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Wide Open Perspectives

Central Australia’s eclectic and electrifying Wide Open Space festival returns for a 13th year this May Day weekend. Thinking of making the pilgrimage? Celebrate the creative and cultural delights of the Red Centre’s don’t miss event of the year.

By Betty Sweetlove

If you’re lucky enough to live in Mparntwe (Alice Springs), you’ve probably discussed a few very important questions by now. Have you got your ticket yet? What time are you heading out? Where are you camping? In case you haven’t heard, Wide Open Space (WOS) is just around the corner, and this extraordinary festival is the talk of the town.

Set on Eastern Arrernte Country, the three-day experience begins with a scenic drive towards the magnificent Inteyerrkwe, aka Ross River Resort. Packed with music, performances, food stalls and art installations, this stunning environment makes WOS completely unique amongst the Australian festival line-up.

Local artist Darcy Davis has played all but one WOS, and says it’s the magical moments that keep him coming back every year.

“There’s a special celebration of the town’s culture. The region has this quirkiness, this fun playfulness. There’s a political edge to it, there’s a vibrancy, and there’s connection to Aboriginal culture,” he says.

When it comes to music, this small festival is jam-packed. World-class local acts such as Eastern Arrernte Band, Stellar Sea, and Jessie May and the Hay Days are sure to knock the socks right out of your Birkenstocks. And if going barefoot is more your thing, join gentle yoga sessions with local teacher Amy Victoria against the glorious backdrop of the early morning ranges. Interstate and international acts also trek to the desert, with Hermitude, JessB, Half Queen and Sub-Tribe joining the ranks.

It’s not just a festival for music fans. Last year’s activation of the gorge by Traditional Owners and the community choir is one of Davis’ favourite festival memories, and says it’s amazing to get out of town and set up camp at the foot of the ranges.

“It’s very nourishing on a lot of levels. It’s a wide open perception as well, you see things in a different light.”

Now an iconic staple of the Central Australian cultural calendar, the festival has its roots in desert doof culture, and is a real labour of love by local artists, vendors and volunteers.

Having performed many roles, from running a herb store to curating his own stage, Davis is keen to spend the weekend playing with his band, Purple Patch, and local artist Katanga Junior. He says it’s an unmissable meeting of art, music and desert lifestyle.

“It’s an authentic experience whilst having the time of your life, with respect for the land, with respect for the people.”

So get onto those hot tickets and start planning your pilgrimage to Arrernte Country. It’s time to enjoy some Wide Open Space.

Wide Open Space Festival
COST $260 | $20 U12 | $120 YOUTH (13-17) | $375 FAM DAY PASS

Photos: Oliver Eclipse

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