold drinks even near the dance floor.
The only real issue was the weight of the old battery – this would definitely benefit from a lithium swap, but for something thrown together the day before the festival it worked very well.
The next day brought great weather as well. As the proper ‘official’ day to start the festival, a lot of new people turned up – either friends or friends of friends. Our friends had kindly set up a bunch of strategic ‘filler’ tents that reserved a space for these new entries. It worked well, with no one in the group ending up in the further campsites.
The rest of the days were a blur of dancing, drinking, swimming in the freezing lake and forgetting to eat meals occasionally. One highlight was watching several fishing boats just happen to wander over to the swimming area where all the skinny-dippers happened to be. They got chased off eventually by a lifeguard, but that afternoon dancing in waist deep water to some chill tunes was possibly a favourite moment for me.
I managed to set up a shower with a pump and some hose, fed from the (cold) water in the tank under the van. This worked well and just reached to the ensuite tent, allowing for a brief, brisk refresh after a big night without having to head down to the lake.
Unfortunately we got some bad news on the Sunday which put a damper on the last night at the festival, but we got packed up and on the road pretty quick the next morning without any incident.
A big thank you to all of our friends that attended DD with us and made it one of the best times we’ve had in quite a while. It really is a different experience with more friends, and something I think we both had needed.
Boring technical bits
This camping trip was our last shakedown before a much longer roadtrip later in the year. We fully loaded both the van and the camper to see how it towed and manoeuvred with a full load. This included a new pre-built drawer system installed in the back, as well as the second captain’s chair left in the middle row and both water tanks fully filled in the van and camper. There were no issues we found on the twisty and poorly maintained roads on the way to Wee Jasper.
Petrol use was fairly consistent with our last Wee Jasper trip, even though we were a bit more loaded up this time.
I still have a bunch of things to get done before we do any major travelling, but I’m confident now that there’s nothing essential or major that we’ll be missing for future travel.
As with all of these festivals, a lot of the photos we took have people in them that didn’t ask to be included in my little blog, so these photos are just the ones that we took with no faces in them or just of the festival as a whole.