I came here for the first time in the year 2000. I came by myself at the time because I had heard a lot about the Woodford Folk Festival and it sounded like a fantastic place to come. When I arrived here I felt like it was a place that I always thought the world was going to be like.
Then each year after that I encouraged my kids to come with me and then they would bring their friends. Ten years later there were 30 of us all camping together and coming to the festival together.
Then Bill asked Justin Brown to set up the Pineapple Lounge and Justin asked me to help him with that and then asked all the kids and their friends who had been camping with us. We formed a team which became the Pineapple Lounge Team and then that turned into Special Projects.
The Sourdough Bakery and the Tea Room became part of that as well, so we’re quite a big group now.
Iggy is a baker from Boston and I built a Bakery for them in Sydney and said to him “you should come to Woodford, it would be great!” I talked to Bill about it and he said “we’d love to have a sourdough bakery on site” so we built them a little bamboo sourdough bakery for them at the front and then the next year after that we built a slice bar, so they sell slices of toast in the morning as well.
And then Lachy who is Justin’s brother, has a tea room down there as well so he does the tea room. We all do the Pineapple Lounge and some of the bamboo sculptures and things you see on site, so Bill asked me to start doing environmental protocols and temporary structures on site and we started doing things with bamboo and wrote a research folio about it.
It was quite hard to find out information about bamboo.
Everyone was very ‘secret men’s business’ about it, so the folio is to share with everyone.
It’s really interesting, I didn’t find that overseas. I’ve been to some World Bamboo Conferences and people are much more willing to share over there.
I think in Australia, because there’s not a tradition of bamboo over here and there’s not a kind of culture of bamboo, people who have the bamboo knowledge are not wanting to tell other people about it because it’s theirs and they feel special.
But we’ve flew in some fantastic bamboo friends here and we’ve been inviting different artists from overseas.
The first year we invited Jorge Cavelier. He’s a Belgian sculptor and he came and did a bridge project with us.
The next year we invited Wang Wen-Chih and did the project up at the amphitheatre with the tunnel and then the year after that we did the one at the entry. The Woven Sky is Wen-Chih’s design and we kind of support him and then the boys have both been overseas building with him in Taiwan and Japan now too.
It was really interesting having a lot of different things to set up this year.
Usually we work on one big project and this year we had lots of different ones, so there was a lot of variety in what we were doing.
I guess this is my 11th year.
For the first five years we were coming just as punters and got to experience the festival, and I think it was a big changing point for us as we got involved with the Pineapple Lounge and started to get behind the scenes. It takes it to a different level when you can be involved with the process of creating and being part of this fantastic festival.
Three years ago I was at a bit of a crossroads. I’d finished university studying as an architect and I felt this pressure that I had to go off and work in a big firm, do the right thing and follow a career.
Then I came up to Woodford and we were doing a project with Wang Wen-Chih up at the amphitheatre, Woven Sky, and it was really interesting because suddenly we were working with a large group of volunteers, having to organise it all and building with our hands outside.
It was such a fantastic experience that it kind of reaffirmed for me that was what I wanted to be doing with my life rather than sitting in an office all day working 9 til 5.
From then on I got much more involved and I was happy to be getting involved with working with Nic, my mum.
It was this thing where it kind of went “okay I’m not just working for my mum or with my mum.”
It’s not a cop out, it’s actually an opportunity for us to create something fantastic altogether as family and it’s great also because Neddy gets involved and Honey our sister also gets involved.
It’s really nice when you can work as a group as a family, and Woodford was the catalyst that allowed all of that to happen. Every year our own practice with bamboo has grown and changed and evolved and it has all come from Woodford.
So, every year we come back here and it’s this opportunity for all of us to come together again, to be together and to create something special.
And it’s an absolute playground because Bill, Amanda, Kimmy, they’re all so supportive and it gives us free reign to be able to create these crazy giant structures that we wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere.
That’s what’s so good about Woodford. It’s always just slightly outside of the box, slightly different.
It’s a place of creativity and we’re just one of many different stories. There are all these different people who come together and form what is rivalled as a fantastic festival.
I think my favourite part of the festival is more just the characters. I think you get a pretty unique opportunity to hang out with a lot of the more fun characters in Australia, I guess.
It definitely attracts a certain breed of people and everyone comes here and you can feel the energy everyone’s letting go.
I think it’s a pretty amazing thing.