Exhibition marks 50 years since first Sunbury music festival in Victoria

Deb Sweeney aged 16.

Deb Sweeney aged 16.

There are rare images of British band Queen, who performed in 1974, taken by photographer Peter Lane. And there’s the Sunbury 1973 triple live album – the first album released by Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Records.

There’s also a 1975 festival poster depicting a green-tinted nude woman holding a flower. It was found in a Gisborne house by new owners, who lent it to the exhibition.

Hume mayor Carly Moore said the exhibition “recognizes the historical importance of the festivals and their significant contribution to Australia’s music history and culture”.

Curator Carmen Reid said for attendees such as Ms Sweeney, the festivals were “part of their memory and a formative part of their lives”.

Ms Reid said the festivals were important in showcasing bands including Skyhooks, Chain, Daddy Cool, Spectrum and Madder Lake.

“It made that shift from Australia looking elsewhere for musical influence to bring it back to local acts – celebrating them, building them, being proud of them and exporting them overseas.”

An aerial view of the festival in 1975.

An aerial view of the festival in 1975.Credit:Age Archives

Ms Sweeney doubts you could replicate the festivals’ vibe today. Apart from the “awesome” music introducing her to new bands, there was a “togetherness” among the crowd.

“I met these thousands of new friends. There were the odd fights, but everyone generally got along well. They wanted to be there and enjoy the moment.

“Most of the members of my Facebook group say it was the best moment of our lives, and that we were privileged to experience it.”

People are welcome to write memories of the festivals on a wall at the exhibition.

A site map and signs salvaged from the Sunbury music festivals.

A site map and signs salvaged from the Sunbury music festivals.Credit:Chris Hopkins

Barefoot in the Grass: 50-Year Anniversary of the Sunbury Music Festival is free to attend at the Hume Global Learning Center in Sunbury until March 27.

On February 10, there will be a screening of the Sunbury ’72 documentary. On February 17, there will be a panel discussion featuring festival lighting director and author Peter Evans, plus roadies, musicians and fans, and performances by Mike Rudd of Spectrum and Brenden Mason of Madder Lake. Bookings are essential for these two events. Search Barefoot in the Grass at hume.vic.gov.au

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