Just a week or so out from the sophomore Beyond The Valley, we asked Oscar Dawson from Holy Holy to detail the do’s and don’ts of the festival. What we got back was one big don’t; and it’s a hell of a story.
Oh Phillip Island; oh the Great Southern Ocean; oh sunstroke and inebriation early in the afternoon; oh the allure of a cliffside walk and a plunge into the water. What could possibly go wrong?
It may indeed be fortuitous that Beyond The Valley has changed its location for this, its sophomore year. Previously situated on an exposed, yet picturesque, coastal location on Phillip Island, jutting out of the southern coast of Victoria, the festival has now moved to Lardner, east of Melbourne. And all the better, for the idiots were led by example last year; and such a fine example was set by none other than myself.
After a sunny set on the main stage, and a few empty-stomach whiskeys, what better to do than to clamber under the security fence, and wobble over the grassy plains toward the salty ocean water. A fairly steep climb down a rocky hill (otherwise known as a ‘cliff’) was not enough for me and my fellow traveller, Timothy Carroll. No, with drink still in hand we clambered across boulders to the foaming waters edge, and further out to the nearest point.
As the sun beat hard on their pink musician’s skin, a small rocky outcrop in the ocean beckoned these two wanderers. With swell just bubbling over it, and some onlookers goading the pair on, they strip to underwear and delve into the water. Shocked by its Antarctic temperature, the swimmers are jolted into action. They confidently stride out to the outcrop, only to find that the bubbling swell is in fact rather larger and more menacing that it looked form thirty metres away. The Southern Ocean is a harsh mistress and pays no heed to the listless bodies of inebriated musicians.
Tim flowed with the waves, alright; but I crashed directly into the sharp rocks of this outcrop, and as the blood poured from my foot, the next obvious thought was; ‘shark’. Apparently they can smell blood from miles away (or something).
Clambering upon the rocks provided two things; momentary relief, and a chance to feel afraid again as we planned our next move. Other than an airlift out of here, there was no choice but to somehow re-enter the maelstrom. Tim gracefully dives in; I awkwardly lower myself, and am ambushed by the push and pull of the swell, which not only forces me off the rocks, but then crashes me back into them. I am swiftly learning a lesson in life, and in later years perhaps I will be able to draw an analogy. Now, however, I am shitting myself.
Briefly forgetting to swim, and remembering that I am pursued by (imaginary?) sharks, I assume the ‘emergency backstroke’ position, as this allows me to visually apprehend any oncoming predator. It also prevents me from seeing where I’m going, and I soon realise I am parallel to the shore. Re-orientating myself, I now endeavour to point at the rocks on shore, and realise, to my dismay, that people are still watching.
As I near the shore, a new problem emerges; of all the great beaches in Australia, we have picked one without sand. As the swell helps me to escape the water, in does so by again dashing me against the boulders. There are dark clouds and silver linings all around us, and finally, with my torn foot, I find a hold and pull myself up. Tim is already on the shore; I try to regain dignity, and walk toward him. Through my inebriated eyes I have a gashed foot, and in my hazy memory, it was a mammoth journey. On New Years Eve, these two travellers are washed onto a deserted beach, so we lie in the sun’s glare, to both calm down and dry our undies off.
After spending the rest of the New Year evening wandering around the festival site in a somewhat bemused fashion, we return to Melbourne. The next day, as though from a nightmare, I awake to a sharp pain in my foot. Not quite as sharp as the one in my head. The gash is real; well, sort of. It is a small cut. And it is swollen and smelly. Great; not only do I miss out on the glory (and sympathy) brought about by a properly gashed foot, but I will alienate others when I admit that it is infected.
To add salt to the wound, later, after recounting the story to our band mates, they seem bemused. As it turned out, they were the onlookers; and from their vantage point, our odyssey more looked like two mates having a paddle in a relatively calm pond. In essence, they don’t give a shit about my ordeal. And nor should they.
Thankfully, no one need take the plunge like we did at the next edition of Beyond The Valley, given its new location. Although I’m sure that New Year’s festival goers won’t have to work too hard to put themselves at peril. Take it easy and don’t be too silly. See the New Year in and make sure you get to the next one. And, at 4am on January the 1st, don’t forget to keep running from the imaginary sharks.
Beyond The Valley kicks off in Lardner, VIC on December 29th till the 1st of Jan. It’s sold out. Sorry friends.
Holy Holy are about to hit the road too. Check them on at these dates:
Friday 15 January – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Saturday 16 January – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Thursday 21 January – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Friday 22 January – Fat Controller, Adelaide
Friday 29 January – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Saturday 30 January – The Triffid, Brisbane
Get your tickets here.