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ConFest Alternative Summer Festival 2011

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by Michaelie Clark (subscribe)
Pun-loving freelance writer based in Victoria.
Event: -
Join a community of thousands of diverse people celebrating alternative lifestyles at the ConFest Summer Festival from Thursday, 29th December 2011 to Wednesday, 4th January 2012. Founded in 1976 by then Deputy Prime Minister, Jim Cairns, ConFest began as a means of bringing together people dedicated to spiritual wellbeing, sustainable living and unconventional pursuits. In 1979, the Down to Earth Co-op Society, a volunteer organisation without political affiliation, was incorporated to take over administration of the events.

ConFest Summer 2011
ConFesters having a grand old time.

Now, thirty-five years after its conception, the ConFest philosophy lives on, with the twice-yearly festivals attracting huge numbers to the Woorooma site on the Edward River, approximately 12km from Moulamein, which is five hours from Melbourne. Festival-goers can join in the fun by coming and going each day, or by camping at the site itself. While the spirit of ConFest is all about embracing everyone, groups tend to form over the area according to different interests, with mini 'villages' popping up where campers who share a particular fondness for meditation, healing, music, performance or other arts congregate.

ConFest Alternative Festival
ConFest back in 1995.

Visitors are free to spend their time engaging in a number of spontaneous activities, including swimming in the river, taking part in workshops and spur-of-the-moment discussions, browsing the vegetarian market, bushwalking, joining in with some tai chi, yoga, singing, dancing or meditation, and performing or watching other performers do everything from circus tricks and comedy routines to body painting and fire-twirling.

ConFest Alternative Festival
When it comes to clothes, anything goes.

ConFest is all about respecting others and the environment, being tolerant of differences and getting to know a wide range of people with a diverse mix of ideas, beliefs, customs, skills and interests. That being so, all attendees of the festival must show consideration for the planet and the safety of others by removing all rubbish from the site, using fire only in the designated communal cooking and camp fire areas and taking care of the temporary facilities (pit toilets, cold showers and drinking water stations). Pets are not allowed at the festival, nor are disposable food implements. Attendees must bring and wash their own cutlery, plates, etc (preferably not glass), and are encouraged to keep a cup with them for impromptu get-togethers.

ConFest Festival 2011 - 2012
Browse the stalls at the ConFest marketplace.

Cars can be parked in a parking area close to the festival or an access area for those who are driving to and from the site at various times. Campers can take their vehicle into the festival, but it must remain stationary throughout. Gates open at midday on Wednesday, 28th December 2011, with only set-up volunteers allowed access before this time. All attendees are encouraged to arrive before sunset, as vehicles cannot be driven into the festival in the dark. Tickets are available at the gate only (no limit), and act as pass-outs during the festival. Tickets for children under sixteen years of age are $1. The cost for an adult ticket is $80 plus two hours of work in various activities to help with the running of the festival. Assigned carers for people with disabilities have free entry.

ConFest Summer Festival
ConFesters relaxing on the river.

One more thing about ConFest it's clothing optional. Festival-goers can choose to wear any type of clothing they like, regardless of conventional gender specifics, or choose to wear nothing at all. "Don't be surprised to have a naked ticket-collector when you arrive at the ConFest gate", is the advice from the festival organisers. "Clothing can range from nothing, to body paint, a coat of mud, a sheet, a fairy costume, even a ball gown or dinner suit." So if you like to do things naked, this one's for you.
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Why? An extraordinary event full of diversity and spontaneity.
When: 29th December 2011 - 4th January 2012
Where: Moulamein, NSW - approximately five hours from Melbourne.
Cost: $80 plus two hours work for adults; $1 for children under 16 years old.
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