Sydney is a big place. I’m not just saying that as someone who happens to live there and therefore thinks it’s their duty to tell everyone how important their hometown is. It’s actually big. The 34th largest city in the world, in fact, if you’re judging by land area (which may not seem that great, until you consider how many more than 34 cities there are in the world). Why am I telling you this? Because in the last year or so, I’ve gained a new appreciation of how large Sydney is, because my boyfriend lives at more-or-less the opposite end of it to me. It takes me an hour to drive from my house near the CBD to his near Campbelltown, in Sydney’s south-west (and longer if the traffic’s bad), and that isn’t even covering the whole city!
Because it’s so far away for me, visiting Campbelltown gives a whole new meaning to the idea of being a traveller in my own city. The weather is often different at his place to mine, and the atmosphere always is. The people who live there seem to view the world in a slightly different way, and the food is, on occasions, somewhat surprising. It’s like a totally different city and I haven’t even left Sydney.
Each year Campbelltown plays host to the Festival of Fisher’s Ghost. This festival celebrates the somewhat obscure legend of a local ghost with events including an art award, a street fair, and a parade, among other things. My interest in Fisher’s Ghost, however, comes in the form of Fisher’s Gig, a youth music festival held on the local oval.
At first it may not seem the coolest of gigs – a lone stage set up on an oval, more-or-less unknown local bands (at least to an outsider like me) playing throughout the afternoon, and a crowd predominantly made up of those old enough not to care that it’s an event put on by the local council and those young enough that they’re only allowed to be there because it’s an event put on by the local council. There are, however, three big advantages that Fisher’s Gig has over a lot of other music festivals: (1) half of the oval is taken up by carnival rides, (2) the evening ends with a pretty impressive fireworks display, and (3) the headline acts give you an opportunity to see some fairly famous (or at least seriously up-and-coming) Aussie bands for free – last year’s headline act was Canberra-based alt-rockers Hands Like Houses. This year it was Stonefield.
Stonefield play driving, hard-hitting, old-school rock. The first time you find out that the band is made up of four sisters from rural Victoria in their teens and early twenties, smashing out high octane originals and the occasional Led Zeppelin cover, it can come as a bit of a shock. And so I found myself on a warm evening in early November standing on an oval listening to the huge voice of Stonefield frontwoman Amy Findlay belting forth from her almost incongruously petite frame.
It was loud. Almost deafeningly so. There was some serious rock ‘n’ roll going on. It was also, to be frank, slightly awkward, because the crowd was pretty widely dispersed and, while there were a few people to whom inhibition was just a word they didn’t know how to spell, for most people the feeling of being just a little too visible put paid to any serious dancing/moshing/jumping around uncontrollably/whatever people do these days.
But it was fun. Not your average music festival, but fun none the less, and definitely something you wouldn’t be able to get away with in my part of the city (the hipsters would be looking down on you through their thick-rimmed glasses, totally unable to comprehend this thing called an electric guitar).
When the gig wound up, everyone crowded to get a good view of the fireworks, which were spectacular, especially considering they were being run on a local council budget. Then the bright lights of the overpriced carnival rides beckoned.
I hung back as a small bunch of fans chatted to Stonefield after the gig (at what other music festival could just anyone chat to the headline act for free?) and awkwardly asked if I could have my photo taken with them (a photo that I have no intention of sharing as I look embarrassingly uncool compared to four such awesome ladies). Who knows, maybe they’ll become even more famous in the future, then I’ll be glad I have it, even though it makes me look ridiculous!
Moral of the story? Try travelling to the other side of your city. You might be surprised at what you find.
For those who don’t understand the reference in the title, please watch this video. Please.