I got there on Friday afternoon, arriving on the coach, and checking into the Apollo Bay Hotel (that's the big flat pub with the sprawling beer garden); I then wandered around the township, which I hadn't seen for something like 10 years. I first came to Apollo Bay when I was 17, and have vivid memories of that summer; the sensation of the vast chasm of time between then and now (a lot changes in 11 years) was quite profound.
(Apollo Bay has changed, but not as much as I feared. It hasn't become the St Kilda by the Otways that some have said; and while there is a prominent tourist industry, it's not all chrome yuppie latté bars and bling-bling, at least not yet. (No, that'd be Lorne.) Apollo Bay is still a small township, with a lack of slickly branded consumer experiences, thank the Gods for that. (How long that will last I don't know; land prices are through the roof and the wealthy are buying up land, undoubtedly to knock down the modest houses and replace them with chrome-and-concrete lifestyle fortresses.) The changes I've noticed are that the old Post Office building is now a fruit shop (I think it was an arts shop in 1992, but I'm not sure), and the Mechanics' Hall is no longer a cinema. (I remember seeing a rather bad horror movie there in 1991.)
Anyway, the bands: the highlights from what I saw would be FourPlay (who rocked; the crowd went wild, even in the unenviable Sunday morning slot), Sarah-Jane Wentzki (who has a great voice, and played some melancholic almost trip-hop compositions on guitar, accompanied by Seth Rees' shoegazing guitarwork), and the all-star jam at the end (led by Melbourne reggae outfit Bomba, who obviously studied Bob Marley in great detail). Other acts I saw included the Mongolian Fishmongers (who weren't as punk as the blurb suggested, being more of a pub-style Celtic/country outfit, and none of them had bizarre hair or piercings), Ember Swift (who was quite good in a folky PC singer-songwriter sort of way) and Skazz (who played a mixture of 1960s-style ska and jazz, and did a good job of it). The opening night performance was quite cool too, with fireworks, fire twirling, and people in costumes, and various music (the second piece, with the flute and massed choir, was quite good).
Other than that, I bimbled around Apollo Bay, took a lot of photos (the ones which weren't obliterated when my camera crashed may be posted here soon), went to a few workshops (the TZU turntablism workshop (which was fun), and a blues guitar workshop (which was somewhat interesting)), and hung around with friends (Peter and the gang, and Seth and friends).
All in all, I had a great time. I'll probably go back next year.
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