Every year between December 27 and New Year in Queensland, there is a special place where magic happens. I had experienced Woodfordia just once but had to go back. Magic can be addictive.
It's a place where you can escape from reality and where creativity and inspiration abounds. It's a place where the sense of community, diversity, tolerance and understanding is like no other I've found anywhere in the world and has the most smiling, happy faces you will ever see. It is a place where there is no inhibition or judgement and you can almost feel kindness in the air.
That special place where the magic happens is Woodford Folk Festival and for six days and nights, over 1,500 shows attract huge crowds to one of the biggest cultural events of its type in Australia - now in its 29th year.
The festival is a feast for eyes, ears and soul, with all-weather performance venues, festival streets, tree-filled campgrounds and happy, happy people. An army of over 2,300 volunteers are behind the scenes and allow everyone to enjoy amazing local and international concerts, blues, vaudeville, folk, world music, visual arts, crafts, indigenous, yoga, meditation, folk, rock and pop, circus acts, street performers, an environmental program featuring talks and debates, acoustic jams, parades, comedy and dance.
Tucked away amongst the tree-covered hills, nature is always nearby and the mud and rain just adds to the atmosphere. There is something about sloshing around mud puddles in gumboots that has a childlike innocence about it. I liked it a lot. Even the bit in the campsite where I got to trample in my gumboots to the portable toilet at midnight.
For those six days each year in Woodfordia, the feeling that envelopes the patrons, volunteers and performers is one that has to be experienced to be truly understood. I'm going to try and hold onto that magic for just a bit longer.