On January 1, I stood in the valley that was the amphitheater of the Forest Stage at Falls Festival, the sun had set on a day of flitting from stage to stage, catching all of our favourite acts. Finally, we were given some relieve from the stillness of the heat.

As Hermitude took the stage, I was letting my inhibitions go; dancing like no one was watching. The rain didn’t start lightly, the skies literally opened up. Most people didn’t even flinch, and all I could think about was, this couldn’t be a better moment. Finding inspiration in something that may have seemed like an inconvenience to the old me. Instead of huddling under the nearest tree, I threw my hands up and I danced harder. I watched as the summer raindrops bounced off the umbrella of a guy half a crowd away.

That moment is still one  of my favourite moments in time. Something that will forever live in my memory and serve as a constant reminder of who I have become.

Then came Secret Garden.

Secret Garden. It was the festival that people said could not be missed. If you only go to one, make it this one. Started five or six years ago, as a small gathering (about 800 people) on a local farm in the southwest suburb of Camden; it’s popularity year on year has multiplied, reaching nearly 5,000 attendees this year. This is the kind of festival that sells out within the first fifteen minutes of ticket sales.

Featuring all local artists, many up-and-coming acts, this festival is all about community, fun, fancy dress and just all-around getting amongst it.

Secret Garden 2014 - Sydney, Australia

Four hours of volunteering at the festival warrants a free ticket for each day worked. Amanda, Asher and I were in, we signed up and were accepted to help out in the parking lot on Saturday afternoon. It was time to source our best Secret Garden attire.

My planning skills really failed me in the lead-up to this weekend. I don’t know if it was the weather {it had been particularly rainy in Sydney} or my unexpectedly busy working schedule {#pitchlife} but come Thursday and I had no costume. I’d also failed to remind the SG team that I hadn’t received my volunteer ticket and forgotten completely that we were asked to bring a white t-shirt to wear as uniform. Potentially the worst volunteer to actually complete their shift. But hey, I showed up.

All issues aside, blue koala onesie to the rescue, we woke up on the absolute rainiest Saturday I ever saw. At Falls, the rain was warm and the ground wasn’t muddy. I wasn’t so sure that these SG festival-goes would be quite as welcoming of the inconvenient weather as my fellow Hermitude embracers had been. I underestimate people. Mud was no match for the Secret Garden enthusiasts and it only added to the adventure. There was a single small moment as I stood at the tail end of my parking shift, in only a singlet under my plastic poncho, raindrops dripping off the bill of my Rip Curl hat; that moment I felt a tiny twinge of annoyance at the weather.

But really, just embrace it. 

I’ve actually never seen so much mud in my life. But honestly, where were we going to go? The music was raging throughout the farms many fields and forest alcoves. The thousands of gumboots that stomped through the premise weren’t saving anyone from the mass mud puddles, and don’t we always joke about jumping in puddles? About dancing in the rain?

We caught about 4 hours of the show in the end, every bit a good time as we slammed back as many $5 beers as we could hold in an attempt to catch up to the noon-starters.

Secret Garden 2014- Sydney, Australia

These festivals have taught me that the rain doesn’t inconvenience all that much. The attitude you hold and those who surround you are what makes situations worthwhile and what do you have to complain about when you’ve finally arrived at a destination you’ve been waiting months to experience.

The festival is one of the best. I’d love to see it in the sun. The team that puts Secret Garden on are just a bunch of mates who like to see people have a good time. The owners of the farm seem to have the same motto as the festival-goers. I can’t imagine the clean-up that would have ensued on Sunday morning, but all we got were huge thank you’s for our help, for the fun, and a can’t wait to do it all again.

Just embrace it.

I’ve seen some of the best fancy dress to date at Secret Garden. Check out their Facebook page for photos! 

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