My last foray into Jackeys Marsh was around 25 years ago when I was on work experience for The Examiner newspaper. I was sent with a reporter and photographer to cover the front line protests. It was a harrowing experience as I stood in the rain, sinking into the mud in my 80’s court shoes, watching people literally jump on the bulldozers. The anger, passion and desperation from both sides was palpable and left an indelible print on my memory. This is a festival that has been built on a foundation of forestry activism.
The original Jackeys Marsh Forest festival ran for 20 years and after a 10 year hiatus it was resurrected by those who had committed years to the cause. Now in its fourth year, this biannual festival appears to have held onto its roots while managing to move with the times.
While most festivals are opened by the festival director, the welcome came from the next generation who have been supported and nurtured by their elders. There appears to be a genuine intention to hand on the festival to ensure it has longevity and involves young people, many of whom were suckled on the original event.
Unlike some of the larger festivals there are no car cues or angst at the gate. It’s a peaceful scene that greets the festival punter and with the numbers capped at around 1100, including volunteers, this is a perfect event for families and people of all ages.
The location is superb with the small tent city surrounded by mountains and lush hills covered in rainforest and regenerated bushland. While punters can choose to participate in the many workshops, cave walks, classes and live music, it clearly provides the opportunity for friends and families to coral their tents and enjoy a few days in a beautiful location.
It’s a welcome reprieve from city life to bush babe; the tents, cricket being played on the grass and music emanating from across the field is not dissimilar to the large family picnics that I remember from my childhood. It’s friendly and inviting.
The clearing positioned close to the dense bush is a perfect amphitheatre for the many bands, while the Art Trail provides a reprieve for those wishing to take time out.
This is a festival I would willingly return to with friends and family for both the quality of the music and the overall experience.
The Forest Festival is located in Jackeys Marsh, about 20 minutes out of Deloraine in Tasmania’s north. It’s a no waste event with visitors asked to take all rubbish with them when they leave. There are toilet facilities and access to clean drinking water. Sunscreen, shade and wet weather gear is recommended as the weather is changeable.