Gundaroo is fine-tuning preparations up for its annual music festival on Saturday, 26 October in aid of people living with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
Started back in 2013 by musician and businessman Scott Windsor, who died of MND in 2015, the festival has raised $150,000 and attracted some of Australia’s biggest acts over the years. This year the headline act is The Black Sorrows, currently riding high on a new album, Citizen John.
This year’s fundraising target is $30,000.
Festival spokesperson Scott Harding said ticket sales were doing well and he expected many more to turn up on the day for what he says will be a family-friendly event catering to all age groups.
“Where else can you go, especially with all the media scrutiny that music festivals are getting, that’s a family friendly event,” Mr Harding said. “You can bring your rug, your own drink, bring a picnic hamper, sit on the grass and enjoy the day. There are not many music festivals where you can do that any more.”
The festival’s reputation has been enhanced over the years by acts such as Daryl Braithwaite, Moving Pictures, Superjesus, Russel Morris and Mental as Anything, but local musicians also play a big role with the three grand finalists in this year’s Gundaroo Emerging Musicians contest battling it out on the main stage for a career-making prize – 10 hours’ recording studio time.
“It was something Scott and I talked about: how do we help emerging musos coming through and provide them with a quality experience? So both on the day and in the studio, they have that opportunity to see how far they can take their skill set,” Mr Harding said.
There are many musicians playing that have a connection some way to MND, including Sydney’s Rhiannon, who lost her mother to the disease.
With the average life expectancy from diagnosis only 27 months, and two people being diagnosed every day and two dying every day, MND at present does not have a happy outcome, but staying positive and bringing people together through music was always a goal of Scott Windsor.
“The big thing was about music, family and fun,” Mr Harding said. “It’s not just the person who’s got it but it’s the carers and family members that are also trying to deal with it. We need to support them as well,” he said.
“Some people have said what a great release it was to come to the festival and that there are events like ours supporting these people who are left behind.”
Festival-goers can find out more about MND on the day from Motor Neuron Disease NSW CEO Graham Opie, who will be at a dedicated stall selling merchandise along with festival items.
The 12-hour event, starting at 10:00 am in Gundaroo Park, is more than music with craft and food stalls, wine tasting, Fringe Events program, roaming entertainment, two Kids Zones for young children and teenagers, and a massive fireworks display.
“The line up will feature a great mix of talent from the across the region and Australia, including performances from Bluesmoke, Rhiannon, Harry Cleverdon, Slammin’ Drams, Montgomery Church, Daryl James, Blue Zoo Groove, the Whispering Jack Show (a tribute to the music of John Farnham), Kashmir (a tribute to Led Zeppelin) and, of course, our amazing closers, Chasing Giants,” Mr Hardding said.
But the festival really gets going the day before at the Gundaroo Colonial Inn at 3:00 pm, with live music kicking off at 8:00 pm with Australian Idol’s Luke Dickens and Country Music Awards of Australia winner Luke Austen.
Camping is available in Gundaroo Village, about a half-hour north of Canberra, and free buses depart Gungahlin on the day. For more information and tickets go here.