I had the privilege of visiting Beyond the Valley Festival in Victoria, Australia to ring in the new year, and it was a wonderful experience. This music festival went above and beyond to create an awesome weekend for its attendees, and there was truly a bit of something for everyone. Located in the rolling green knolls of Lardner Park in central Gippsland, Beyond the Valley Music Festival had the perfect backdrop, crowd, lineup, and more for the perfect New Year’s celebration.
Put on by Triple J and Untitled Group, Beyond the Valley had a great mix of live music/popular bands and a stacked house + techno lineup as well. Mixed in with too many scrumptious food vendors to try, tons of markets and beauty tents to get festival-ready, a few fun extra parties, and a surplus of extra activities like speed dating, yoga, and swimming – you have a complete festival package of awesomeness. With its extremely manageable size and camping areas in close proximity, you really couldn’t go wrong at this festival.
Want to know more? Read on for my comprehensive Beyond the Valley review + festival guide, which delves into all the aspects of the music festival from fashion, security, and ticket prices to lineup, crowd, and transportation/parking situations.
Beyond the Valley Location/Venue
The Beyond the Valley Festival location is Larder Park in Victoria – about an hour and a half east of Melbourne, a bit southwest of Warragul. The park is a gorgeous green and hilly area, situated around/above a man made lake.
There are quite a few different camping areas on pretty much all sides of the venue, and each has a certain color of name assigned to them to make them easier to locate on the map – more on that later!
The Beyond the Valley venue was extremely manageable, with just two main stages with headliners playing, and two smaller stages doing their own thing.
The main stage had more of the mainstream/famous/live acts playing in an open-air setting. This stage was just above the lake, giving it an awesome view from onlookers going up a gradual hill.
The stage was adorned with reflective gold plates, giving it a really picturesque appearance against the green hilly backdrop. The sound system here was fantastic, and you could hear the music from all areas around the stage and from supplemental speakers at the back.
The Dance Tent was just a few minutes away from the Main Stage, just up and over a small incline. The Dance Tent reminded me a lot of structures I have seen at Coachella, Boom, and Lightning in a Bottle made by the Do Lab – it was extremely colorful, with different panels of fabric hanging over and beside a main dancing area. There was a massive light panel across the front displaying amazing light shows, with the dj on top of it. The whole area was spread with sand, which was nice because it felt like you were at the beach but also quite strange to get stuck in big piles later at night 😛
Jim Beam On Tour
The Jim Beam stage was a bit hidden – you had to enter through a sea container on another side of the venue near the food trucks. Once you got in, however, it was awesome. Some headliners also played at this stage, and it had its own full lineup as well as the other two main stages. I heard every type of different music coming from this stage, from 80’s hits all the way to tech house. Unless you knew the artists you’d probably never know what you were going to get, but it was always a good time and the Jim Beam cocktails flowed like wine. I spent the last hour or so of night one here, dancing to 80’s bangers!
Dr. Dan’s Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swinger Club
Oh yes, you read that one right. This was actually one of my favorite little venues of the whole festival – located actually technically in the camping area right outside the main gate. This was like the little side stage that you get pulled into because of a dirty bassline and end up dancing away there for 4 hours and don’t even realize how much time has passed (that’s happened to everyone else at least once, right? RIGHT?!). Ha, but honestly, it was a lot of fun and where the smaller dj’s just basically played whatever the hell they wanted. It was usually funky housey bassy tracks – lots of fun.
They also held a Poof Doof – one of the most fun events of the weekend – at this stage. Poof Doof is an awesome and ostentatious gay bar that also brings its events to different places around Melbourne. The enclosed stage was completely full for this event, and there were drag queens strutting their stuff on the poles surrounding the crowd, up in the dj booth, and everywhere really. Two amazing drag queens played a killer set as well. It was inclusive, colorful, flamboyant, and fun.
For the extra things to do and parts of the venue, see below!
The Poof Doof Event at Dr Dan’s Stage
Beyond the Valley Crowd + Vibe
The crowd at Beyond the Valley is basically what you would expect of a mainstream/Triple J crowd. This is NOT a doof crowd – not even close – although some doofers do come to Beyond the Valley because of the awesome house + techno names it brings into the lineup. And by that, I mean it was not really a conscious crowd. People threw their rubbish everywhere, and it was the kind of crowd that would just push through people to get through the stages without saying excuse me. Like, how hard is it to say excuse me?! This was the kind of crowd that truly believed that they could leave everything at their campsite because the expensive cost of their ticket covered the cost of cleanup. I actually heard a guy say that and it made my blood boil, but this is the kind of crowd you’d expect at a festival that isn’t a burn, doof, or transformational festival I suppose.
Beyond the Valley didn’t have a major focus on art and decor, but it was definitely around. The stages in and of themselves were colorful, pretty, and beautifully done. None of the festival was done in a boring way – the light shows were awesome, speakers were on point, and the stages were unique. There were painted panels all over the site, some with feathers or other colorful patterns. There was a massive hammock structure in the middle of the venue as well. There were sandy beach areas with beach chairs near the pools, and everything was legibly and colorfully labeled from the toilets and showers to the different areas.
While not having a massive focus on atmosphere, BTV still did it well and did all they needed to do to make it awesome.
Main Stage at New Years
Beyond the Valley Lineup/Music/Artists
Beyond the Valley is put on both by Triple-J and Untitled Group, which represent both the mainstream Aussie music and a bit more underground dj scene, respectively. The lineup reflected that perfectly in having a fantastic mix of more mainstream live acts and some fantastic house + techno djs. There was a little bit of everything at this festival, and there was really something for everyone.
The main stage was graced by acts such as Tash Sultana, The Kooks, Duke Dumont, Bonobo, Boo Seeka, Client Liason, Running Touch, Vera Blue, Late Night Tuff Guy, Fisher, SAFIA, Bonobo, Joey Bada$$, REMI, and Pnau. A lot of these acts are either extremely famous or have live elements to their shows. Sets at the main stage were usually about an hour, give or take 15-30 mins.
The Dance tent saw artists like Kolsch, Oxia, Peggy Gou, Richy Ahmed, KiNK, Dom Dolla, Yotto, Mall Grab, Foals, and DJ Tennis. These sets were all generally 2 hours long, giving the artists the perfect amount of time to build up their vibe.
The organization of the lineup was generally very successful, give or take a few slightly more confusing placements (such as putting Duke Dumont before The Kooks on New Year’s eve – seemed backwards to many of us). There was a fun dj playing throwback tunes during the main stage changeover times, which the crowd seemed to love as well.
The camping areas from the entrance
Beyond the Valley Camping
As I mentioned above, Beyond the Valley Festival camping was basically on all sides of the venue. Camping came with each ticket, but you would have to purchase a car pass. You have to arrive with friends in order to get the same camping spot with them, as the camping is laid out in neat rows in order, with lots of space for each area. There was an area to wait for your friends so you could all drive in together and get a spot together. Most of the camping was car camping, and there were also a few parking lots so you could walk over to meet your friends if need be.
The general camping lots were on pretty much all sides of the venue. There was a Black, Blue, Orange, Purple, Silver, Pink, and Green Camps, basically circled around the main venue area. No camp would be more than about a 10-15 (tops) minute walk to get into the main area – sometimes 3-5. It was small and nicely manageable. It was a bit hilly but nothing too crazy.
Again, all these general camping areas were car camping areas with people gathered around a few cars, tents, and EZ-up’s (do they call those something different in Australia?!).
Electric City was a camping area near the Lux Camp which had access to electricity. I think this is where anyone with an RV would go, or people who just wanted a little extra comfort of being able to charge things. Passes to this camping area would need to be purchased as an extra package.
Luxe Camp AKA Lux Vegas
Lux Camp – Glamping
The Lux Camp was a pretty big thing at Beyond the Valley Festival. There were dozens (hundreds?) of two-person pre-erected luxe tents, located right next to the lake and a few minutes to one of the main entrances. The Luxe Tents included beds/bedding, a mirror, electricity, towels, a special pool/bathroom/shower, and a lock.
This was the basic Lux package, but if you wanted even MORE amenities (rug, door mat, queen bed, throw, sofa, cushions, etc etc etc) you could do a few different upgrade packages for these tents. Prices got pretty high, but these are super nice and spacious if you have the money.
Staff/Media/Artist Guest Camp
At the top of the hill near a big building was the staff and media camp – this is where I was! It was a small sectioned off area which made it feel very safe. This camp also got access to the big building where the artists were hosted – only a small corner of it, but this is where the EXTREMELY nice and usually empty bathrooms were. You’ll be in luck if you work, because having a real bathroom to get ready in was something I have hardly ever experienced at a festival.
No better way to start the day than a lakeside pool dip!
Beyond the Valley Showers + Toilets
The camping areas at BTV all had accessible toilets and showers. The toilets (unless you were in luxe camp) were porta-potty type units, which were spead all over the park and venue. The showers were similar small units like the toilets, and were spread out over the whole venue at most corners and also FREE! The lines could get quite long in the morning but nothing too crazy. The Lux camp had their own toilets and showers also.
There were a few general stores throughout the venue, selling anything you could need for camping. From air mattresses and sleeping bags to tissues, red bull, baby wipes, drinks, and snacks, these really had it all if you needed to top up your camping stock.
One of the coolest things about Beyond the Valley festival is the swimming pools. They have a few massive pools next to the lake, situated on a little (man-made) sandy beach with beach chairs and lifeguards. The pools are right next to a general store and coffee shop too, so they are the perfect way to wake yourself up in the morning before getting ready and grab anything you may need for the day. Did they get a big mangy? I mean, yes and no. There was definitely some sand and grime but they didn’t get too bad. If you use them to cool off before an actual shower, cool off, or just cleanse yourself a bit, they’re fine.
A meditation going on in the workshops area, as well as some fake brides heading into the inflatable church for their unholy wedding. 😛
Beyond the Valley Festival Amenities – Other Stuff to Do/Extra Activities
There was plenty else to do at Beyond the Valley Festival, even after you cool off in the pool! Here are a few things that went on inside the venue:
The Sanctuary area was right inside the main entrance to the festival, and had all the extra kinds of activities in the mindfulness/creativity sector. It really was a sanctuary, with lots of chill spaces with bean bags and chairs if you just needed to get away from it all for a bit. There was a little schedule of workshops that went each day on in one of the tents, and some things available at all times. Here are some things that went on:
There was a massive pile of small, square, blank canvases, tons of paint, and a bunch of brushes that anyone could just come up and use whenever they pleased. I walked in and was astonished to find the totally free creation zone, and looked over all the amazing/hilarious/beautiful canvases. I then spent the next half hour creating one of my own while chatting with a few fellow newfound artists trying their hand at painting.
Doof Stick Making
On the first day they had multiple windows of Doof Stick Making at Beyond the Valley – how fun! If you don’t know, a ‘doof stick’ is what I call a ‘totem’ in the US; it’s basically anything long, thin, and tall that will help you find your group in the crowd. These are usually funny pictures or phrases at the top of a stick, sometimes with lights. They can be anything!
Meditations, Sound Healing, Sound Journey
They had all kinds of mediations in the workshop area, many of them incorporating sound or instruments. I did one that used a sound bowl with a didjeridoo and bells. It was lovely and grounding, and lead by such a beautiful couple. I’m sure they were all different but equally perfect for a little relaxing of the mind during a busy day.
Okay, I’m actually so sad I missed this! It would have been so much fun, especially at a festival. They had speed dating a few of the days in the sanctuary area, and I would love to know if anyone found their festival girlfriend/boyfriend.
There was yoga each day at 9am, for the extra-keen early bird who didn’t go a bit too crazy the night before. But in saying that, the music ended at 3am most nights so you could still get a good few (festival) hours in before yoga if you wanted.
Tarot Cards, Massage
Another side of the Sanctuary area had a space for other things like tarot card reading, massage, and more. For these activities you would have had to go in earlier and book yourself a time. My friend had her tarot cards read, and she said it was amazing.
Market Stalls and Beauty Services
There were TONS of market stalls at Beyond the Valley festival. There was every kind of festival dress-up you can imagine, from sunglasses to jewelry to clothing of every possible kind. There were a few well-known clothing brands there, as well as some smaller ones. There was even a charity tent selling books for refugees! One thing that’s for sure is that you could find basically anything festival-related here that you could want, and it would be silly not to have a wander through all the options.
As far as extra things at the market stalls, there were plenty of hair and beauty tents as well. The famous ‘glitoris’ tent would have you covered with glitter, and there were other tents that would glitter and braid your hair, or even your beard! How fun. There was a temporary tattoo tent with high quality tats (mine lasted ages), and well as phone charging for anyone who needed it.
The Inflatable Church
To me, this was one of the highlights of the festival! It was SO much fun, SO inappropriate, SO hilarious, and just generally the funniest idea ever. Basically what it was, was a massive inflatable church with a potty-mouthed vicar and an alien-faced DJ where you could marry someone in unholy matrimony just for shits & giggles. They had an entire tent full of hilarious costumes and glitter, where men were encouraged to wear dresses and women were encouraged to, well, get weird also.
I didn’t know what was going on at first when I saw a guy holding up the train of another guy’s dress ready to walk down the aisle. Intrigued, I went inside and became a part of the best wedding party ever, with two glitter-faced couples getting married with a wedding speech peppered with outrageous lines, rude jokes, and so much laughter. I saw a wedding taking place between three girls later on the next day – they all had fake rings, vows, and the whole shebang. So good.
You have a few options to get to Beyond the Valley Festival:
I would say that most people drove themselves to the festival, in that the camping areas were car camping. This is fairly easy to do, and only 1.5 hours from Melbourne and it’s nice to have a car to lock things in. Just be mindful that there are car searches (see below) and that there are alcohol and drug tests on the way out too.
Yes, it’s possible! If you want to take public transport to BTV, you can get yourself to Drouin Station or Warragul Station and there are free shuttle busses to and from the venue from there. Too easy! You can get a train to these stations that goes through Flinders or Southern Cross. Busses run during usual hours (8-6pm) from the first day to the last day to these stations.
For $79, Beyond the Valley had its own charter busses that ran from central Melbourne (Fed Square) to the Beyond the Valley location. The numbers and timings depended on bookings, but they had plenty available.
Food/Drink at Beyond the Valley
The Beyond the Valley Food was freaking FANTASTIC. There were SO many options that it was almost too many!! There were food stalls all around the outside of the venue, on both sides, and they all had really good options. Some of the stuff they had was:
- A REALLY good burger place, with tons of options and loaded fries too.
- All kinds of coffee and iced coffee
- A Ribs place with perhaps the best loaded fries i have ever had, involving cheese, veggies, and shredded rib meat.
- Avocado Tent with Avo on EVERYTHING
- A Vegan-Optional tent that did fantastic nachos, I got the beef ones 😛
- Steak Sandwiches + Brekky Rolls + Sausage Sizzle
- Pork Crackling Tent with many variations thereof
- Paella Tent
- Amsterdam Tent with sweets like waffles and Dutch pancakes
- Indian Food
- Seafood/Calamari Tent
- Greek Souvlaki
Okay, do you get the point? There was everything. Whatever you felt like, it was there. Whatever you didn’t feel like, it was also there. I swear I ate sometimes just because I really wanted to try something from one of the food stands. It really was that good.
Beyond the Valley Drinks
Oh, of course, the dranks. They were abundant and plentiful. There were so many bars that there was hardly ever too long of a line, which was AWESOME. There were heaps of options, from a fancy BTV cocktail to vodka mixers to pre-mixed Jim Beam, CC, double black, etc to beer and cider in cans. There was a VIP bar near the main stage with extra options and less of a line, and of course the Jim Beam stage which focused on everything Jim Beam. There was also a Furphy’s beer truck with a viewing platform on top. There was everything you would expect.
Fisher opening his set just after New Years
Beyond the Valley Tickets + Price
As with any festival, the price of Beyond the Valley tickets depended on at which point you bought them and how many days you want to go. BTV has 4 day, 3 day, 2 day, and 1 day (NYE) passes. I would say that most people either went 3-4 days or just NYE.
Early bird starts cheaper, but just before it sold out (which is usually does) you’d be looking to pay about 430 for 4 days, $390 for 3, $330 for 2, and $180 for NYE. 4 days is obvi the best all-around deal.
On top of your ticket, you’ll want to consider:
Luxe Camping/Camping Packages: $300-$500 per person depending on level of luxuriousness and how many people in the tent! There fits 2-4 people per tent, and some are nicer than others with couches etc. Electric City is another $200 per campsite for plugs etc. Regular campers only need to worry about buying a car pass per car.
Transport: Return bus ticket costs $79, and it might cost the same to split a rental car between 4 people. If you have a car, you eliminate that and just pay gas of course.
Food, drinks, etc: However much you usually spend… plus some, let’s be honest.
Beyond the Valley security line to get in, and a few happy festival-goers!
Beyond the Valley Security
Beyond the Valley was not a BYO event, so police were searching cars for alcohol and well, you know, any other problematic substances.
Getting into the Campground
Beyond the Valley security was fairly tight. There will be police and sniffer dogs searching cars at random. I would say that most cars that went into the general camping entrance were at least searched. The cars I saw before NYE had everything taken out and put back in, but nothing really opened or messed with too much (that I saw). Someone told me that about every third car was searched, so I guess that’s a pretty high chance. I also heard stories about alcohol being found in very well-concealed places, so take with that what you will and be careful!
There wasn’t a search at the staff gate for me, and my friends in Lux said they weren’t searched very much at all. I think the brunt of it goes onto the general camping entrance. I also heard rumors of police going through people’s tents to find alcohol and other things, which of course is completely illegal (if it’s not in plain sight) but is also something to be aware of.
Security Getting into the Venue
There is an extra security check when you walk from the camping into the actual venue with the stages. These guards just basically want to make sure you aren’t bringing any drinks or alcohol in (not that anyone could have any in the campgrounds…. right?! :P). They made people throw away their cups and cans and maybe glanced into a bag or two but that’s all.
Security Inside the Venue
There were cops and security guards walking around the venue here and there, standing at the back edges of crowds and overseeing the general debauchery. Sometimes there would be a group of cops standing by the front of the stages, lingering around and watching people. I’m not sure what they were doing or if they were doing much but they were there, ha.
Selfie time with the amazing drag dg’s at the Poof Doof.
Beyond the Valley Bathrooms
The bathrooms at BTV were average. Most were the kind of porta-potties that had their own little built-in sink in each stall, with a foggy mirror. They were pretty clean to begin with, but went WAY downhill towards the end and especially on the last night. The female toilets were extremely overcrowded on the last night, to the point people were using the men’s and squatting behind things, and half of them were overflowed. I’m not sure if this was a problem with maintenance, or too many people and not enough loos (probably the latter), but the last night was very grim. They rarely ran out of toilet paper though which is, I suppose, a plus.
There were actual toilets in the Lux area, near the staff camping, and also in the VIP area there were some better ones as well. I wouldn’t say you need to bring your own toilet paper but maybe try to use the bathrooms across the festival from a main act or go right before one ends.
Me enjoying a drink from my pineapple cup before heading into the venue 😉
Beyond the Valley Weather
All I have to say about the Beyond the Valley weather is: Melbourne. BTV is classic Melbourne weather aka unpredictable af and will probably run the entire gamut of weather. My year it began by pouring with rain (wet grass, some mud, and all), then forecasted rain for the next two days but hardly rained at all and ended up extremely hot to the sunburn level but freezing at night.
What I mean by this is: you never know. Bring your umbrella, rain jacket, and make sure your tent is waterproof. Make sure you have something warm to bundle up in at the festival at night and when you sleep. But also, be prepared to strip down to swim suit status in the daytime, to stay in the shade, and to have a dip in the pools.
Vera Blue (totally looking right at me 😉 )
Charlie and his multi-colored angels
Beyond the Valley Fashion
In that it is a bit more mainstream than other festivals, Beyond the Valley has a more boho/chic/trendy fashion trend than some other festivals and doofs. That being said, festivals are a place where anyone can dress any way they like, and people all definitely do this. You’ll still see your leotards, fishnets, wigs, and LOTS of glitter, but not EVERYONE goes as hard fashion-wise as they would at, say, Rainbow Serpent. Anything really goes here, but for once I actually wore a super boho outfit and not my usual crazy colorful stuff – just for one of the days 😛
Girls wore all kinds of outfits- really anything festival-y goes. Boys wore party shirts, silly hats, and the occasional costume. Have fun with it if you want, don’t if you don’t… that’s pretty much how BTV went.
Beyond the Valley Themes
That being said, there was a theme my year – SAFARI. The last day had a safari theme and honestly I would say that the majority of people got into it. I honestly didn’t even get the memo (don’t ask me how 🙁 ) but tons of people were wearing animal print, khaki, and safari hats on New Year’s Eve. This kindof surprised me given the crowd, but people really got into it. So make sure to check if there’s a theme when you go.
The Beyond the Valley timings run from about 12-1pm to 3-4am each day, and that goes for music. The main stage begins in the early afternoon and ends around 1-2am, and the Dance Tent begins around the same time and ends later at 3am (4 on NYE). The Jim Beam tent also goes on late night – around 3am also. Late night food is also available (I recommend the shredded rib fries late at night, ha).
Extra activities begin earlier (yoga is at 9am, meditations and activities run 10am – 5/6pm) and end earlier too. The pools are open pretty much all day, as are the general stores etc. Unclear if the showers ever closed but I don’t think so.
Beyond the Valley Money
The bars here only took card, so if you had cash you would need to exchange it at a few different points for these little Beyond the Valley tickets that you could exchange for drinks.
As far as the food tents went, each one was different but I would say most accepted card and some accepted cash.
The crowd going wild for… I can’t remember which act 😛
Beyond the Valley Volunteering
Volunteering was readily available at Beyond the Valley Festival. Volunteers helped with everything from bartending to directing cars to the information desk to giving directions, and the applications were open for a long time. On the website they list different positions and requirements to apply – check it out! You will have to work a few shifts (totaling 20 hours) to get a festival/camping ticket. Not a bad deal if you are short on cash!
You can also apply for market stalls, food vendors, and other staff (bartending was a separate application for some reason) on the site as well.
Final Beyond the Valley Tips
- If you are going with friends, make sure you all caravan and drive in together. This will make for an absolutely epic, massive camp metropolis. Bring Easy-ups for shade above your tents and chill areas.
- Be wary of security checks
- If you camp at the bottom of the hill near orange camp, beware of a huge swamp puddle I heard was there if it rains. I heard about people who fell waist deep into it 😮
- Make sure to check out ALL the stages- Dr. Dan’s and Jim Beam included. Festivals are always more fun when you experience a bit of everything.
- This also goes for the Sanctuary! Head in there at least once for a workshop, to paint, or to chill. You might be surprised how fun it is to let out some creativity, or how relaxing it it to try some yoga or meditation.