About 20 minutes inland from Lorne lies a sleepy little town called Bambra.
Part of the Otway Hinterland, Bambra is surrounded by rolling hills and bushland, only a stone’s throw away from the Otway National Park in all its natural wonder. It’s not always a spot people would visit during a trip down the Great Ocean Road, but for the past six years, there’s been one very good reason to.
Meadow, or By The Meadow as it was previously known, is a three-day camping festival that takes place in the Bambra area. Vastly different to the wild, raucous Falls festivities that go down in Lorne over New Years, Meadow is capped at 1,100 tickets and is focused on creating a small, musically-minded community.
What started as a 21st birthday party for Festival Director Cameron Wade organically grew into an annual event, much to Wade’s delighted surprise.
“I’ve always wanted to run one [a festival] which is probably why I did it as a 21st, but I had no idea we would just keep doing it after that,” he explains. “It’s always changing and growing and morphing with what we want to see and what we enjoy out of other festivals.”
An engineer by trade, it’s a love for music, particularly local music, that drives Wade’s Meadow endeavours. Growing up in Colac without a hugely active live music scene pushed him to create something that he himself would want to attend, and something that draws a crowd of likeminded music lovers.
“I think the fans that are coming out are really into their music,” he explains. “They’re there to have fun and they’re there to party, but they’re people who are really engaged with the music scene regardless of whether they’re from the country or from Melbourne.”
With a spectacular setting and punchy lineup, it’s no surprise that Meadow draws punters all the way from the city. This year’s bill features the headliners Angie McMahon, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Dyson Stringer Cloher, along with dynamic duo Close Counters, Swazi Gold, Elizabeth and heaps more.
For Wade, curating a killer lineup isn’t so much about what’s hot right now on the radio, but rather what’s hot right now for him and his mates.
“Probably just the really selfish approach that I take [to programming] is booking the bands that I want to hear,” he laughs. “At the top, there is stuff that I like and stuff that I know a lot of other people like, but the real insight into who we are or what we like is buried in the mid to bottom of the bill a lot more.
“We know we need headliners, but the local stuff that we see around Melbourne, that’s the exciting stuff. I really think that shapes the personality of a bill.”
This theme of community support extends to their food and beverage offerings too, shying away from standard food trucks and opting for local Otway producers instead.
“We want to capture what’s regional and local to us,” says Wade. “We work with all the booze producers in the area, like the brewery down at Aireys Inlet, all the local wineries, the gin distillery from Aireys Inlet, and we build our bar menu with contributions from all of those places.
“It goes well with the kind of people we’re trying to get along to our events, who I think generally are a little bit more conscious of those things.”
Over the coming years the regional gem will probably see some growth, but Wade isn’t concerned about profit margins or hordes of punters – just good music and good people to enjoy it with.
“We definitely don’t have massive plans,” he says. “We’re not sitting here being like, ‘How do we make this the next Falls Festival or Golden Plains or whatever’.
“It’s got a place where it is, I think we just let it organically grow.”
Spend a weekend at Meadow in Bambra from Friday March 27 to Sunday March 29. You can find tickets and the full lineup at meadowmf.com.