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Smiles at Fron Voyage, Nannup, 2016

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Smiles at Fron Voyage, Nannup, 2016

Andrew Ryan

Fron Voyage m’fkers! The last time I went to a festival at that secluded little property outside of Nannup, I made a list of places of note in which I sat. I came back, two years later, the festival different and smaller, a familiar crew and organizational team (the super chill, community minded hilarious badasses in the Good Time Arts/Doogs collaboration team), and golly, what a treat.

It is often said about camping festivals such as this that you are taken out of your reality in to something else. And in some ways, I feel like that could be true, but I also think it’s like… you are, for a short time, joining your needs and desires up with those of similarly minded people, in a beautiful setting that reminds one of the existence of lifestyles outside of the one you’ve ended up in… if you feel like you’ve left reality to go there and have a real nice time, it means whatever your reality is outside of that leaves you wanting.

I reckon, anyway.

And it’s funny how, in that experience, I was able to forget the ills of the world for longer than usual. When you’re trying to feel your way through bushland on a cloudless, no-moon night to get to the place where your water is, which is also where your big coat is, because your friend is a bit chilly after lending her only coat to someone else who was a bit chilly, well, you’re in true communal-survival mode, and there is nothing quite nothing like communal-survival to keep you going. It is indescribably more life-affirming than sitting on a tram taking the same journey you’ve taken at the same time most days for the last however long you’ve had your job. Nature is good for the health.

So a list, to keep my theme of that property going. It was a very different experience to last time I was there: less intoxicated, that’s for sure… more cognizant, less overwhelmed, more comfortable. Older, too, I guess. Brain is a little different to how it was a few years back. Was nice to revisit faces I haven’t seen since then and see how the various sparkles in everyone’s eyes have evolved….

Some of the Places I Smiled At Fron Voyage:

- at the top of an unknown hill, in the dark. When Eva and I got lost, singing The Nanny theme song at each other, both of us enjoying the act of singing that loudly and freely and passionately, so distracted by the joyful interaction that we got ourselves lost.. that was where we found ourselves. We could hear Doctopus clearly, though we couldn’t see them through the trees… we shouted at the tops of our voices. I think I wanted a magic connection with everyone we couldn’t see. I have no idea if it worked. We eventually followed what Eva remembered of Amber’s travel advice, and got back to our camping area without injury. Stimulating journey.

- at our Office, the fold-out chair and tables Pete and I trekked across the country with a few months ago, used this time to host some of our bestest buddies in the world at the front of the van at our campsite, animated conversation abounding, Shiny Joe and Pete and Nick and Ring and Amber and Eva and Bridge and Chris and Ana and anyone else, chatting and shouting, excited and happy and comfortable, drunk too, what a pleasure to be in fresh air even though I smoked tobacco heaps, what a pleasure to be back with some amazing pals, feeling at home on the fold out table and chairs surrounded by the people, pleasure.

- by the edge of the water, the beeliar, listening to it, in the dark, almost blind but for Ring’s special spotlight torch, looks like a theatre light, the water so loud. The bush across the water looked like a wall, and I pondered over how strange it must have been for the European settlers who decided to make camp in this country, to be affronted by a landscape so different to what they knew. I thought about the Europeans who, individually, joined in treaties with local groups, sharing resources… but once the colony started to expand, boatloads of more Europeans getting dropped off every few months… well… treaties expired, were broken, the colonial land sold off, the new owners leaving the first caretakers with few options. Where are the traditional land owners of this property now? Do they know their birthright?

- in the van, waking up on Sunday, a wonderful evening behind me, a comfortable sleep on our blow-up mattress, Pete looking all disheveled and gorgeous in the sun, looking out the window and seeing Amber packing up her tent, early morning rise, I went back to bed for a little more snoozing, so sleepy and comfortable on the bed in the back of the van, smiling myself back in to a lovely slumber. I missed out on breakfast at the Odell camp though, cheeses and meats by gahd, I would have smiled if I’d eaten that breakfast with Nick and his two little kids, which leads to the next one…

- hulla hooping with Archer and Ziggy on the sand in front of the stage! Such a good activity for people to do between band sets, get some energy pumping, entertain the children. I remembered some tricks I learnt when I did circus skill classes in highschool (hey, I’ve always loved trying fun things- I can firetwirl on stilts if I have to as a result), showed them off to the two children I was watching over, Archer, the oldest, was like “that’s cooooool” and I was like “hell yeah a 5 year old thinks I’m cool keep doin what yr doin tahlia”, that kid is cooooool. I had a lot of fun, so many smiles for and at those boys, Ziggy so little with such long hair, throwing the hoop because he couldn’t quite be bothered getting the hang of twirling it around his body. Such sweet, innocent fun, the darkness is so easily uplifted when a tiny little human is holding on to your hand and looking all the way up to your adult face, placing their trust in your protection and guidance, makes you swallow everything else for the sake of seeing them smile. And it gives me such a massive smile.

Fron was lovely, Fron was good, Fron does things just like they should.

The music was sick too. Read Lydon’s review for that side of the story <3