Saturday, August 30, 2014
This weekend the Gympie Muster is on again!! It's been described as the quintessential Aussie event and with the towering gums and leisurely lagoons of beautiful Amamoor Creek State Forest Park near Gympie in Queensland it's the perfect setting for more than 25,000 people who flock to the Optus Gympie Music Muster each year in the last week of August. The Muster attracts fans from all corners of the nation to see the stars and legends (and would be stars!), of Australian country music on the main Muster stage. And there's 13 other on-site venues too, including folk, alt-country, bush poetry, country dance, Talent Search, workshops, international film festival, art auctions, not to mention a full-on Blues program.
A Gympie Apex Club project, the Muster operates under the very professional direction of one of the founding group, Brian Sansom who has been involved in the event since it's inception in 1982.
But the Muster is more than just a spectacular celebration of music - over 50 community groups and 2000 volunteers annually help Apex stage this non-profit community-based festival to raise funds for charities Australia-wide. Since it's inception, the Muster has raised over $10M for charities and the Muster's Rural Aid Appeal annually raises up to $100,000 for it's nominated charity.
Its best described as a huge Country music festival – this year running over 3days of the weekend and having 8 stages continuously playing!!
This year its expected that 50,000 people will attend over the weekend – many camping at the site for the weekend, and many have been camping there for the last 2 weeks to get the best places and because its their holiday and they catch up with friends who also come for the 2 weeks prior.
In 1982, Gympie based country music trio, the Webb Brothers, picked up a Golden Guitar for "Who Put The Roo In The Stew?" at the Tamworth Country Music Festival - a celebration was called for! After enlisting the help of the local Apex Club of Gympie (always ready for a party), a celebratory fund-raiser was held on the Webb's 100-year old property at Thornside. A ball and dinner on the Saturday night was followed by a selection of acts on the Sunday, the Muster's first Main Stage built out of bush timber and borrowed Queensland Rail tarpaulins. The showers were jam tins with holes punched into them, drophole toilets sufficed, drinking water was trucked to the site and patrons could buy a season pass for just $20. Announcers from 4KQ compered the show and SEQ Television produced a special program commemorating the event. All up $9,600 was spent on entertainment (which is about two-percent of today's budget), a couple of thousand people attended and the club generated a surplus of around $12,000 for charity. The first Muster was deemed a roaring success.
After three years, the event had grown significantly. The Club decided that another site was essential - permanent facilities could be established to ensure the ongoing growth of the event. The site chosen was an area of land owned by the Queensland Forestry Department. It was agreed that the site have a multiple use as a State Forest Park which would utilise the Muster's facilities The 1985 Muster was held at Amamoor Creek State Forest Park. From there, the event has continued each year to grow in attendance and in profile. As more and more patrons attended, Muster organisers developed venues, among the first were the infamous Crow Bar, Muster Club and the Talent Search.
In 1993, Australia was suffering the worst drought on record. The Club decided to commit all funds raised to support the national drought appeal. As a result, the Rural Aid Appeal was initiated. The Appeal annually raises funds for a major charity each year through the sale of compilation CDs and a range of specially designed merchandise. Over the years, Rural Aid beneficiaries have included Diabetes Australia, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Leukaemia Foundation, Youth Suicide Prevention, VISE (Volunteers for Isolated Students Education), Transplant Australia and the Melanoma Foundation and recently, isolated communities suffering the long-term effects of drought.
The event has grown each year, with all profits distributed among worthy charities, both locally and nationally. An ever-growing number of community groups are also involved in the staging of the event, and for most, it is their major fundraiser for the year. There is a real sense of community ownership in the Muster with now more than 50 local community groups involved in the event's success.
Since its inception, the Muster has raised more than $14,000,000 dollars for charities Australia-wide.
A good idea of the muster can be seen at youtu.be/ztdAYL1Rh7Y
Since I live "just up the road" we might take a run over there tomorrow - it would make a nice relaxing Sunday afternoon, sitting listening to country music in the middle of the State forest.
I just found out it will cost $120 a head to go in for a day!! Needless to say we won't be going!!