For the first time, the Otway region of Victoria (located around Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road) will host a music and arts festival over four dark and dirty weekends, with a program championing live music, performance and visual art and discussions.
Every Saturday night, the festivities will begin on the beach, where visitors will gather around bonfires the size of rooms, contained with huge artist-built braziers. From there, audiences will move into performance spaces, or explore the town of Apollo Bay, which will come to life with roving performers and projections.
You may know Apollo Bay as a summer seaside haven, but in winter, things are very different in the town where the wild forests of the Otway National Park meet the sea. "If you're going to have a festival in Apollo Bay in winter there is no point hiding from the elements," says festival director Roderick Poole. "The festival is very much aimed at adventurous spirits ready to take on a challenge; to embrace the harsh environment and celebrate the beauty of the elements at their extremes."
Described as a festival "not for the faint-hearted", Poole has curated an impressive selection of artists: the headliner for the opening weekend (Jul 1-2) is musician Mick Turner (best-known as the guitarist from the Dirty Three) perform, and on the second weekend (Jul 15-16), the inimitable Japanese-Australian performance artist Yumi Umiumare will unleash her distinctive butoh-cabaret work on audiences. The third weekend (Jul 29-30) is programmed by the Apollo Bay Writer's Festival, and will feature talks by Michael Leunig and Clementine Ford. The final weekend will go out with flames, with the burning of a festival sculpture and a performance by 100 singers.