Three and a half hours out of Perth on the Brookton highway, through fields of canola and wheat, there is a sleepy little town named Hyden that lives in the shadow of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, the Wave Rock. For the last six years this small town opens up its doors and arms to an 800 strong crowd to celebrate the Wave Rock Weekender, a tent village filled with smiles and laughter and music, film and art and dancing - oh so much dancing!
This year’s Weekender marked the first occasion of the festival selling to capacity at a comfortable 800, which is just the right number for maximum fun without over-crowding, and the organisers intend to keep it that way. Similar to Victoria's Meredith Music Festival and its sister event, Golden Plains, Wave Rock Weekender has minimal advertising and promotion, relying on word of mouth to draw in a collective of devout and loyal followers prepared to drive into the beautiful heartlands of WA and leave their festival egos and preconceptions at the gate.
This year's line-up brought, as the weekender is want to do, an eclectic mix of musicians, from the rocking sounds of Perth’s Sugar Army, nailing their set early on the first night and really setting a standard, to another Perth's resident rock goddess Abbe May, whose bluesy howls bounced off the ancient rocks.
East Coast flavours ran amok in the stomping gut-bucket sounds of Brothers Grim, like four mad medicine men flogging wares to fix your woman up and make your hair grow thick and strong. The East also threw over some salsa in the form of the Puta Madre Brothers; three grubby buggers with Spanish fly in their blood and the skills to make booties shake with their electro-flamenco beat down. The Tallest Man on Earth caused women to swoon and men to sit in awe as the Swede and his guitar held the crowd in the palm of their hand while a very special west coast welcome went out to the captivating Clairy Browne and the Bangin’ Rackettes whose ballsy sass and pure sex appeal had jaws and panties dropping (we can only assume).
But music is not the only thing that the great folk at Soul Highway have on offer. The twenty-four-hour cinema makes a great place to watch documentaries, lost, re-found or new born Australian films, or maybe while away the hours with a nap.
There was also a whole lot of sitting atop the rock to be done. On top of Wave Rock around midnight, under an ink black and blue sky with the universe bearing you away; mystical beautiful things happen that cannot be explained to those who have not seen it.
Over the three days we were very happy to join the Wave Rock Weekender in celebrating their sixth birthday, and we really cannot wait to see it turn seven.