Image for Five Fairgrounds Festival Hacks For First TimersFairgrounds Festival 2015 / Photo: Yael Stempler

Five Fairgrounds Festival Hacks For First Timers

Written by David James Young on November 27, 2018

This weekend marks the fourth annual Fairgrounds Festival, taking place in the scenic surrounds of Berry on the south coast of New South Wales. A huge mix of national treasures and international legends will be making the trek down to the showgrounds for what might be its biggest edition yet, including Vance Joy, Pond, Courtney Barnett, Billy Bragg & more.

Although there will be plenty of repeat offenders making their way around the festival, no doubt there are some making their Fairgrounds debut. If that’s you: welcome! We couldn’t be more excited to have you. Just so you’re all over it before you get here, we’ve assembled five top tips to help you blend in as if you were a local. Take heed and get ready for a great weekend of live music!

1. Sort your transportation ahead of time

Being a relatively small town, Berry doesn’t have a particularly reliable public transport system. If you have a few mates heading down, see if carpooling is an option – you can have a playlist of all your favourite acts going all the way down south (or listen to this one Wil Wagner has curated for your listening pleasure!) which is certainly a bonus. If you’re on your own, weary traveller, fear not. Here are the train times to get you to and from the festival on time:

  • On Friday, the 1:23pm train from Central will take you through to Kiama. Change there for a train to Berry, which gets in at 3:59 and gives you just enough time to get inside and watch the amazing Body Type at 4:15pm.
  •  On Saturday, the 9:29am train from Central will take you through to Kiama. Change there for a train to Berry, which gets in at 12:11pm. Alternatively, if you want to spend a bit of time in Berry before the festival (and you’re an early riser), you can get the 7:29am from Central, where you can change at Kiama and get into Berry at 10:14am.
  • If you’re coming from Bomaderry/Nowra, get the 2:31pm train – it arrives in Berry at 2:41pm, giving you plenty of time to get yourself acquainted with the area.
  • As for Saturday, you can get the 10:31am train from Bomaderry/Nowra – it arrives in Berry at 10:40am, 20 minutes before gates open.
  • If you’re not staying in Berry on the Friday, a bus from Berry runs at 11:04pm to Kiama, about 20 minutes after headliners Pond have finished.
  • If you’re headed back to Bomaderry/Nowra, there will be a shuttle bus running after the festival – stay tuned to the Fairgrounds site for further details closer to the festival.
  • On Saturday, there will be extra services running to get people home whether you’re headed north or south. You can go here to see full details of that.

2. Keep an eye on the weather

Ever been to a festival when it’s started raining and every shirtless bro is ruing the day they decided to get ripped just for it? Pack accordingly when you head down – it never hurts to have an extra layer nearby; and it never hurts to sunscreen up, even if it’s overcast. At this stage, Friday is shaping up to have a possible shower and tops of 24. Saturday, on the other hand, looks to be a Rob Thomas-approved 28 degrees. Of course, this could change in the coming days – the Bureau Of Meteorology website is your best bet.

3. Take a moment to do a full lap and see what you find

Of course, going between the Main Stage and the Windmill Stage is enough to occupy your entire day – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that being your central focus over the festival. If you want to get a full sense of what the folks at Fairgrounds are going for, however, take a moment – five minutes, tops – to take a look around at everything they’ve got on offer. You’ll find a pool for a quick dip, a record fair to score some rare vinyl, a market stall and even a couple of classic games like the sack race and the egg-and-spoon to get involved with – if you’re brave enough to step up, of course.

4. Go see Adam Gibson, the king of Fairgrounds

There’s only one man who has performed at all four editions of Fairgrounds. His name is Adam Gibson, and while he’s not a household name he is still a beloved cult figure in Australian music. At the helm of projects like Modern Giant and The Aerial Maps, Gibson is a unique spoken-word performer that shares stories from his life, as it’s taken him all over the country. Backed by his trusty musical collective, The Ark-Ark Birds, Gibson has charmed and entertained audiences at every Fairgrounds since it started. He takes to the Windmill stage at 12:30pm on the Saturday – and you’ll want to be there to see it.

5. Pre- and post-festival, get to the Donut Van

The literal centre of Berry’s universe, the Donut Van has been an institution for over 50 years. If you’ve ever passed through the area, you know exactly what to expect. For those that don’t, however, get amongst these delicious handmade delicacies – there’s truly nothing quite like them. There’s also hot-dogs, coffee and milkshakes on offer – so bring some extra cash if you’re feeling peckish. No doubt the Van will be keeping open for extra hours to accommodate for everyone in town, so make sure you get around this brilliant local business while you’re there. When in Rome, as they say.

Fairgrounds Festival is going down in Berry from this Friday, 30th November. Check out the full lineup & set times right here.

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