Australian Economy

Wanderer Festival launches on NSW far south coast to boost economy, employment

A unique festival experience which endeavours to unite music and art lovers from a broad demographic has been launched on the NSW far south coast.

Wanderer Festival’s founder Simon Daly has described it as a mix between the popular Woodford Festival in Queensland and Falls Festival, which takes place across a number of states.

The three-day event will be held at Bournda and features a huge music line-up, including acts such as Ziggy Alberts, the Teskey Brothers and Sarah Blasko.

Mr Daly said he aimed to attract a mixed demographic of people to the festival.

“It’s for someone who loves going to festivals all over the country and youth events,” he said.

“[Or] somebody who loves a Woodford or Womad [festival].

A man in a blue jacket smiling at the camera
Simon Daly wants to attract a mix of people to the festival.(ABC South East: Keira Proust)

The event will showcase three main stages for a range of performances, including music, arts, circus, workshops and comedy.

There will be a stage for younger festival-goers, another for families and one for a mix of both.

Event by Falls Festival founder

Mr Daly has already had a long career in the festival industry.

He founded the Falls Festival in 1994 and launched the Lost Lands Festival in Victoria a couple of years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

He ran the Falls Festival for 20 years and said he hoped to provide a similar legacy with Wanderer.

He said he hoped to attract 9,000 people to the first one and then expand to 14,000 people for future events.

An aerial shot of a festival
Mr Daly also founded and ran the Lost Lands festival in Victoria.(Supplied: Ben Vella)

But running a festival on this scale is no small feat. 

“There’s a reason why something like this at this scale hasn’t occurred in the south east before,” he said.

“We’re absolutely in the middle of everywhere but in the middle of nowhere.”

The festival has garnered financial support from the NSW Government, which will provide funding through its State Significant Event fund.

Two 20 year old girls with blonde hair smiling in the sun
Far south coast residents Sinead McLaren and Lili Postance are keen for the new festival.(ABC South East: Keira Proust)

Local youth excited

Having access to live music might be a given for most young people living in metropolitan Australia.

But far south coast residents Lili Postance, 22, and Sinead McLaren, 23, said it could be quite difficult to find.

“It’s always been a little bit tricky,” Ms McLaren said.

Now, they’ll have a chance to see some big acts in their own backyard.

“It makes me proud to be honest to have so many people in the area and show off our local talent,” Ms McLaren said.

“It looks really promising and I think it will cater to a lot of generations.”

Ms Postance said she hoped the festival would encourage more young people to stay in the area.

“So, it’s going to be cool to have that in our backyard now.”

A paddock with trees in the background
The festival will be held on private property in Bournda on the NSW far south coast.(Supplied: Simon Daly)

A boost for local economy

The southern part of the NSW coastline was hit hard during the 2019-2020 bushfires and also felt a huge financial impact when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Wanderer Festival operations manager Peta Lehoczky said she was among many local people being employed to put on the event.

She said the festival was an important part of the region’s recovery.

“After the fires and the pandemic it’s paramount to the growth of our region and to bring tourism back here,” she said.

“We want to be able to support the local businesses and give everyone opportunities.”

A woman in an orange silk blouse smiling
Peta Lehoczky has picked up a job working on the Wanderer Festival.(ABC South East: Keira Proust)

Festival organisers also plan to run shuttle buses during the event to give patrons access to and from the surrounding towns.

Ms Lehoczky said she hoped the event would help provide a needed economic boost.

“If we boost the tourism then the cafes will start boosting again and we can get more people employed there,” she said.

“And then there are the opportunities with the festival itself, which is just great.”

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