Marion Bay: For years, the South-East Tasmanian coastal point has seemed the less impressive, plainer sibling to the splashier Falls Festival destinations of Lorne and Byron Bay. In many uninitiated minds, Tasmania – while now boasting some of Australia’s biggest Instagram-compatible photo opps – was a fallback if the Victorian or New South Wales New Year tickets sold out; a relief chosen when friendships circles just couldn’t get it together come August pre-sale dates. With an ocean separating the mainland, roadtrips complete with McDonalds and Mission corn chips seemed null and void. Was it too far away? Would the bigger acts flock to ring in New Year’s Eve at the more popular festivals? What would a Falls be like at Marion Bay?
As GRAZIA learned, it’s the best of a very good bunch. And on it’s 15th birthday, it’s celebrating hard.
As the stinging sun beats down on a NYE on the Apple Isle (no, that heat is not the ozone layer over Tassie), Oasis great Liam Gallagher is serenading a mellowed and sunbathed crowd below; Greedy Soul, For What It’s Worth, You Better Run, Morning Glory… the list goes on. To stage left though is a sparkling sea, so sapphire in colour it appears like a painting on a rather regal wall. Staring into the deep-blue distance, the same body of water many festival goers scamper to by day as means of removing the glitter from their beards and bodies, Gallagher adds to the magic with Wonderwall. And, just like that – mere hours from the turn of a new year – it’s impossible to feel anything else but a high.
This dizzying elation is rivalled by Peking Duk who in 2017 were tasked with leading Tasmania into better times come midnight. They had big stage boots to fill after Flume’s monstrous set (and blue confetti) the night before, Never Be Like You being his peak. Yes, after three days of incredible local and international artists (from GRAZIA pick Julia Jacklin and Angus and Julia Stone’s staple indie-folk to American act Fleet Foxes, rappers Run The Jewel, Melbourne offering The Smith Street Band, legend Daryl Braithwaighte and Foster The People bringing the mega live sound of their new Scared Hearts Club album to Oz) Peking Duk are ready. “We hope you’re standing next to someone special” says Reuben Styles. As the cold front sets in (Marion Bay is renowned for being steaming hot by day and Icelandic by night) midnight strikes. Streamers reign. Kisses exchange.
The Kooks mine deep into their back catalogue (Naïve, anyone?) to continue 2018’s fire at the Valley stage with Nina Las Vegas billed as the closer. And as the sun rises on thousands of camping tents and wee-hour D+Ms on January 1, the beach glistens. Forgive us Lorne, Byron and Fremantle, you just can’t compare to this beauty.
Next New Year, pack the Range Rover – and even if it’s only for a temporary deviation from your usual Falls go-to – Tasmania is winning the Falls Wars. And one you most definitely need to experience.