Grey nomads put the White Cliffs Music Festival on the map

Like the town, the White Cliffs music festival is just a little different


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White Cliffs Music Festival celebrates 10 years.

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Festival organiser and founder, Anne Baker. Photo by Rachael Webb.

Festival organiser and founder, Anne Baker. Photo by Rachael Webb.

Music festivals take place all over the country, but the White Cliffs festival stands out and not just for its outback location.

As well as a concert, the festival has a street party, camp fire singalong, poet breakfast and gospel church service.

This year it celebrated its 10 year anniversary and featured the return of the 'best of the best' performers of the last decade.

Festival organiser, Anne Baker said her late brother, musician Ray "Bluey" Stuchbery of the Bush Larikans, had been entertaining people at the White Cliffs pub for years, but it was country music singer, Trevor Knight that first had the idea to hold a music festival in the town.

"We went to a do at the Wilcannia golf club one night and Trevor Knight was playing with Natalie Foley," Anne said.

"Trevor said why don't you do a music festival, get White Cliffs on the map, people will come."

And people did, the festival finding its biggest groupies were the grey nomads.

"Word of mouth has gotten out among the grey nomads and the caravan park was actually spilling out into the back paddock," Anne said.

This year, Anne met grey nomads who had done a 1200 kilometre detour to attend the festival.

Others stumble upon it by chance when passing through the town, 300 kilometres east of Broken Hill.

"There was a bus of people staying at the motel who weren't aware that the music festival was on so this bus load of people turned up at the street party and joined in, they were great fun, they all did a conga line, it just added to the atmosphere," Anne said.

Songwriting, didgeridoo, guitar and comedy workshops ensure everyone has a chance to stretch their creative muscle even if it doesn't come naturally, while bush stew is served up for dinner.

Anne herself, who said she has a contingency plan for contingency plans, joins in with her banjo at the festival every now and then.

The concert, this year included Nick Charles, The Davidson Brothers, Pete Denahy with Aron McLean, the Jam Tarts Trio and of course Elvis, not the one from Memphis, the one from Nyngan.

A lot of the action takes place in the town hall. Anne said they tried to go big in the second year and move the concert to the oval with the help of a local truck company who loaned a trailer for the stage.

But, the weather was against them, the first cold snap of the year arrived the weekend of the festival.

"Everyone sat in their utes that were facing towards the stage with their doonas and everything trying to keep warm because it was so cold," Anne said.

"I don't know how the musicians were able to use their fingers or keep their voices.

"From then on we went back to the hall."

The festival takes place every year in the third week of May and is supported by Arts NSW, FRRR, Foundation Broken Hill and many local sponsors.

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