Muddy boots and melodies: The Winter Wine Festival 2024

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Muddy boots and melodies: The Winter Wine Festival 2024

The Rubens
Words by Sarah Gross

The Winter Wine Festival delivered on its promise of an unforgettable blend of sensational music and exquisite wines against the stunning backdrop of Gerringong at the picturesque Crooked River Winery, less than two hours south of Sydney.

Over the long weekend of June, this year’s festival treated attendees to two days of non-stop entertainment featuring a remarkable lineup of artists.

Despite heavy downpours in the days leading up to the event, the skies cleared just in time, leaving behind a vibrant atmosphere filled with high spirits, muddy boots, and the lingering charm of recent rains. Once again, the family-owned Crooked River Estate served as the perfect host for a festival celebrating local talent and international flair amidst breathtaking views where the mountains meet the sea. Whales were even spotted earlier in the day, adding a touch of nature’s spectacle to the already magical setting.

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

With its small population of 4,000, Gerringong came alive with personality and seaside charm as the festival transformed this quaint town into a lively hub of music uniting people from all walks of life. Locals and visitors alike danced in the mud and revelled in the shared musical experience.


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Sunday spectacular showcase

The festival started with an impressive line-up featuring The Rubens, Pacific Avenue, Jack River, Daisy Pring, Darling Street, and James Burton. Each performance added a unique flavour to the event, creating a diverse and dynamic musical journey that was something for everyone.

A few of the highlights:

Jack River, the stage name of musician Holly Rankin, captivated the crowd with her vibrant vocal range and striking yellow-coordinated outfit. Originally from the mid-north coast of NSW and now based in Sydney, Jack River has established herself as a multi-talented singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer. She called out to the crowd, inquiring if there were any Lucys present. One brave soul raised her hand and erupted in joy as she was treated to a special rendition of ‘Lucy Sea Queen’. Though statistically speaking, there was probably more than just one Lucy in the audience. Surely?!

Next up, Pacific Avenue, a local alternative rock band from the Gerringong region, delivered a blend of covers and original hits, with ‘Strawberry Daydream’ a hit amongst the locals. The bright, peppy guitar instrumentals perfectly matched the coastal festival vibe, making their set a standout for many attendees.

From Geelong to Gerringong.

I embarked on an epic road trip with my pug and my wife, covering 9 hours and 34 minutes (882.3 km) to attend the Winter Wine Festival. My primary goal was to see The Rubens live. Despite the long journey, the anticipation of seeing one of my favourite bands perform made every KM worth it.

When The Rubens took the stage, they immediately demonstrated why they received such glowing live reviews wherever they travel. Their performance was nothing short of spectacular. Each song was delivered with precision, and their interaction with the audience was electric. Lead singer Sam Margin’s magnetic stage presence and infectious energy transformed the crowd into a unified chorus, singing along and waving their hands in perfect sync.

The Rubens’ setlist included fan favourites like ‘Live in Life’, ‘My Gun’ and ‘Heavy Weather’, which elevated the energy and spirits of the audience. The band’s ability to deliver vocals that sounded even better live than on their records made the performance unforgettable. Sam’s heartfelt banter with the crowd underscored the importance of supporting live music, especially in challenging times for the industry. His words resonated deeply: “If you love a band, buy tickets to these festivals. The industry has been struggling, and people like you have allowed us to do what we love for the last 12 years. Thank you.”

They concluded their set with the crowd favourite ‘Hoops’, a pulsating anthem that brought the entire audience to their feet, dancing and singing along with infectious energy until the last note echoed through the venue. Fans cheered, celebrating the culmination of an unforgettable evening filled with music, camaraderie, and shared muddy memories.

The muddy memories will stay with me, reminding me of the profound impact that music can have on our lives and why taking a little road trip—especially a 9-hour coastal drive—is truly food for the soul.

Further details about the spectacular Winter Wine Festival 2024 and all of their upcoming showcases can be found here.