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Art series by Laura May Grogan

You’ve got that cool Aunty right? Or your best mate from high school does? Or you met her at your partner’s cousin’s wedding.

You know the one I’m talking about, the cheeky one, with the good stories and expensive underwear. The one you would have been best mates with if you were the same age.

The knowing one, the one who told you grown up stories when you were just that little bit too young. Her cackle is a little deeper, a little longer than everyone else’s in the family.

She wears a lot of silver rings, or maybe her nails are always a shade of deep red, but she definitely has a faded blue tattoo hiding somewhere under her well chosen jeans. She never judges, always encourages, but you know, intuitively when she doesn’t agree.

Every few years, after 10pm on Christmas night and a few champagnes, she’ll lean in close to you, a knowing twinkle in her eye and whisper something like “Go get em kiddo, the world is your oyster, don’t suffer any fools and don’t miss a second of it.”

It was at about 7pm this past Saturday, swaying amongst 12,000 people, in the Meredith supernatural amphitheater, Kokoroko’s glorious trombones and trumpets wafting around us, the sun setting and bubbles floating overhead, when I figured it out; we all have that Aunty, Aunty Meredith.

She’s only 100k’s out of melbourne, and twice a year, you get to be close to her. We all get to be inspired by her cheekiness, her warmth and kindness, her hedonism.

Golden Plains, and Meredith Music Festival are so special, not just because of the eclectic musical line up, nor the well oiled village of volunteers and workers who run them, not even the gorgeous Wadawurrung bushland they’re held upon, but because we get to be like the cool aunty.

We all compliment each other on our outfits (my hair is never more praised than when I’m in the ‘sup). We all check in on each other, we all offer water and chips and couch space to strangers.

We all say “no, you go in ahead,” even if we’ve been busting for the drop loos for 20 minutes. We decorate ourselves, each other, the couches, the toilets and the campsites.

We apologise and we thank, as we drag our friends, hand in hand, daisy-chain style, through the crowd in the middle of a set. We all help out to find the wayward straggler who can’t locate the right doof stick. We even prop each other up in the thick of it, as our fellow punter slips their shoe back on, after holding it high above their heads, signalling they’ve experienced their favourite set of the festival.

Of course Angel Olsen was incredible (the Harry Nilsen cover?!?! everyone singing “I caaaaaant li-ey-ey-ve, if living is without you” amazing).

And yes, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill was beyond inspiring, telling us “Look, I don’t want to be that person, saying follow your dreams, but here is a poem I wrote when I was 17, and now I’m 54 performing it at a festival in Australia”.

Oh and 1300 were so very fun (watching everyone out of breath after dancing to Cardio and screaming ‘Fuck Racism’ was hilarious, who knew so many airhorns could be so welcome?)

Of course, Brian Jackson ripping some jazz flute was amazing and oh yeah, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever guitars were very very good.

Ahhh – remember Soul II Soul being sooooo smooth and sexy on Sunday night and then Carly Rae Jepson had every single sweetheart screaming “I really really really really really really like you” to their crew. But for me, being reminded at 2am on a Monday morning that Donna Lewis’s 1996 ‘I Love You Always Forever” still exists when weaved into a 3 hour set by Four Tet was a gift that keeps giving me and mine goosebumps.

But, if I’m being honest with myself, as honest as my very own cool Aunty Carli was when she told me ‘Laura May, my darling, you have to learn to not guard your heart away, that with each heartbreak it doesn’t turn you bitter, carry it lightly my darling”… I don’t go for the music.

I go for the sweetness, the silliness, the sexiness. I go to be amongst no dickheads, to ask strangers if I can board their imaginary plane, to win limbo at 3am, to climb a tree and witness a spontaneous rave circle of a few hundred people erupt into chaos to sandstorm at sunset. I go to collect the stories that will make me that cool aunty.

Thank you Golden Plains, Thank you to the Nolan family for allowing us back. Thank you to the punter who handed in Megan’s wallet, Thank you, one and all.

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