The Homecoming and Healing - Camp Doogs 2014

I always had this thing with time. Imagining coming back from a trip even before I’d gone on it, time passing so quickly. Even as a little thing I used to think about this with my head against the car window, looking out into the dark. So before Doogs even happened I had imagined the car ride home, but I imagined it kind of melancholy, instead of the way it actually happened, with three new beautiful kindred spirits flying over the lands and stopping on the oldest stretch of coastline in the world together to look for a very long time at shells and see a whale and let the last part of trouble get moved away by the big swell.

But let me take you back to the start…

They started arriving one by one, and two by two. First Emlyn, then Pete and Tahlia, then Leonie, then Mladen and Andy, then everyone. All the people coming back to their homelands with new songs, or coming to the new lands to get treated in an unexpectedly special way. This year was going to be different. More bands from far away, more people. Everyone is interested in “more”, but not me, this time though more just meant a small thing getting touched by more people but not becoming grubby.

The afternoon before the big camp I took little Mladen walking through Mt Lawley, explaining all the plants I like, and learning which graffiti is made by proud little Serbians and what the back to front “c“s mean. This is one way a friendship can get made. Juliana made dinner for everyone, and we all played songs and making up words games – these are other ways friendship can get made.

So the day had finally arrived and we packed up the car. My body was still broken and moving slowly from the mulberry picking incident but I had new friends to help me. I forgot Bibby’s bag, but we are friends forever, forged in real life, and so like in his chair song, it’s never going to break. We all had a little bit of egg in our bellies and each our own ideas of what this time would be like and so we went to get Liam.

Cosi was there, and Jeff and Johnny and Loretta and Louis and Charlie and Nat and Anna and Bek and Lucas and Sebastian, all crammed in there on Charles Street and I told Liam we would tie him to the roof of the car and I touched Cosi on the arm when I said hello, and these are also all ways to get a friendship going.

So off we went on the long wide road, til we came to the thinner roads where the hills started rising a little bit up around us and where little trees dot the hills looking like they’re waiting for snow and big trees lope their branches over the bitumen and the car and the Blackwood River starts to make itself seen, little piece by little piece.

This time the entry was more official than last year, we had plastic round our wrists instead of friendship bracelets, and there were ear pieces in the ears of the people at the entrance, and George on the front line was almost too pooped already to kiss me and put his whole shoulders into the hug through the window. And driving in there were so many more people, and so many more whose faces I didn’t recognise instead of being a sea of friends advancing all at once. But gradually the familiar faces came into view, one by one, grinning out as we drove slowly round the property, through the trees, past the big dugout stage, past GirrlToyy and AL EX already spraypainting a bus, and past the free clothes tent and the Deep Doogs rave cave and past Spliffton already packed full of tents and shimmering intention.

We picked a spot far away, on the edge of everything, closest to the river, over a few fences, just before the bank sloped down into a tire swing and the water. And then it all began.

The next few days were just a sea of beauty.