Take a read through our first quick guide on what to expect from this year’s ChillOut Festival, the largest regional GLBTI festival in the country.

Fundraising help from your friends
Take a quick glance at this year’s ChillOut Festival guide and one charity pops up as one of the main fundraisers — anti-bullying crusaders The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

It’s thought bullying affects around one student in every four in Australia, while La Trobe University researchers have found same-sex attracted young people can be subjected to harmful levels of verbal and physical abuse.

Alannah and Madeline Foundation prevention manager Maree Stanley told the Star Observer although the Foundation’s programs cover homophobic bullying, money raised at ChillOut will enable the Foundation to work further on anti-homophobia initiatives to include in its current programs.

“It’s been a very strong and unique partnership [with ChillOut] and we at the Foundation feel very honoured that we’ve got the opportunities again,” she said.

The Foundation has just held its National Buddies week as part of the Better Buddies program which pairs young students with older students and aims to reduce bullying in schools.

In 2009 ChillOut raised $12,000 for the Foundation’s Buddies for Wildlife program, an initiative which aimed to teach primary school children to respect and care for local wildlife and each other.

“I’d have never been able to do it without their support. It’s added a whole new module on to our program,” Stanley said.

“We’ve built some really good connections and networks in the [Hepburn] community, and, of course, the values [in Better Buddies] are important for all walks of life because it’s about friendliness, respect, responsibility, valuing difference and including others.”

Over the last 13 years, ChillOut has donated around $150,000 to not-for-profit organisations in the Hepburn Shire including the local fire brigades and hospital.

This year money raised will go to the anti-cyberbullying e-Smart program, which is in the process of being rolled out in Victorian schools.

Last year the Victorian Government announced it would deliver $10.6 million to aid the roll-out. Stanley said additional money raised will allow other non-government schools, not eligible for the program, to pick it up.

“We’re talking about helping schools and their students and their teachers and their parents understand where their responsibilities lie, because it’s not just during school time that things happen, especially in the cyber world — things are happening 24/7,” Stanley said.

“We say if a student’s wellbeing is being affected, then the school and the school community need to know about it and work towards improving it.”

Daylesford do-si-do
If you’ve never been to ChillOut’s Bush Dance before, this is your year. Think hundreds of hot and sweaty queers packed in a ‘barn’ jigging and square dancing ’til the cows come home. It’s a hoot.

If you’ve never square-danced before, fear not, a dance caller will be on hand to help you learn the steps.

Don your most colourful plaid shirt and ripped denim for a terrific night out with some ol’ fashioned, thigh-slapping fun to the good-time music of The Family Farm and The Cartwheels.

The Bush Dance was so popular last year dancers were almost bursting out of the hall, so it’s best to get in early. This year the event has moved to the more spacious Town Hall in Daylesford. Make sure you don’t miss it. Cost $20, bookings essential.

info: Visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au

Let’s dance
The ChillOut Dance Party is on again at Daylesford Town Hall on March 13. The Town Hall is lit up in rainbow colours during the festival and, with Monday off work, the dance party is a perfect way to keep the party going on the Labour Day long weekend.

This year features ChillOut regular Miss Eleni, who will hit the decks with her club mix of soulful house, and fellow Aussie DJ David Thrussell.

Thrussell has gained international attention with his electro-cinematic soundscapes. He has performed sets at international music festivals and includes playing at one of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s private parties on his CV. Tickets are $50 pre-sale only (no ticket sales at the door).

info: To book, visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au and follow the links.

Hit a high score
Sports have been a surprise success at recent ChillOut festivals with the popular golf tournament attracting a bevy of enthusiastic golfers with a range of handicaps. Set in tranquil bushland, the 18-hole course will host three events on March 12 including the women’s, men’s and mixed tournaments.

Cost $25 entry and includes a BBQ. If you’re more of a sporting spectator, take a look at the crash-and-bash hijinks of the roller derby girls, who face off at Daylesford High School on the same day. For those who fancy getting their heart rate going during the weekend, a range of activities are on offer including mountain biking, horse trail rides, bocce, yoga, barefoot bowls, and a Great Lakes walk.

info: Visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au

A delightful day out

ChillOut Festival’s signature event, Carnival Day, draws crowds from far and near and for good reason.

The event — on March 13 — is one of the most laidback on the gay and lesbian calendar, but not without plenty to see, hear, eat and drink. This year festival-goers will be treated to two stages of entertainment with pop-jazz artist Kimbra, the Blow Waves, Michelle Parsons, Drags Aloud, Lee Rosser, the Singh Sisters, and Dolly Diamond and Luke Gallagher on the main stage.

Blues and folk duo Dirty Lucy will join Cyndi Boste, Kodiak, The Hazelman Brothers and Leda and Caleb on the second stage.

Tickets are available to purchase online in advance for $16 (or $20 at the gate). The event is free for children under 14 years with a parent or guardian. Gates open 11am – 6pm.

info: For tickets, visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au

Party on parade
If you need proof we queers like to create a bit of colour and noise wherever we are, look no further than the ChillOut Street Parade.

While the parade’s more modest stroll around Daylesford’s main shopping drag doesn’t quite rival the revelry on Oxford St, the event still has its sparkle and fun.

The event draws a mix of curious locals and seasoned pride march-goers, and although a smaller affair, its rural setting gives the ‘we’re here, we’re queer’ attitude a little more relevance.

The parade starts off traditionally with Dykes on Bikes, plus a few favourite colourful characters. This year organisers have dangled a carrot for participants, with $500 awarded to the best entry. The parade starts at 10.30am.

And they’re racing
It’s odds on to be a favourite event this year as punters and fashionistas alike descend on Kynteon Park Racing Club for ChillOut’s first country race day.

The event on March 12 will feature the re-scheduled Hanging Rock Cup and plenty of racing action. Entertainment has been planned throughout the day, including MC Dolly Diamond, music, and local food and wine stalls.

The ChillOut Country Races coincide with one of the biggest days on the Victorian racing calendar and a big screen will be set up to broadcast races from Flemington and around the state.

A shuttle bus for racegoers will also run during the day from the Daylesford information centre to Kyneton Station to the racetrack.
Tickets will be sold at the gate. Cost $10 or $6 concession, free for children under 15.

info: Call 03 5422 1866 or visit www.chilloutfestival.com.au

The Boste of both worlds
Cyndi Boste has a musical style that’s difficult to pin down. The Victorian singer-songwriter has been described as alternative, blues and roots, country and, above all, lyrical. She’s been entrancing audiences around Australia and the world for years with her guitar-based songwriting that puts the focus on Boste’s rich, soulful voice.

This year, Boste will play as part of a double-headline set with duo Dirty Lucy at the ChillOut festival in her adoptive home town Daylesford.

“I was in Melbourne up until two years ago. I’ve lived [in Daylesford] on and off over the years—I love it up here. Hopefully I’ve made a permanent tree-change. I love this community, always have,” she said.

Boste sees ChillOut as an important part of the Daylesford community.

“I think that the community’s really proud of ChillOut and takes pride in the fact that they’re gay friendly. And the town genuinely is,” she said.

“Even the teenagers don’t blink about gay stuff, which is nice.”

Joining her for the duration of her set on viola and mandolin will be Dirty Lucy’s Jodi Ludwig-Moore, who Boste says is everything she looks for in a musical collaborator.

“Someone who can hear the songs and knows when not to play is the key, I think. Leaving space is quite an art form, so finding those sorts of people who are really sensitive to the song is a hard thing but it’s great when you find it.”

Boste’s songwriting had slowed down in recent years so that she can focus on teaching guitar and songwriting, but she’s getting back into the swing of it.

“I’ve had a few little things start popping out, so I think it’s all back on its way again, which is nice,” she said.

Boste hopes that this momentum will lead to recording a new album in the next year or so.

But of course, while she acknowledged that practical realities can get in the way of a music career, what the future holds is anyone’s guess when it comes to Boste’s long-awaited fifth album.

“I don’t know if it’ll be this year, it might be early next year by the time I get something out, but hope springs eternal, so we’ll see what happens,” she said.

“I might just have a flurry of writing and magically there’ll be money in the bank to record another one.”

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