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Wide Open Space: Australia’s Best-Kept Festival Secret?

Three days of beats, under the stars, in a resort, near the MacDonnell ranges.
April 8, 2015, 12:10am
Bob Ellisdon

I'll cut straight to the chase. Wide Open Space is the best festival I've been to in Australia and I'm gonna spend the next few minutes telling you why you should go. If you've never heard of it before, here's the basics: It's 3 days of Australia's best underground beats held in a resort at the foot of the MacDonnell ranges, about an hour's drive out of Alice Springs. It's on at the start of May each year.

So why is Wide Open Space so good? Let me spell it out for you.

Everyone is there for the music, the vibe and has usually travelled a hell of a long way to be at the festival site. Comprehensive statistical surveys have been made, and we can safely say, in mathematical terms, Wide Open Space = No Fuckwits

To back this up, I'll even quote the festival's official management policy: "DON'T BE A DICKHEAD…General douchebaggery will not be tolerated."
That's my kind of festival, right there.

Up front, Wide Open Space doesn't do big names. The bill is heavily curated, chock full of up and coming Australian artists, DJ's and bands. For example, this year you'll see indigenous hip hoppers from around Tennant Creek The Desert Sevenz, Sydney-based Punjabi MC L-Fresh the Lion and the total party weirdness of Drazic's Girlfriend all on the main stage. Heck, what other festival can say they've got Analechi on the bill, a two-piece electro act from Yuendumu

Also, naturally, there's dozens more musical acts, plus loads of random workshops and market stalls, from free bowl haircuts to bass music lectures. The crew running Wide Open actually hang out with the local Arrernte mob, who join in the festival. Nothing feels tokenistic; it's an honest, real and bullshit-free Central Desert experience.

Check out Wide Open faves Damn Moroda killing it here:

For many punters that have been before, this is the real draw card for Wide Open. The festival is held at Ross River Resort, an hour's drive east from Alice Springs. It's a seriously amazing spot, nestled in a gorge within the MacDonnell ranges, which run for hundreds of kilometers through the Central Australian desert. Don't be fooled by the name, this resort doesn't do pedicures, it's more of a campground along a riverbed, where you get to bring a swag and camp out under the stars. You can literally take a stroll off the dance floor, climb the mountain range and just look out in awe. Picture the whole Milky way gleaming above you, this prehistoric range stretching as far as the eye can see and a killer party below. It's breathtakingly beautiful.

This year will be Wide Open's 7th year in operation and its on from Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd of May.Yep, it's just under a month away, so you could book a plane to Alice Springs and go see for yourself if you really want.

Now, I don't wanna get all Getaway on you, but May in the desert is the time to be there. Considering the crazy harsh climate out there during summer and Winter, Wide Open is bang in the middle of those few weeks where the desert won't kill a pasty southerner on the spot.

This is no franchise bullshit. Wide Open started with a small crew of weirdos putting on a party cause they love music and hanging out in the desert. Naturally, as the word got out, the festival has grown; from a few hundred people at the first one in 2009 to a few thousand people at last year's show. It's still the real deal, run on loads of volunteer love and by the same crew that started it.

So, if you like your festivals intimate, intriguing and fuckwit-free, Wide Open Space could be just the place for you. I'll see ya there.

Wide Open Space is on from 1-3 May outside of Alice Springs. More information available via the_ website._