for the weekend, i got myself down to the submerge chill out festival at the opoeia eco arts retreat. chillout pretty much means just the music you get at chill stages at various dance / trance parties. This effectively means a lot of sitting around wondering what the few gyrating people on the dance floor are on. to tell the truth, while i enjoyed some of the music, and the headliners were very good at creating vast mysterious trippy aural landscapes, the music was pretty much a background to the setting.

It could be that i missed my annual confest commune with the trees fix, but the beauty of Opoei’s forests outstripped whatever the talented djs were doing on their decks. Opoei is located in the Greater Otway National Park. It doesnt have the majesty of some of the old fern tree covered temperate rainforests within the Otways proper but Opoei allows you to camp amongst densely grown and quite tall gum trees. Located in a valley, you are surrounded by forests that extend above and around you to form a vast green bowl. At night, as it was clear and there was a full moon, the place became an entanglement of silver shadows, the trees on the hilltops blending in together to rival the few clouds that remained over the hill-line.

So i spent a lot of time looking at trees, especially during the long sunset on Saturday.

Opoei’s other great asset is an old natural spring fed concrete 50m swimming pool. It has an odd design with sloping sides and a very shallow shallow end. It was at one end of the pool that the main stage was setup with a couple of octagonal projection screens for visuals. The holy cow chai tent was also there to one side along the length of the pool. On Sunday, it got warm enough to float around and look up at trees with the sound system playing a mix of dub reggae and odd electronica.

Crowdwise, the chillout festival wasnt as well attended as it could have been. The chai tent was rarely at maximum capacity but the predominantly hippy / feral / fire twirling / new age healing workshop crowd was great, very friendly (as there were probably less than 300 people all up) and as you would expect, very relaxed. Myself being one of them of course, which could be why on Sunday arvo I finally cracked Rubenstein’s Revenge* by the simple method of making longer throws and slowing the entire pattern down.

* reasonably complex three ball juggling pattern

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