Uncovering The Lost Lands

The Lost Lands is an ambitious one-of-a-kind music festival aimed at entertaining adults and kids equally. We caught up with Falls Festival founder Simon Daly to talk about his new creation and the challenges of programming for kids.

Simon Daly and David Strong, the masterminds of The Lost Lands.

It wasn’t until he was celebrating 20 hugely successful years of Falls Festival that Simon Daly realised that he needed a new direction. The creator of one of Australia’s most popular and hotly anticipated music festivals was surrounded by family and close friends, all of whom had helped build this behemoth, when it clicked.

‘Looking around I realised my Mum was getting older and wasn’t quite up for it, and my sister was about to have a child.’ recalls Daly. ‘Back then the festival was expanding and we’d just opened in Tasmania and then Byron Bay. There was the challenge and pressure of having to run three festivals at the same time. I thought that now was a good time to bring it to a close for me.’

It was 2013 when Daly called it quits and, with the Falls Festival caravan riding off without him, he turned his attention to focusing on his family, with he and his wife Carmella tackling the joys of raising two active children and a newborn. Daly was unaware at the time that they would soon provide the inspiration for his next foray into the festival world.

The spark, Daly tells Local Eyes, came from the family camping trips during the following years – packing up with some close friends and heading to the Great Ocean Road with kids in tow. Each day was packed with activities ranging from tight rope walking to trail riding and nighttime bonfires. Relishing every moment of the opportunity to relax, disengage and have fun, Daly realised they were missing two ingredients – music and art, twin passions that also formed the corner stones of the Falls Festival.

‘That’s the world I just came from and I wasn’t ready to close the door on that just yet, it’s still something I very much wanted to have in my life. I thought how great would it be to have a big event with families and music and art, with plenty of things to do’

With two decades in the festival programming industry behind him, Daly had no shortage of friends and colleagues to bounce ideas off. One conversation led to another and before long ideas had started to evolve, but it was a chat with long-time friend and collaborator Richard Moffatt that sent Daly and his family packing to the United Kingdom. The destination was Camp Bestival – a sophisticated but children-friendly festival filled with art, music and engaging activities for every member of the family, with the whole event anchored by the fairytale-like Lulworth Castle.

‘…That’s the world I just came from and I wasn’t ready to close the door on that just yet, it’s still something I very much wanted to have in my life.’ – Simon Daly

Simon Daly and his daughter, Lyla.

‘Richie suggested we go to Camp Bestival so I took the three kids, well two because my wife was actually pregnant with our third at the time. There was about 15,000 kids at Bestival, and they were all completely engaged and more mature than you might expect. It completely validated for me that the experience would work well in Australia.’

Now back home, Daly and his collaborator David Strong, the Peninsula Picnic Creative Director and former St Kilda Festival Director, are gearing up to launch a more family-focused music festival in late October. Spread out over 29 and 30 October, the Lost Lands features an impressive line-up of local and international acts such as Missy Higgins, The Waifs and Mariachi El Bronx, as well as plenty of arts, cultural activities, comedy, and dedicated kids entertainment.

The challenge for the pair was balancing a program that would appeal to adults and kids respectively. The music program, he says, is all about the adults and the musical line-up was quick to embrace the festival with gusto. The pair then engaged Ian Pidd, one of Australia’s best art programmers, who has previously contributed to Dark Mofo, The Village and Moomba. Pidd was charged with putting together a program that is kids focused but still engaging for adults too.

Daly is quick to mention Spanish artist Emiliano Matesnaz, who is due to bring his collection of unique sculptures to Australia as part of the new program – with the Lost Lands festival doubling as his debut exhibition in Australia. The Spaniard recycles drums, car parts and scrap metal to create sculptures that also function as interactive games for children, an idea that captivated Daly.

One of the crowning glories of Camp Bestival was its central castle and, while Australia is (sadly) lacking in the ancient castles, Daly says they’ve found an equal replacement in the Werribee Mansion.

‘It’s such an amazing venue – it’s so close to the city and you can hear the lions roar and see giraffes. That’s so special unique and really just what we were looking for.’

The Lost Lands Festival runs 29-30 October 2016, with tickets available now from Oztix. Adults tickets begin from $99 + BF for a single day and children from $38 + BF for a single day. For the full musical line-up and more information, visit www.thelostlands.com.au.

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