WILDfest // The Highlands' Very Own Wilderness Festival
Listen up adventure seekers and wilderness warriors because we are about to give you the low-down on the biggest celebration of the great-outdoors to hit the Southern Highlands this year. Yep, we’re calling it! WILDfest 2018 is going to blow your little-cotton-socks clean off and this guide, this little baby right here, is your go-to for all things WILD and fest-y. That didn’t come out quite right…
From canapes to canoes, cooking classes to costume parties, campfires to stuff-that-doesn’t-begin-with-a-‘c’, WILDfest’s massive programme of events has something for EVERYONE – including the young’uns! It’s time to surgically remove the phone from your face, breathe deep and reconnect with the ultimate adventure playground at your own doorstep. So, kick back, take five and let us fill you in on WILDfest 2018.
Oh, just quickly! Keep in mind that every WILDfest event or activity can be booked individually – you don’t have to glamp it up to enjoy Wild Native Feast, nor any of the Nature Connect or Food Journey activities.
WILDfest Wilderness Retreats (Friday 5th- Sunday 7th October):
This October, treat yourself to a pop-up, luxury ‘glamping’ retreat - with a strong emphasis on YOU! Surrounded by bushland on a large, private-property alongside the picturesque Wingecarribee River. Disconnect completely from the outside world while wanting for absolutely nothing – does camping get any better?!
There are several retreat packages to choose from, to suit all tastes and budgets. For all of your options, head to the WILDfest website. Here’s what you can expect from the bees-knees of WILDfest experiences, the Premium Wilderness Retreat Package:
- 3 days/2 nights of onsite glamping with full concierge service and an incredible, culinary journey of gourmet meals prepared by Damien Monley (of Grand Bistro, Bowral).
- Tickets to Wild Native Feast, WILDfest’s signature foodie event.
- The ability to pick and choose from all of the Nature Connect and Food Journey Activities on offer, inclusive.
- A real bed and all the creature comforts you’d expect from a luxury resort, including top quality linens.
- A snack-stocked lounge tent and regularly serviced amenities with hot showers.
Quite frankly, WILDfest Wilderness Retreat, you had us at ‘concierge’.
This one couldn’t be any easier. On Saturday 6th October, find yourself in foodie paradise, in a remote bushland setting, beneath a canopy of stars. Dine on a 7-course degustation menu compiled of sensational, seasonal offerings from Grand Bistro chef, Damien Monley and matching, local award-winning wines. Relax or kick-up your heels to live, acoustic music and enjoy an atmosphere of merriment and mystery with the night’s ‘Masquerade’ theme. If you’re looking for that cherry-on-top, here it is… Ticket price includes transport to and from key locations in Bowral, Berrima and Moss Vale and masquerade masks are provided! See? Too easy!
Canoes, Champagne and Canapés (Friday 5th, Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th October)
Wine and dine your way around the waterways of the Southern Highlands on your virtually unsinkable canoe, led by talented instructor and course-designer, Travis Frenay from Paddle & Portage Canoes. You don’t have to be experienced to enjoy this amazing adventure, just ready and willing to enjoy a day on the calm waters of Kangaroo River, to the backdrop of Morton National Park. Throw champagne and canapes into the mix and you’ve got yourself the very definition of what WILDfest 2018 is all about!
Wild Spirit Challenge (Tuesday 2nd – Thursday 4th October)
For the slightly more adventurous or experienced canoer, Travis Frenay from Paddle & Portage Canoes has designed the ultimate 3-day/2-night voyage. Explore water-only accessible sites such as private beaches, caverns and the sunken gumtree forest. Sleep serenely within practically secret, national park locations and enjoy the abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery. Wild Spirit Challenge is not for the faint of heart. There’s no concierge along on this adventure! You’ll be setting up camp (tents provided) and learning from some of the best adventure guides in the business. All canoes, camping equipment and food provided. Are you up for the challenge?
Next up we have activities that fall under one of two categories - Nature or Food. As in life, we have decided to start with the food!
WILDfest Campfire Cooking Classes (Monday 1st, Tuesday 2nd & Wednesday 3rd October)
Take your sausage sizzling skills to the next level at this cooking class with a difference! Learn about wood types and coal cooking while trying your hand at campfire recipes and using the best of fire-pit cooking utensils. Get hands-on and create a feast to share and remember. Guest chefs, Steve Hogwood and the team from Phatt Duck Catering will guide and inspire you. Prepare for fun and fabulous views. Classes are limited to 12, so don’t delay with this one. All food and beverages included.
The Simple Art of Food (Sunday 30th September and Saturday 6th October)
Join 1-of-4 innovative vegan food-art workshops with Ami from The Sunkissed Kitchen. Be inspired to create food which is visually appealing, incredibly wholesome and totally delicious. During these sessions, you will create breakfast bowls, salads and dinner using the freshest organic, vegan ingredients from Moonacres Farm in Robertson. Some dishes will incorporate native Australian foods such as finger limes, lillie pillies and quandong plums. How cool is that?! Ami will also share some of her food-photography tips, which we think you would agree is reason in itself to go along. Amazing. We can’t stop staring!
Forest Bathing (Tuesday 2nd and Saturday 6th October)
You can breathe a sigh of relief because Forest Bathing does not involve skinny-dipping alongside your child’s year-two teacher. So, that’s a relief. No offensive, Mrs. Baguley! What would you call a congregation of skinny-dippers, anyway? A gaggle? A flock? A herd? We’re gonna go with a ‘mess’. Anyways, Forest Bathing is actually a form of therapy! (which we think we’d need after a mass encounter of the naked kind). Forest, or Nature Therapy aims to create a state of peacefulness and relaxation through the immersion of one’s senses in an environment packed full of fresh, country air and free of life’s distractions. WILDfest’s Forest Bathing sessions are being led by New South Wales’ first qualified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, Chrissie Little. Chrissie will guide you through a range of sensory awareness activities, in beautiful surrounds, allowing you to practice the ancient art of mindfulness and meditation. Just a bit classier than dolphin-diving in the buff…
Tales from the Wild (Adults Thursday 4th October and Kids Saturday 6th October)
Here’s where the kids come in! Tales from the Wild is an old-fashioned, gather-round-the-campfire storytelling affair, with a sprinkling of modern-day twists. A simple celebration of the spoken word and chance to return to a simpler time when our attention was not so relentlessly divided by digital technology, an issue for kids as much as adults! ‘Tales’ will take place on two separate dates, an evening session for adults and a lunchtime sesh for kids. At both events, three local storytellers will entertain audiences relying on nothing but vocal expression and raw emotion to deliver their tale. We are so excited that the kids stories will be tales inspired by May Gibbs; itnstant flashback to growing up with these stories as a kid! These unique and inspiring events will be held in the gardens of The Manor House in Sutton Forest. There will be cushions available or BYO seating arrangements. A short and sweet 90-minutes, with a glass of wine (or juice for the kids!) that’s sure to enliven the imagination. Oh, be still our beating hearts!
Wild Creativity (Sunday 7th October)
Join celebrated, nature-based artist, Catriona Pollard in a one-day workshop that will encourage you to explore your creativity through the ageless art of basketry and weaving. Using a variety of organic materials gathered from the forest, under the guidance of Catriona’s well-trained eye, you will create your own perfectly unique piece of Australian Bush Art. A wonderful opportunity to step outside the day-to-day and allow your artistic-self the space and time to reenergise and shine. Wild Creativity takes place at the site of WILDfest Wilderness Retreat and provides an opportunity to check out the WILDfest “glamp site”. Numbers for this workshop are limited. All materials and lunch provided.
There are two, equally stunning full-day Wilderness Walks to choose from depending on your level of hiking experience. The Rainforest Hike (Saturday 29th September) takes on Budderoo National Park, Morton National Park and Gerringong Falls and has been designed for medium to advanced hikers. While Waterfalls Wanderings (Monday 1st October) is a hike suited to those who fall into the beginner to medium level hiker and covers Belmore Falls, Horseshoe Bend and Mushroom Falls. In both cases, many of the tracks that lead to the best scenery are unmarked and require local, qualified guides to lead the way – and that is exactly what WILDfest delivers. Choose to have lunch provided or BYO. There will be opportunities for swimming at secluded water holes (weather permitting) so, like a good Scout, always be prepared!
Things you need to know!
- WILDfest is all about reconnecting with nature and therefore all events take place in the great-outdoors. There are very few indoor back-up plans, just a team of seasoned professionals with years of experience who have done their research and are prepared to adapt to any weather situation.
- All Adventure Guides have Remote First-Aid training. So, rest easy! You’re in great hands with the WILDfest team.
And, that about wraps it up! Look at all that good stuff coming your way. WILDfest 2018 is an incredible opportunity to experience and showcase the natural beauty of our Southern Highlands. The prospect of eliminating stress, disconnecting from gadgets and engaging in the soul-replenishing WILDfest programme has got us asking one question… can we throw away our phones yet?!
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