Meredith Music Festival Mascot 2002
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Meredith is a small town halfway between Geelong and Ballarat, 90 kms due west of Melbourne. A pretty, distinctly rural Victorian town, it goes about its business quietly below the foothills of the Brisbane Ranges. One sweltering December afternoon ten years ago, local farmer Jack Nolan rode his tractor through disused farmland at the back of his family's property. This part of the land hadn't been seen by humans for years - it's steep hills and thick vegetation had rendered it unsuitable for grazing. At the end of a typically long day on the land, Jack had decided to go a different way home.

The consistent drone of the diesel engine disturbed the pristine environment. Through the bracken, over the granite, the hazy heat of summer began to play tricks with Jack's mind. He became dizzy and lost his sense of direction, the foliage became thicker and his trusty tractor started behaving like a spooked horse. He ploughed through the bush, branches flying as the tractor sped up. With a resounding thump that scared the animal life for miles the flighty Massey-Ferguson stopped. Suddenly a sense of the other-world overwhelmed him. He became instantly and totally aware of his surroundings. He wiped the sweat from his eyes and was amazed and exhilarated by what he saw. The heat-haze had cleared, so had the thick bush. Jack was on top of a plateau, staring wide-eyed at the most beautiful sight. He had stumbled upon a natural amphitheatre of immense dimensions.

"Hmmmm", thought Jack. "Build a stage, whack a heap of bands on over a weekend, provide free camping and cheap food and there could be a totally independent festival of great live music every year."

The MEREDITH MUSIC FESTIVAL was born.....

1991 was the festival's first year. A small but die-hard core of several hundred culturalists enjoyed a weekend of pure musical indulgence, devoid of the hassles of city living. They parked their cars on the site, very excited after the hour-and-a-half road trip from Melbourne and pitched their tents. They revelled in the atmosphere of free living, bring-your-own and no curfews. No grotty carpet, no bar queues, no taxi fares home. Something was brewing.

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1991 poster
1991 poster
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1992 brought a crowd three times the size. Word had spread. They flocked to see the rock, the roll, the jazz, the punk, the funk, the ska, and the stuff that's beyond description being thumped through the giant sound system, in the usually tranquil environs of the lush natural setting.

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1992 poster
1992 poster
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1993 came around and this time the crowd doubled. This was the year, Meredith historians agree, that the Festival really pricked the consciousness of fun-lovers everywhere. Word of mouth brought people from Sydney, Adelaide, Tasmania and even from the heavens (two brothers flew in by helicopter, complete with esky and tent). A bigger stage, a bigger PA, the best bands around and that start-of-summer-excitement were the ingredients for two of the best days on the entertainment calendar. This was also the year that the World Famous Meredith Gift was conceived, due to one of the bands being late.

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1993 poster
1993 poster
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1994 was another treat. Organisers were now being inundated with requests from bands to play at the Festival. The bill included several bands who have had great years since; Dirty Three, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, Powdermonkeys, Fireballs and The Fauves to name a few. Anyone who witnessed the Dirty Three's soaring sonic emotions swirling around among the giant Ghost Gums or the Powdermonkeys seemingly never-ending incendiary rock workout at 3 in the morning got their money's worth.

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1994 poster
1994 poster
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1995 hit and the organiser realised that the Festival was growing out of control. As a result tickets were limited for the first time, and sold on a first in, first served basis. There were no tickets sold at the gate. It sold out completely two weeks prior to the event. It was unfortunate for Festival regulars and for others who couldn't get a ticket, but organisers held firm. The site couldn't cope with many more people and plus, the grassroots, intimate and special appeal of the Festival needed to remain intact. The Festival has always been run under a policy of "better before bigger".

A dam had been put in, the stage was made bigger again and Leaping Larry L of RRR was installed as the host on the Sunday. Standout sets were put on by Magic Dirt, Rebecca's Empire, Spiderbait, Chris Wilson and Shane O'Mara, The Mark of Cain, Ricaine, Joel Silbersher and Charlie Owen, and the rain on Saturday was stopped by Combo La Revelacion, a 10 piece Latin-American band who inspired a 500-person conga line. (They've been back every year since, and consistently draw the biggest crowd to the hill).The two brothers discarded the helicopter that year and arrived in a 10-berth motor home, complete with colour TV and all other mod-cons. They parked out the very back and put on a Lebanese BBQ which was attended by everyone in their paddock. Close by a large group of fun-lovers from the Jan Juc area had set up their own bush discotheque, complete with mirror ball dangling from a tree and dozens of fancy-dressed groovers. It is rumoured that one young man from this group did not see any bands at all.

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1995 poster
1995 poster
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1996, and for a while there it looked as though there would be no Festival this year and maybe forever. Tragically one of the three founding organisers was struck by a catastrophic illness, and a decision was made to abandon the Festival. Offers of help came pouring in; the idea of an 'Indoor Meredith' was floated and then sunk, the local townspeople's generosity was unbelievable and after much soul-searching it was decided to go ahead with the Sixth Annual Meredith Music Festival as a private benefit and partial fund-raiser for it's sick founder.

1996's Festival was a beauty. The quality and diversity of bands stepped up a notch, as did the prizes in the Gift (an unconventional foot race where prizes double for nude or underpanted place getters). Tex, Don and Charlie provided a genuine highlight, as did Snout, The Dumb Earth, The Mark Of Cain, Paradise Motel, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, Chris Wilson and Shane O'Mara and the many other first-rate local acts. The weather was fine, the facilities were better and again the Festival sold well in advance.

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1996 poster
1996 poster
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1997 was another soldout event. Jebediah made their way over from WA, Custard and Not From There came from Brisbane to play, Crow came from Sydney, the legendary X reformed and totally rocked, and the return of Dirty Three from parts unknown was something to behold. It was also the debut of a couple of Meredith favourite - special guest MCs Merrick and Rosso, and the wonderful Matt Walker and Ashley Davies. Tex Perkins came back with The Cruel Sea to a great reception and the first electronic act, Snog played.

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1997 poster
1997 poster
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1998 saw a few innovations - the introduction of MEREDOOF - Meredith's late night beats-fest thumped till dawn and was a total winner. Breakdancing was witnessed by several thousand astonished punters - the Wickid Force Breakers put down the cardboard and spun on their heads (don't know the technical term). Honeysmack, Frontside and Slieker totally slaughtered the big MEREDOOF crowd.

This year also saw the inception of The Pink Flamingo Yacht Club Bar. Meredith of course couldn't possibly have just a beer tent, no, no, no. A swank, late-nite and all day bar on the hill which glowed pink all night complete with nautical d–cor, with your hosts Commodore Pink Jazz and Commodore Bahamas Lite. Musical highlights were very many but especially San Francisco's The Make-up were just plain the best band in the world during their set. The Meanies reformed and basically headlined to a very full amphitheatre who lapped it up. Wally fronted up on the Sunday with Even. Custard were great again, Sunday morning was a Gospel kinda thing with Kerri Simpson and Chris Wilson. Other notables were Something For Kate, Bodyjar, and Shihad.

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1998 poster
1998 poster
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1999 and The Pink Flamingo was under new management. Klaus and Heidi turned it into the Pink Flamingo Ski Lodge and served cocktails with their legendary Alpine FriendlinessŃ. It's fair to say although the festival was again soldout and everyone had fun, strange weather meant a constant mood of expectancy hovered over the weekend. Or maybe it was just me. The weather will do that to you when you are actually out in it all weekend after six months of being stuck indoors mostly. International guests Cat Power and The Donnas were superb in different ways, Shihad rode the crest of popularity with a stupendous set, The Avalanches were a popular winner and Sixfthick nearly stole the whole show. A few things got a little wacky here and there over the course of the twenty acts. (Note to self - get more sleep before this year's event). Anyway, no-one seemed to mind too much. We set high standards here at Meredith Control.

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1999 poster
1999 poster
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Meredith 2000 was our tenth year, and we celebrated along with the big crowd and massive line-up of acts. Saturday night was just astonishing: Tim Rogers, Combo La Revelacion, Regurgitator, Spiderbait, Resin Dogs and then MEREDOOF. The Posies duo Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer got back together and made it to Meredith, and a heap more did as well, including Paul Dempsey, Augie March, The Fauves, John Butler Trio, Rocket Science, Testeagles, Porkers etc. Funny guys Dave Hughes and Greg Fleet cracked gags on the Sunday and The Gift was won by Richo the Plumber (three time champ).

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Meredith 2001 was big. In the month preceding the festival the heaviest rainfalls in decades soaked into the site and come Saturday morning it was bedlam. There are only two access roads and by midmorning both of them had become totally inaccessible, despite organiser having called in the excavators the week before to dig the sludge out and replace it with rock, in places to depths of six feet. Eventually everybody got in and there were almost too many highlights to mention, but we‘ll try: Warped kicked off proceedings by arriving in front of the stage in a Valiant Charger and getting out, clambering up and rocking very very hard, particularly considering they had driven directly from Sydney to Meredith overnight. Loopy genius Bonnie Prince Billy eased out a sublime mid-afternoon set. Jon Butler Trio filled the amphitheatre in the late afternoon with their primal jam. Rocket Science made their Meredith hat trick and were one of the inners over the weekend; similarly Augie March exorcised some past Meredith demons with a sweet sweet hour just on dusk. Combo La Revelacion started their famous Latin party, again. TISM were TISM. You Am I started with a cover of Teenage Fanclub and rocked and rolled their way through one of the most Meredith memorable gigs of the whole 11 years. Dexter and Robbie from the Avalanches played a DJ set which turned the place into Party Central and really were pretty downright amazing. We think that will be the sort of gig where far more people will claim to have been there than there actually was; it was legendary before it had even finished. Wetmusik‘s gents thumped out the last MEREDOOF to the delight of several thousand hard-core partiers. Sunday was cruisey; Tai Chi was a huge success just after breakfast and will become a Meredith constant. Silver Ray were wonderful, and Bob Log III, well, that was one of the best things ever. Anywhere. We loved him. Come back please Mr Log. The Dave Graney Show was ideal for a lazy Sunday afternoon, someone won The Gift and The Drugs kicked in just when everyone thought they'd had enough.

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2001 poster
2001 poster
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Meredith 2002 looms large. It'll be great.

2002 poster
2002 poster
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