Party like it’s 1973… Aquarius founders Graeme Dunstan (L) and Johny Allen (R) at Saturday night’s ball with former Captain Matchbox frontman Mic Conway. Photo Jeff ‘A Query Ass’ Dawson
It was a fitting finale to the Aquarius Festival’s 40th anniversary celebrations at Saturday night’s masquerade ball in Nimbin as about 500 people partied late into the night.
Original festival organiser Graeme Dunstan described it as ‘simply the best’.
‘It was just wonderful in so many aspects, the beautifully decorated hall by Benny Zable, the catering by Tropical Fruits, the nicest bunch of caterers you could ever meet, and the music was just brilliant,’ he said.
‘The extraordinary thing for me was the average would’ve been about 60, all dressed up to the nines, dancing in a sprightly fashion to really boppy dance bands like Captain Matchbox and I’m thinking, what an amazing community where the elders are so colourful and energetic and creative.
‘There was so much going on, reunions and big hugs and the healing – you know people who hadn’t talked to each other for years hugging everywhere.
‘But being loved by old friends was what got me most, people I’d worked with years ago coming up and kissing me and hugging me and saying thank you Graeme … oh I’m weeping now.’
Prominent Nimbin permaculturalist Robyn Francis agreed.
‘It was just amazing, fantastic, I’ve never seen the hall so packed and it was just the best fun night I’ve had in Nimbin,’ she said.
The ball wrapped up weeks of celebrations and events to mark the anniversary of the festival considered to be the moment the hippy revolution hit Australia, including a two-day seminar hosted by Southern Cross University.
‘Hats off to the university for the two day conference, it was just brilliant,’ Mr Dunstan said.
‘I initially thought how can I sit through two days of hippy raves when I’d heard it all but I was absolutely entranced – there were so many wonderful insights that came up.
‘The fact it was a university-led conference lifted the game somehow I think – I’d been using the metaphor of a fig tree growing out of the old stump to describe the Aquarius Festival and how it’s provided shelter and fruit for the movement, and now I’m realising there’s a cascade of PhDs pouring from this tree.
‘There’s all this academic interest now in the cultural phenomenon and the consequences that flowed from the festival.
‘I guess it’s like a jewel with many facets and people pecking away at different ones – alternative media, healing therapy, politics etc, so it’s a wonderful returning for people like Johnny Allen and I and all these original Aquarians who worked to produced it.’