‘Can we listen to more of the psychopath test?’ It’s 3pm on a Friday afternoon and Tobyn, Emma, and I are discussing the important issue of road trip playlist. As we transition from freeways and housing developments into soft hills of bush land and farms, local radio station RTR is starting to lose range. 'Really??’ says Emma, rather understandably. An audiobook about psychopaths seems an odd tone to set for a weekend camping on a berry farm, in which we plan to immerse ourselves in music, bushwalks, swims, and art. But, as anyone who has similar addiction to true crime podcasts knows, one simply has to hear the whole story in order to feel closure and peace. We compromised. After an hour of dreamy music and an hour of psychopaths, we arrived at the beautiful tranquility of Camp Doogs, this year taking place at Berry Delightful in Brookhampton.
When my friend/ collaborator, Ash, and I signed up to teach workshops at Doogs, we weren’t sure if our big dreams of painting in the sunshine and weaving under the trees would be realised, but looking out at the spectacular weather and the still dam and the big beautiful bush land it suddenly felt very real.
Almost as real as the ache in my arms from unloading the car and setting up the campsite. It takes Emma and I longer than it should to realise that we are trying to set up the tent inside out. It doesn’t take us anywhere near as long to convince Ash to join us in the tent instead of sleeping in her swag out in the open. After what feels like 800 journeys to and from our commodore our temporary homestead is adequately cosy, and we sit around with our makeshift cheese board (fancy cheese and cheap crackers), sipping gin and tonics from enamel mugs and admiring the sunset. Somehow most of Ash and I’s housemates have managed to join us on this adventure, and we’ve gain hundreds more housemates in the form of slanted tents peppering the sandy grass on the hills.
Wandering down to the stage areas we are impressed by how much is already happening. Drag queens, DJs, musicians, food trucks, and a terrifying ‘çhurch of belligerence’ which I vow never to visit (I feel life is scary enough). The first night is a blur of dancing, kentucky fried tofu, and wandering endlessly around the dam running into people with 'how-have-you-been’ s and ‘what-are-you-upto’s and ‘isn’t-the-weather-nice’ s and ‘which-acts-are-you-excited-to-see’s. It already feels so far from the stress of city life and its only been 5 hours since we left the house.
Saturday is a sleepy day of swimming and music and snacks. It’s also the day Ash and I are scheduled to teach our workshops, along with helpers Tobyn and Emma. We half expect everyone to be too busy swaying to tunes or floating on the inflatable swans in the water. Impressively enough people turn up (and not just our super supportive housemates either) to lay in the sun on picnic rugs with us and paint and weave and chat. Ash has brought along books on native flowers and encourages everyone to try out different techniques with acrylics, watercolours, and poster paints. I’ve collected sticks and show people how to tie on threads to weave thicker yarns through. Our workshops time well with Fraeya playing on the main stage and I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than crafting in the sunshine with her beautiful music serenading us.
The weekend continues in a similar way, only I’m a little sleepier from sharing out bits of myself teaching the workshop. It’s a wonderful place to slow down though. Flower gardens to explore, music to groove to, and friends to catch up with.
Ash and I are already talking about what workshops we want to run next year and how we can make things brighter and better and more beautiful. But for now, I’m simply so grateful for the opportunity to make and create at such a beautiful festival with such beautiful people. Thank you doogs, and thank you sunshine for smiling down at us that weekend.