Apollo Bay’s multidisciplinary dark arts festival WinterWild returns for one weekend this August

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Apollo Bay’s multidisciplinary dark arts festival WinterWild returns for one weekend this August

AAA Dogwatch ceremony. Credit: Tyr Explorer
Credit: Tyr Explorer
Credit: Tyr Explorer
Credit: Tyr Explorer
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WinterWild, Victoria's answer to Dark Mofo, returns on the last weekend of August, showcasing the untamed beauty of Apollo Bay with music, art, food and fire.

The boundary-pushing dark arts, food and music festival WinterWild is returning to the Otways this August for three days of music, art, food and fire.

Far from your average festival, the annual event will be taking place on Gadubanud Country in Apollo Bay on the last weekend of winter, 25–27 August, featuring performances from satanic collective Dane Blacklock & the Preacher’s Daughter, the formidable Jen Cloher, Harvey Sutherland and rapper RidzyRay, as well as an exciting lineup of art, winter feasts, masterclasses and much more.

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Beyond the glitz of Lorne, the untamed, rugged landscape of the Southern Otways will provide a mysterious backdrop for ambitious music, food and arts programming destined to bring thousands of adventure-seeking audiences to the far reaches of the Great Ocean Road to embrace the dark beauty of winter.

The festival will kick off on Friday 25 August, opening with a Welcome to Country from Eastern Marr Aboriginal Corporation, followed by free performances from Wemba-Wemba rapper RidzyRay and other contemporary First Nations artists.

The music continues at the Apollo Bay Mechanics Institute Hall with Ngāpuhi & Ngāti Kahu songwriter and performer Jen Cloher, whose taut, terse brand of rock is charged with the static tension that comes with being an eternal misfit. Jen will be supported by disco-infused space-pop project Zoë Fox and the Rocket Clocks, Apollo Bay’s beloved singer songwriter Sid O’Neil, and the soulful vocals of local indie-jazz five-piece band Outtatime.

The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse will stage a night of free music with ‘80s legends Inked Factor, re-formed and travelling down the coast to play their distinctive blend of post-punk and prog-surf rock.


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Continuing through to Saturday 26 August, the Wild Feast at the Apollo Bay Foreshore is always a favourite for rugging up and sharing a meal around roaring fire pits alongside the ocean. There’ll be pans of paella laden with vegetables, low-and-slow smoked meats, fresh pasta, famous local seafood and more. Warm your hands with a mulled wine, and choose from a range of local craft beers from Otway brewers Prickly Moses and cocktails from the Apollo Bay Gin Distillery. Leslie D. King and the Trembling Shakes will bring some soul-soaked rock’n’roll, joined by some very special guests.

Stay after sunset to witness the festival’s signature outdoor performance, The DogWatch.

You’ll also be able to fuel up at the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse with a Low and Slow BBQ Masterclass, focusing on BBQ cooking methods, fire and temperature management, trimming of meats and immersive cooking demonstrations; while Mark Kluwer, trained under Wim Hof, will lead ice bathing and breath workshops to help light a fire within, and local practitioner Dani Cullen will run her famously healing qigong classes in the fresh ocean air.

As for Saturday’s music, Dane Blacklock & the Preacher’s Daughter headline the evening at the Apollo Bay Mechanics Institute Hall. In this decidedly wicked aural and visual extravaganza, audiences will surrender to the desires of the flesh with Australia’s premiere satanic gospel experience. They will be supported by s p o r e s  who will perform a blend of lazy disco, spectres of doom, and noise punk. Dive down the rabbit hole of dirty and hypnotic heavy riffs covered in fuzz, dreamy licks, dirty bass and driving drumbeats from Otways psychedelic trio MELT.

Say a bittersweet farewell to winter at MoonGarden at the Apollo Bay Sailing Club where you can dance under a blanket of stars by a raging ocean, with some of Australia’s best alternative electronic artists. Headlined by Harvey Sutherland (DJ Set), with Milo Eastwood and Post Percy, this will be a must.


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A post shared by WinterWild Apollo Bay (@winterwildab)

Rounding out the weekend, Sunday 27 August will see the Dawn Chorus: The Midnight Horrors take place, a surreal tour of the birds of Apollo Bay (living, dead, mythological, and extinct); at dawn. Begin the day with The Midnight Horrors, as they lead an arcane and entirely un-educational bird walk through the town.

Meet the Maker Masterclasses with Hello Coffee and Apollo Bay Distillery will provide a glimpse behind the scenes of Apollo Bay’s finest producers. Guests can smell and sip their way through a range of delicious drinks.

Acclaimed concert pianist Estelle Shircore Barker – who grew up in Apollo Bay and will soon relocate to Europe to begin studies under Nikolai Demidenko – will top off the weekend, performing on the grand piano in an intimate house setting.

With previous incarnations described as ‘dark, wild and a little bit dirty’, WinterWild is Victoria’s answer to Dark Mofo, and it’s well worth travelling down the Great Ocean Road for.

WinterWild will take place from August 25–27 across Apollo Bay. To see the full program, head here