Ho, ho, ho — a camping we will go

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Getty Images
Getty Images

There is a place where you can have an amazing family holiday, which is fun, eco-friendly and great value for money — just don't tell anyone else.

Going wild at Woodford
This year for our summer holidays, the Hamilton family has decided to go … camping! But not just any old camping — oh no! We are headed to one of the best-kept secrets in Australia: the Woodford Folk Festival, about 75km north of Brisbane. It will just be us and 130,000 other people for the six-day event. Cosy!

Biggest and best
One of the things I love about Australia is how it plays down its greatest achievements and the Woodford Folk Festival is a case in point. The Queensland Folk Federation-organised event has been going for 24 years, is the biggest festival in the country, with top-class entertainment and yet is still not that widely known.

Queensland Folk Federation general manager Amanda Jackes has been involved at Woodford for the last 14 years and got started when it was a small local affair and has watched it grow into Australia's version of Woodstock.

Shhh …
"It's still quite a secret — when we show visitors the land and the infrastructure and amphitheatre that can take 25,000 people they are blown away," Jackes says as she laughs. "Families can set up campsites for the whole six days in a beautiful valley where we have planted 90,000 trees."

Full-on fun
The figures for Woodford are impressive. It's held on an old dairy farm that has been turned into parkland dedicated to the arts and humanities at a cost of more than $9 million. Two-hundred hectares of land, 2800 volunteers, 44 restaurants, several-thousand performances, and this year, 580 individual acts which will run from 6am to 2am. That's a lot of entertainment for the kids and the grown-ups. Which means there'll be no shouts of "I'm bored" and you'll be able to turn the computer off for six days. Hurrah! You can go for the day or the whole week and you still won't see all that's on.

Circus
What I'm looking forward to most (and it's not putting up the tent) is the children's festival. The festival is for kids aged from two to 13, has five venues alone that run all day and covers activities as diverse as circus skills, permaculture and pottery. There is also a venue called Circadia for teens, where they learn acrobatic, physical theatre and train during the day then give performances at night. According to Jackes, the circus skills are taught by some of the best circus performers in the country.

Guilt-free holiday
Best of all this is a guilt-free holiday in terms of the environment. All the packaging brought to the festival by stall holders and cafes must be able to be recycled. There are bottle refills for water and there is organic waste composting onsite, which uses the waste from the restaurants. They have their own wastewater treatment and the whole place is run without generators. Love it!

Your say: Are you heading away these holidays? What do you think are Australia's best kept secrets? Share with us below...

Read more from Julie Hamilton at omigoddess.com.au

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