‘It’s one of the biggest festival sites in the world’: Beyond The Valley is more than just a festival

Subscribe to Forte Magazine


‘It’s one of the biggest festival sites in the world’: Beyond The Valley is more than just a festival

Credit: Chloe Hall
Words by Jacob McCormack and Talia Rinaldo

It’s unique and it’s all about the experience at Beyond The Valley 2023.

Spring has sprung, the flowers are in full bloom and hay fever has once again assumed its stranglehold on the unlucky and susceptible. The changing of the seasons remains bright and vivid though and marks an emergence out of the dormancy of winter.

And yet as we leave the cold, dreary bleakness in the wake of surplus vitamin D we edge closer to summer. To the sand in between toes, salty lips, ice-cold beer and of course, festival season, and it wouldn’t be a true festival season without Beyond the Valley

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

Beyond The Valley, the renowned four-day festival incites the quintessence of this summer narrative like no other. The festival will once again be running its renowned and reliable four-day party from December 28 to January 1 and this year it is going to be larger than ever, inviting festival-goers to immerse themselves in a world of music, art, and entertainment, all set against the stunning backdrop of Barunah Plains in regional Victoria.

Returning to Barunah Plains in the Geelong region for the second year, Beyond The Valley seems to have found a truly special home. Christian Serrao, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Untitled Group, shares the serendipitous discovery of this picturesque location: “We’re thrilled about our new home in Barunah Plains. It’s actually a wedding venue, and one of our staff members stumbled upon it on Google Maps funnily enough!”

What makes this location so unique is the natural amphitheatre it offers, perfectly positioning the main stage for optimal music viewing. 

It’s a massive space, it’s one of the biggest festival sites in the world. This allows ample room for camping, ensuring that our patrons have a comfortable and spacious experience, the camping sites are all flat too so no one is slipping down their mattresses in the night.

“Another interesting behind-the-scenes detail is that the artist dressing rooms are located in a beautiful old mansion where wedding guests usually stay. It even has a pool and a tennis court, adding a touch of luxury for our artists.” 

With the ambition of catering for 35,000 attendees, Barunah Plains has allowed the festival to adapt to be impactful beyond measure, catering to the changing preferences and needs of festival-goers in the current climate. “We’ve really been thinking about our local community around Geelong and the Surf Coast,” Serrao noted. “It’s just a quick 40-minute drive from the BTV site, so it makes sense to make it super accessible for them and have the ability to drive in and out each day; not everyone wants to camp.”

The representation of a regional life that this property exemplifies remains important, and yet for the pop-up party that is Beyond The Valley it will receive a makeover that one has to experience to believe. It’ll be a country getaway slathered with the rich originality of a heaving summer party.

This year will see the site revamped with the installation of a Ferris wheel and an inflatable wedding chapel, where betrothment is indeed permissible, and in fact, celebrated. There will also be roving drag performances by Poof Doof Pride Patrol which will keep attendees on their toes at all times, something like an immersion that means the festival is always happening all around you.

The Inspired Unemployed boys rose to fame through their satirical and silly videos but at Beyond The Valley, they’ll be bringing their beach club supported by their own beer label Better Beer. And despite Barunah Plains remaining landlocked, this will be a proper beach club featuring multiple pools, real sand, a lifeguard and a bar.  

It might be labelled as a festival, but this year Beyond The Valley is raising the stakes; 2023 is more than just about the music, rather it is going to be a unique haven that will etch itself into the narratives of all those who attend.

And yet despite the extravagant décor, design and installations, wellness remains a priority. The Sanctuary will be back offering yoga and other activities designed to support longevity because we all need some restoration during a four-day festival. 

In combination with the plethora of offerings that 2023 will bring for Beyond the Valley the alluring musical lineup remains a massive feature year in and year out, and this year’s iteration will be no exception. 

Making up the musical talent on display are headliners and globally acclaimed Australian heartthrobs RÜFÜS DU SOL, British superstar rapper Central Cee, and electronic music icon Peggy Gou. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to secure your tickets, then as you scroll further down the lineup and see the likes of Destroy Lonely, G Flip, Channel Tres, Jayda G, Romy and the DMA’s, the magnetising talent of these artists make Beyond The Valley 2023 a must. 

All the musicians will be adorning a series of meticulously designed stages situated in the exhilarating and huge natural amphitheatre that is Barunah Plains. It’ll be three stages to be precise and they’re three acclaimed stages at that. 

The Valley Stage features a custom design and world-class production, The Dance Dome sports a monolithic 70-metre-wide LED wall sure to hypnotise all and the much-loved Dr Dan’s has been refurbished but don’t be wrongfooted because it has retained its charm.

FERG, Flight Facilities and more join Beyond The Valley 2023 lineup

A novel addition to the festival this year is the Podcast Stage, offering festival-goers a safe and entertaining space to take a break from the music and crowds. 

“The Podcast Stage came about with the vision to widen the offerings at Beyond The Valley,” Serrao explains. “With diverse, educational and fun guest podcasters who not only are relevant to the BTV fans, the stage also delivers a diverse and unique angle on entertainment for our attendees while residing at the festival. Punters can drop into the stage and see some of their favourite personalities and educational speakers bring their podcast shows to life.” 

From Mason Cox, a Collingwood 2023 Premiership winner, Caroline Kell and Tiktok funny guys Jamo & Dylan, to reality TV royalty Scheana Shay of Vanderpump Rules with her famous podcast ‘Scheananigans With Scheana Shay’ and more, attendees can look forward to engaging with a variety of personalities and educational speakers, enriching their festival experience.

Of course, the inconspicuous and highly mysterious ‘Schmall Klub’ – a hidden party you have to search for in order to arrive at, will also be back in 2023, but don’t expect it to be easy to find. 

Among the multitude of events vying for our attention, Beyond The Valley stands out as a beacon of uniqueness and innovation in the vibrant landscape of music festivals, partly credited to its focus on creating a widely accessible event. To make things more flexible, Beyond The Valley has shaken up its ticketing structure for 2023, separating festival and camping tickets to accommodate varying requirements. From pre-pitched tents to VIP upgrades and general camping, there’s an option for everyone. “We are also mindful of the environment,” Serrao added. “Tons of tents get left behind, and it’s devastating to see them go to landfill. That’s why we’ve introduced pre-pitched tents. They’re more affordable than glamping, but they also reduce the need for people to buy low-quality tents.”

Beyond The Valley’s commitment to social impact further sets it apart. The festival has pledged to donate $1 from every ticket sold to small-scale charity Igniting Change (an organisation who have set out to improve the livelihoods of those it chooses to support) and is taking several steps towards sustainability and community engagement.

“We try to cover four pillars,” Serrao explained. “This includes selecting a charity partner that we as a company personally align with. The Igniting Change team has come to our office and met the whole team; it’s a really special collaboration.”

The festival also places a strong emphasis on environmental responsibility, dedicating itself to carbon offsetting to minimise its carbon footprint. 

“Supporting and giving back to the local community is another core principle for us,” Serrao adds. “To fulfil this commitment, we have pledged to donate $50,000 to various local groups, such as local sporting clubs and the CFA.”

Moreover, Beyond The Valley prioritises acknowledging and respecting the Traditional Owners of the land, with a Welcome to Country ceremony, allocation of complimentary tickets to First Nations people, and collaborations with local Indigenous artists to showcase their artworks at the festival. 

“By weaving these elements into our festival experience, we aim to create an inclusive and enriching environment that goes beyond just entertainment and allows us to have a stronger connection to our community.”

Beyond The Valley has come a long way from its inception in 2014 when it took over the old Pyramid Rock site, but since then the masterminds behind the festival, Untitled Group, have been searching for ways to establish the most unique festival offered in Australia.

It’s more than just a festival; it’s an experience that combines music, sustainability, community engagement, and entertainment, all in one stunning location. As Serrao reflects, “Beyond The Valley is our firstborn – it holds a special place in our hearts, it’s how it all started. Beyond The Valley started before Untitled Group was even conceptualised. We call it our ‘flagship’ festival and it is a huge priority for us.”

From modelling its blueprint off of festivals hosted overseas, to all the experience the collective has had running other big Australian festivals like Pitch Music and Arts, Wildlands, Grapevine Gathering, For The Love & Ability Fest, Beyond The Valley 2023 is set to be a truly memorable experience. 

Beyond The Valley 2023 could well be the festival of the year, if not the decade. 

Beyond The Valley 2023 takes place at Barunah Plains, Wentworths Road, Hesse, VIC. When: December 28 2023 – January 1 2024. Tickets to Beyond The Valley can be found here.

This article was made in partnership with Beyond The Valley.