ChillOut! 2011

Chillout Guide CoverSo, I’m back from ChillOut!, having decided not to stay for the Monday festivities. It was a fun experience, although I’m not sure how much of it was really my thing. My boyfriend and I arrived on Friday, and due to a booking mess up (on my part) we only had one night’s worth of accommodation in Daylesford itself. Thankfully, one of our friends in Baccus Marsh came to the rescue and we bunked in with him for the Saturday and Sunday nights, which was good, otherwise we might have had to return after only one day there.

Had dinner at The Farmers Arms Hotel, which was good (if pricey). I ordered the venison as an entree and the pork neck as a main. Both were excellent, although the bread the cured venison was served on tasted a bit stale. It wasn’t soft, but it lacked the crisp crunch I think it was meant to have–it seemed as though it had been toasted and then left too long before serving it up, resulting in a rather unexciting texture. For his part, my boyfriend loved the vegetable parcel entree, but didn’t like the lentils that accompanied the pheasant main. Personally I did, I think he just doesn’t really like lentils.

Dayleford itself was a riot of rainbows. It seemed like every establishment had a rainbow flag up–even the ANZ bank (okay, admittedly they are a sponsor). You know something strange is going on when the banks are flying pride flags. All right, I get that ChillOut ┬áis one of the Hepburn Shire’s biggest events, with an economic impact somewhere around the $30 million mark. I also would much prefer to be welcomed with pride flags than run out of town, but most of the flag flying seemed very commercial. It was ‘Hey, gay people, come shop here!!’, which admittedly is something I advocate as one of the best ways to improve tolerance, but part of me objected to the almost over the top gaudiness that the festival seemed to engender. I’m all for bring inclusive and encouraging gay people to shop at your establishment. But if you’re only going to fly the pride flag for 3 days a year, I’m probably going to ask what you do to support gay community the other 362 days. Frankly, a small, understated rainbow flag sticker in your window will do more to endear your business to me than jumping onboard the queer bandwagon for a 3 day festival. Of course, if you’re flying the pride flag all year round, then I may consider it something I wouldn’t necessarily do, but I will respect and fully support your business in doing so. Up to and including shopping there.

Just saying.

Anyway, a big thanks to everyone who turned up at Horvat’s Wine Bar on Saturday for the banQuet 2011 readings, and a very special thanks to Gabriel for opening the bar up to us (and for the drinks and pizzas–try the spicy lamb, it’s excellent), and to Carson and Dettori at banQuet Press for organising the event. It was fantastic to have another chance to read my work, promote my novel, and hear some of the stories from banQuet women 2011.

Sunday was carnival day, and I ran into some old friends I haven’t seen in years (literally) but we got rained out, which was unfortunate. Ended up back in Baccus Marsh where I made a roast chicken and fell asleep on my boyfriend’s lap before watching Bruno, Top Chef Masters and um… is it Park Street? Can’t remember–the trashy mag one (okay, I slept through most of it).

So would I go again? Maybe. It was a bit annoying to have to pay $20 to get into the Carnival, but the food was better than at Midsumma. Next time I just have to remember to bring a picnic blanket. And maybe a pop up tenty thing.