Our first van festival -Dragon Dreaming 2017

So we went to a hippie festival! Dragon Dreaming is an annual ‘bush doof’ held on the shore of Lake Burrinjuck in NSW, about 1.5hrs from Canberra. This was actually the longest we’d ever spent camping in the van – three consecutive nights without killing each other. I’m not sure it counts though, as we didn’t actually go to bed on one of those nights – we partied well into the next day and watched the sun rise over the hills around Wee Jasper, NSW before crashing to sleep at around 10am.

Sure was a nice location for a festival though.

We started this epic weekend by heading towards Wee Jasper late Friday morning with a small MG Midget behind us (hi Casey).

Small Midget, Tall Black Van

We got to the festival gates just as the heavens opened up, and were immediately told to wait in a staging area. It took well over an hour to get into the festival grounds while it was raining and the organisers slowly ticked people off the list. It wasn’t helped by the huge police presence just outside the staging areas. We got pulled over and the police dog had a sniff through our van. Poor thing had to deal with the smell ofย  our cooked brakes after the long descent into the Wee Jasper valley. (Despite the checks, it sure seemed like there was a lot of illicit substances that made it into the festival. Apparently vacuum sealing substances with a benchtop food vacuum sealer is the way to go, according to some random guy we bumped into one night).

Cozy tent stage, all carpeted with cushions everywhere.

We got into the festival grounds and found a very decent site in a good position. A bit of maneuvering between other tents and vans and we were set up very quickly. We couldn’t escape the rain though – we still had Casey’s tent to help set up. This trip was the first time we used the portable ‘tailgate awning’ bought from eBay. With the help of some additional more-powerful suction cups (also from eBay), it works fairly well, but is definitely not suited to windy conditions. The poles and strings are too light duty to stay in place, and the awning itself seems designed to catch as much wind as possible. Still, given we’re not able to have a permanently mounted awning due to height constraints in our apartment garage, this is a good second choice. I might look around for some more heavy-duty poles and guideropes and see if that fixes things.

Tailgate awning over the side of the van

The festival itself was exactly what you’d expect from a music festival in the middle of a paddock in country NSW playing only electronic dance music from bands you’ve never heard of. We had a great time – highly recommended. You’ll find the friendliest people at these things; everyone was willing to help a hand setting up or looking after a stranger that’s had a big night. It got quite cold at night, down to 6 degrees at one stage. I think that just made everyone dance harder.

We had some very late nights and were very appreciative of the van when it started raining and the wind picked up on the last night. There were a few tents that collapsed or blew over on this night. The fridge worked fantastically as always, and the solar panel only needed a couple of hours each day to fully top up the battery. The best thing about Dragon Dreaming in my opinion is their BYOG policy – you get to bring in your own alcohol, which meant no paying the ridiculous prices for cans you find at other music festivals.ย  In the spirit of the festival, we had installed LED fairy lights throughout the interior of the van that we left on all night. It made it very simple to find the van in the early hours of the morning when stumbling up the road. We also draped them over ourselves when at any of the stages to make it easier for friends to find each other.

The first day before everyone had arrived at one of the three stages.

After three nights we still weren’t ready to kill each other, so all in all a very good trip. It was pouring on the way home and the mud was getting pretty thick on the roads by that stage, but no issues for the van. We did see a few utes and vans slip off the dirt road at some points though, though that was probably more due to bad driving than anything else. Once home and into a shower, we pretty much slept the next day all the way through. A great first festival, and hoping a sign of things to come for our next one in December.

Some fat old white guy
Lake was fantastic, but too cold for normal people to swim (Rosie swam)
6am after a night of partying
Bright clear sunshine on most days, but still with a nip of cold in the air.
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