The Grampians Music Festival – don’t miss the next one!

VIDEO: Three minutes at the Grampians Music Festival

“This is the most beautiful place we’ve ever played”

These lauding words came from Chris, the guitarist and co-songwriter of festival headliners Tigertown. The Sydney-sider’s  infectious beats and grooves closed out three days of sun-soaked music, dancing and camaraderie at the first-ever Grampians Music Festival.

Chris from Tigertown

Grampians Music Festival 2017 – sun, scenery and sweet, sweet sounds.

The inaugural ‘GMF’ was held from 24 – 26 February in the picturesque Victorian village of Halls Gap, an easy three hour drive from Melbourne. The festival grounds were set in the heart  of town in what effectively was a natural amphitheatre. The sound was excellent for every single act. The crowd varied between locals, intra-state Victorians and Melburnians. Many were wearing broad-brimmed hats to shield from the sun but all wore broad smiles as the silky tunes headed their way across the weekend.

cheap fakes on stage grampians music festival
The Cheap Fakes on stage

There was a multitude of accommodation options on offer for the out-of-towners to suit all tastes and budgets. From camping to deluxe. You needed to have booked early however as everywhere was booked out. There’s a tip for next year. Book early to secure your first preferences!

The journey there. I ‘A8’ it all up.

Things definitely changed just past Ballarat when the M8 Freeway narrows to become the A8 Highway. As the road narrowed however the scenery magnified. Those first tantalising glimpses of the mighty Grampians in the distance were like a child spotting their presents the day before Christmas. Anticipation was high and excitement building.

The last 50 kilometres into Halls Gap were an utter delight. Long gone were the fumes and congestion of Melbourne roads. I was now on open winding roads with the window down and the scent of eucalypts wafting past. Blissful!

19 twenty grampians music festival
19 Twenty with the Grampians as their backdrop

The bill please.

Self-described as a ’boutique indie music festival’ the event organisers got it right. The Friday was reserved for talented local acts whilst the weekend was handed over to Inter-Staters and Headliners. There was a successful blend of up-and-coming, break-through and venerated. In terms of their performance all bands were slicker than an Italian waiters hairdo.


Highlights included top talent such as Tigertown and Saskwatch. The 2016 Triple J ‘Unearthed’ winner Alex Lahey was another big name to catch and the Cat Empire’s frontsman – Felix Riebl – was smoother than polished marble with a set of his own solo tunes.

‘Headliner’ Gallery.

Click an image to enlarge.

The soulful Clairy Browne made an instant impact as she strode assuredly onto stage. She was wearing a smile and not much else it appeared at first glance and from a distance.

clairy browne grampians music festival
Clairy Browne

It didn’t take long however before her super slick songs, beguiling voice and a band tighter than Nicole Kidman’s forehead won over the crowd. It was a masterful performance

clairy browne live

A personal favourite was the lesser-known Bearded Gypsy Band. These fresh-faced Adelaideans delivered an uptempo set that reminded me of being in a heaving Dublin bar. It was an intoxicating mix of The Pogues, Of Mice and Men and included just a dash of the Charlie Daniels Band as garnish.

Great vibes and family friendly.

Never been to a music festival before? Then I suggest that GMF could be the perfect introduction. Plenty of personal space, a well compiled artist line-up, food and wine options on site and located right smack, dab in the middle of town. Kids under 12 attended free in 2017 making it even more family friendly.

family at grampians music festival

Logistically pretty much everything was right. For an inaugural event that’s good going and I’m sure it will get even better in 2018 and beyond.

carla repsys-thom at grampians music festival

Location, location, location

To be honest I had originally been heading up to the festival to take some photos and head back to Melbourne the next day. However those planned 24 hours turned into more than 50! Not only were the acts on display outstanding but the Grampians mountains encircling Halls Gap spellbinding. I just had to see more.

The natural beauty even inspired me to arise pre dawn for two sunrises amidst the peaks. If you knew me you would know that I am the antithesis of a ‘morning person’. So that in itself is a testament to the grandiose scenery of this region.

Boroka Lookout at sunrise.

Easily accessible from town are Boroka and Reeds Lookouts, the Balconies walk and the majestic MacKenzie Falls. You can squeeze most, if not all, of these in during your festival stay but it would be better and more relaxing to add an extra day to visit these.

MacKenzie Falls

The Wrap.

My only gripe about the Grampians Music Festival was having to leave! I miss the mighty mountains, sheer rock faces, native wildlife and the verdant forests of the Grampians. I also miss the relaxed vibes, positive ambience, friendly folk, smiling faces and incredible tunes that made up #GMF2017.

I feel privileged to have been at the first fest. The GMF committee nailed it when they promoted the event saying…

‘Have you ever wanted to be in on the ground floor of something amazing?’

The Grampians Music Festival will grow and grow, of that I am certain. The organisers have promised not to let if become too big and that’s a relief. However secrets like this don’t last long.

So will I be coming back to #GMF2018?

– Hell Yes!

… and you should too. Note it down in the musical diary for late February 2018.

view from stage of grampians music festival
The view from stage at #GMF2017

Were you there? Let us know what you thought in the comments below 🙂

All photography © Thirty Summers.

Grampians Music Festival Gallery.

Click an image to enlarge.

Click the link to view a gallery of GMF crowd shots 

More information.

Festival Lens

Music lover with camera in hand. You see what I saw on Thirty Summers. "If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff" - Jim Richardson.

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