Seven reasons the Dungog Festival is one of Australia’s finest regional events

Spanning four days from the 27th to the 30th of October, the annual Dungog Festival returns to regional NSW later this month for an incredible mix of food, film, music and a dose of bush poetry. To give you an idea of what you’re in store for with this fantastic event, here are seven reasons the festival is one of the country’s finest regional events:

Be a part of Australia’s best “Long Table Dinner”

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The most popular event at the festival is without question the opening night Long Table Dinner, which sees just about everyone who lives in Dungog and the surrounding towns come together for a beautiful meal on a never-ending table that runs down the main street of town. Sadly they were struck with bad weather last year and had to move the table into the local school, but the atmosphere was truly electric and the music was fantastic. But most importantly, the food – using local produce – was divine. If it’s not already sold out, head HERE for all the details.

A chance to learn something new…

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Want to learn to make sausages? How to watercolour or brew beer? How about trying your hand at bush poetry? These are just some of the workshops that the festival will be offering in 2016. Last year I learnt how to bake bread at the Fosterton Farm Bakery, which had to be situated on one of the most beautiful properties I’ve ever seen.

Opportunities for any budget

The festival is full of events that will fit every budget: from free live music and film events, to  the long table dinner, which will set you back about $115. And everything in between. There’s also some packages available if you want to fit in a bit of everything.

A diverse range of music

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Steve Smyth performs a free show in Jubilee Park in 2015
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Swamp Dawkins performs a free show in Jubilee Park in 2015

No festival would be complete without some music, and the Dungog Festival offers a diverse mix across its four days, in a mix of free and paid events. This year, the likes of Pseudo Echo, Yeshe, Kylie Jane, The Enormous Horns and A Touch of Blue are among the artist set to play this year. Have a look at the whole music itinerary HERE.

A surprising and fascinating film program

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As the oldest purpose-built cinema still operating in Australia (we’re going back to 1912 here), The James Theatre in Dungog is worth the trip to the city alone. They utilise the venue for a number of screenings throughout the festival, with a mix of features and short films turning the event into one of the most wonderful film festivals in the country. Last year I enjoyed a special midnight screening of the New Zealand film Deathgasm, which was a wholly enjoyable experience, among a variety of other screenings and events. They also have a short film competition, a documentary program and a run of Q&As with special guests. You can read more about what’s in store for the 2016 event over on our sister site The Iris.

An intimate Glamping experience

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And then there’s the accommodation. In addition to hotels, motels and RV/Caravan parks, the festival sets up special glamping accommodation for those who want to enjoy Dungog’s beautiful land, while not worrying about having to BYO tent and mattress. You can learn more about the glamping experience and book yourself a tent HERE.

And best of all? It’s still one of Australia’s best kept secrets

Though plenty travel from interstate, it’s clear that most of the people who frequent this festival are locals from Dungog and the surrounding towns. At the long table dinner, it felt like everyone knew everyone; I was certainly the fish out of water. And only a few hours out of Sydney! So make sure to jump on the bandwagon and check out the event before it gets overcrowded by visitors from the rest of the country…

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The 2016 Dungog Festival runs from October 27th to 30th. Dungog is a two and a half to three hour drive from Sydney, or an hour from Newcastle. You can also get their by train. Head to the NSW Trainlink website for timetables.

For tickets and more details about the event, head to their official website.

The writer attended as a guest of the festival at the 2015 event.