Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll (except for the sex bit) - a weekend at Tanelorn in 1981

Among the many stories I bore my long suffering family with, is one of my most outstanding teenage memories.  The Tanelorn Music Festival.



It was held in an October weekend in 1981 somewhere near Stroud, NSW. Tanelorn was before the days of Narrara (which came soon after), Byron Bay Blues Festival and way before The Big Day Out was a twinkle in the eye of its creators.

The line up was incredible.


I was 15 and in Year 10 (or 4th form as it was called in the dark ages) in 1981 and right into music. Triple M had just started and I was plugged into a Sony Walkman every chance I could. With or without my black and yellow booted rollerskates.

I needed to go to Tanelorn.  Up to that point, I had not been to a concert (except for seeing Midnight Oil perform on Wanda Beach one rainy afternoon where Peter Garret's sweat was flung over me from his shiny shiny head, but that's another story).

This would take some convincing. My parents were anything but strict but the thought of sending their youngest to a music festival for a weekend with her 19 year old sister and her then pot head boyfriend was even too much for them.  I know I wouldn't have even considered it (and looking back it probably wasn't the best parenting decision they ever made).

I'm not sure how I did it but I was allowed to go! This also involved being driven by the said pot head which involved him speeding up the inner transit lane and stopping at the best front yard to cut a bit of hose off for his Orchy bottle bong. As it turned out, he forgot to pack the tent pegs for his tent, so I had to share my two person tent. This involved me lying across the short end of the tent and my sister and her boyfriend using me as a pillow so they could lie lengthways.  He also had the forsight to pitch our three day home right next to the local bikie gang, the Gypsy Jokers' camp.  Which turned out to be not too bad as I couldn't sleep at all anyway when they were doing wheelies on their bikes all night but they did end up adopting me during the concerts. They were perfect gentleman and held covers over me when it was pouring.

It was the best weekend of my life.  

I was left to myself most of the time (besides meeting up with my big brother and his girlfriend by the bean salad bar - pure chance in the days of no mobiles and a crowd of thousands. The stand out acts (that I can distinctly remember) were Billy Thorpe, Split Enz and Mi-Sex (they even had a light show back then!).  There was heat, rain and huge winds (not just from the beans).  There was dust and mud, births and deaths (probably, I might be thinking of Woodstock) and nudity (by others of course).

If you want to see a little of what it was like, this is the only known footage (well all anyone can find on the internet anyway) of somebody's Tanelorn experience (I will endeavour to keep searching for more evidence of the festival).




If only I could remember more.....

22 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, what an incredible memory. You're so lucky your parents let you go - mine were always so strict when I was at school! You're right - that lineup was amazing! Can't believe your sister's BF forgot the tent pegs, that's hilarious! and how awesome that the GJs were so chivalrous! Great story :)

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    1. Thanks, I was lucky in that instance having hippy-ish parents but some other moments it would have been nice to have more normal ones.

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  2. That is a horror story. Your parents must of been mad to let you go. What were they thinking? So the whole family were there except for your sensible sister?

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    1. My 'sensible sister' was topless sunbathing on the beach and had no say in it all! Or do you mean the really sensible sister another country away?

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  3. Would you believe I have never been to any form of concert ever? Makes me a little bit sad after reading your adventures!

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    1. That is a travisty!!! You have to do this, even the little concerts are earthmoving - the one I'm thinking of was 15 years ago, 6 months pregnant, dancing on a picnic table in a Broome beer garden watching Jimmy Barnes do what he does best.
      You must seek out the next concert of one of your favourites asap!! It will move you.

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  4. Hey what a story! What a formative experience. I don't think I'd let a 15 year old go... actually after reading that I definitely wouldn't, my boys are too daft. Glad you had a great time and remained unscathed.. and many thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. I definitely would not let my 15 yr old experience that - on her own. I would have to go with her of course ;) . But they are all full of opportunists and young people popping unidentified pills now, rarely attended by hippies.

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  5. Hi Becci, thanks for your story, it brings up great memories for me...I was at Tanelorn to. How cool was it! I was a little older than you, 19 and a pot head...probably just like your sister's BF. We scored a huge block of blond hash on the freeway out of Gosford which was like a hours long traffic jam full of hippies and an huge assortment of excited kids. For me the festival started hours before we even got there. I was soooo dedicated to becoming a hippie in those 'daze' that when we got there we pitched out tent next to some uber cool hippies with a couple of non-nappy wearing kids and I was so amazed and switched onto them that I missed most of the festival as pretty much all I did was get stoned and talk about all things hippy things with these dudes...including the need to squat on a toilet instead of sitting on it cause it was (apparently) better for you health wise. But I remember going nude swimming in the heat in the nearby creek with hundreds of other nudies, I remember all the new age food, I remember, I think Midnight Oil arriving in a helicopter and I think they cut their gig short because of the storm that blew up and that's about all I remember. So, although I can't quite say it was memorable it was life changing and will stay with me forever. Unfortunately I started losing my hair that year so I could never grow those wild long locks that I so desperately wanted to have with the beads and bongs...but I did keep up the squatting on the toilet seat for about 6 months before I got sick and tired of the inconvenience, the near misses and the threat of real damage and humiliation if I'd fallen off.

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    1. rodriguez arrived in the chopper straight after the mighty REDGUM played . bit of a let down realy with his scarf flapping over his guitar, i felt felt sorry for him, but hey shit happens

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    2. Hey Anon, your the only other person (besides the family members) that I heard had gone as well! Hopefully there are many more that survived the mud, wind and drop toilets.

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    3. I was there too - I hitch hiked for 2 days from Goulburn. Can't remember much of the concert but met many groovy people while watching Rodriguez. Now in 2 days (&/11/2014) I will see him again in Perth again after 33 years

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  6. What an epic experience that must have been! I've never been brave enough to take on a festival, too much of a city girl and too scared of dark and drop toilets!

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    1. Now I'm a bit older and spoiled, I wouldn't take on a big festival anymore either!

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  7. Wow I have some memories like that too except I was the big sister leading the little one astray. Those were the days :)

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    1. Thank goodness for naughty big sisters ;)

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  8. Hi Becci,
    I WAS THERE TOO, I have amazing memories of that long weekend! Best concert ever, I was 20. My best memory was Midnight Oil playing in the rain & Pete Garrett had actual steam haloing his head! I have seen that footage recently (last year I think) on TV so there must be more available

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    1. I wish I could find more footage, if you come across it, please share!

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  9. Hi Becci
    I too can confirm it happened, I was 18 and at Uni. I remember the train ride to Stroud that passed in a haze of substance smoke, red wine from a wine-cask skin and one of my mates playing Knocking on Heavens door on the acoustic guitar.
    I remember a hoard of people climbing off the train in the middle of the night in the pitch dark in what felt like the middle of nowhere. No-one knew where to head but when someone started out walking they were followed by a stream of equally dazed folks carrying their packs into the darkness hopefully towards Tannelorn. Eventually a flatbed truck arrived from the concert and maybe 50 or 100 of us climbed into the back. We lost one of my mates on the walk and he didn’t turn up till two days later he’d been sharing a tent with a couple he met on the walk.
    I remember skinny dipping in the creek with my mates and munching out on the food from the Chinese food stall. I certainly remember coming down from the hills where we were camped to the "StarBase" information stall and seeing a sign that simply said "Flee to the Hills a storm is coming". We went back up to our campsite and flattened all the tents except mine and weighed them down with stones then when the storm hit we gathered in a haze in my tent until the wind got so high it actually ripped the tent. Then everyone piled out of my tent and put up another one while I wandered around the camping area until I found a cool Hippie couple who had a needle and thread so I could sew my tent back together. Sitting in the rain and again impaired by red wine et al I actually ended up sewing my pants to the side of the tent. :-)
    I remember The Oils on stage that night were amazing and that RedGums opening lines were a nod to the Woodstock movie about the traffic being backed up to Newcastle. Boy do I remember Rodriguez so much under the influence of his own substances that he just about needed help to stand on stage. Billy Thorpe was just amazing. It was three days of no sleep, great music and memories that, unlike my body, will never wear out.

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  10. Amazing, I was there too, the 3rd of October was my 17th birthday, I went with my Boyfriend Peter Jones and some other friends, What an experience!!! Sure there was heat, flies, a massive storm, food shortages, toileting issues and the daily task of stumbling back to your tent at some point... yes the one lost in a veritable sea of tents but who cared!!! Oh to be able to wind back time! Lisa xxx

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  11. Yes, I was there as a young fella of 22 years of age with my 2 mates. We had driven down from Brisbane and arrived to find a creek full of nude hippies smoking pot and having a great time. What a contrast Tanelorn was from Brisbane at the time under the Bejelke-Petersen regime. The music was awesome especially Billy Thorpe straight from the U.S.A.I especially remember the wind storm that destroyed our tent on the Sat arvo (I think it was). We came back from the stage area to find it ripped to shreds and slept under the remains for the rest of the festival. It was a festival those mates and I still talk about today as 50 plus year olds.

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  12. I was there too, five or six of us in a friends big sister's EH, so excited as it was our first big festival. I was 19, my friend 17 and we met other friends there.
    The atmosphere was incredible, everyone was so happy and out of it and with the best line up what more could a young person want.
    During the storm we took refuge in the EH and can't remember what happened to the tents.
    So cool and so memorable and with so much heart and soul. Glastonbury Festival 8 years later was almost as good.

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