Event Review: Gorgeous Festival 2012

Reviewed Saturday 24th November 2012

If you’ve outgrown the large dust-bowl music festivals with poor facilities and sound, Gorgeous Festival is worth a re-think and looks set to be one of South Australia's premier music events for 2013.

Nestled in the lush rolling hills and vineyards of McLaren Vale, the idyllic location of Gorgeous Festival, puts it right at the center of some of South Australia's best food and wine. In its second year, the aptly named boutique music, food and wine festival didn't disappoint, with Missy Higgins headlining the all Australian music line-up. Boasting three stages, a crèche and entertainment for the littlies, live art and sculpture from the region, and cook-offs between world renowned chefs meant that the relaxed atmosphere of Gorgeous Festival, offered something for everyone.

With many years experience in the music industry Gorgeous Festival organisers Alistair and Sally Cranney and crew, say that Gorgeous Festival is a celebration of Australian Music, wine and produce from across the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Just back from Nashville, Missy Higgins was on fire at Gorgeous Festival belting out old favourites and new songs from her album, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle with Adelaide born-and-bred friend, co-writer and album producer, Butterfly Boucher. Missy's first studio album in five years, The Ol' Razzle Dazzle traces her journey back to music after a crisis of confidence and writers block that had her walk away from music in 2007.

Gorgeous Festival goers and Missy fans were treated to songs from all three albums and her seven-piece band, which Missy described as having a 'really big sound' coming from her on piano, two strings, keyboards, bass guitar and drums – and the sound was big!! – AMAZING! – Her voice, the songs, the stage, the venue and the sound engineering, all combined to deliver an incredibly crisp and full sound that carried, uninterrupted across McLaren Vale.

Playing crowd-pleasers like Scar and The Special Two, Missy mixed it up with songs from the new album, inviting the audience to join in the fun, making animal noises in the song Watering Hole that she says is "about feeling as though your mind is being taken over by wild animals"

As a long-time fan of Missy Higgins, I was lucky enough to spend some time with the down-to-earth star in an interview, where I asked her about her writers block, the new album and the shoot for her ARIA award winning video, Everyone’s Waiting.


Gracing the main stage from 4pm was the talented story-teller Johnny McIntyre with his Folk/County/Blues style, Hayden Calnin, Butterfly Boucher, The Preatures with their unique gothic, soul and rock magnetism, Gossling, who has been descibed as that distinctively sweet voice, combined with graceful melodies.

Many fans had turned up to catch Dan Sultan's sweet roughness alongside headlining act Missy Higgins. With so many brilliant Australian artists in the line-up, it's no wonder the crowd went home satisfied!

The APRA Petit stages was the standout idea for Gorgeous Festival, giving local artists an opportunity to play alongside the bigger names and entertain the audience between gigs with something new.

Nancy Bates rocked it with renditions ranging genre's from country, to rock, blues and jazz, while sister-act, Echo and the Empress impressed the crowd with their soulful harmonies. Ginger and the Ghost cast their imagination into song, while the 16 year-old Jesse Davidson wowed the audience with his likeness to Jeff Buckley and Angus Stone. Also on the APRA Petit stages were Carla Lippis and The Martial Hearts, Ange Panousakis and Daniel Cameron.

Foodies were delighted by Master Classes with world renowned, Adelaide born-and-bred Chef Bradd Johns and Cook-offs between Chef Nigel Rich from Elbow Room vs Chef Bradd Johns from Red Salt Restaurant and Bar. Local restaurateurs worked together to produce the festival menu, which included such delicacies as Lobster Medallion with Blue Swimmer Crab and Prawn Ravioli in a Lobster Bisque – thanks to d'Arrys Verandah Restaurant.

While the food was clearly gourmet, 5-star and a fabulous representation of fine food from the region, it was perhaps a little pricey across the board. The two tents that had the longest line-ups all day, also offered the least expensive food. Starting at $15, FINO offered the popular Chorizo Sausage, Pickled Onion and Romesco Panini (delicious and very filling) and Ampika's Kitchen were also busy, serving up various yummy Thai offerings at $15.

From there, things got a tad more expensive at $25-$40, with offerings like Goat Shoulder Curry from The Elbow Room, nice I'm sure, but without the broad appeal as The Current Shed's Cone of Hand-cut Chips with Chipolte Mayonnaise.

Sadly, I didn't have an opportunity to try any of the nine wines on offer that reflected the different varieties in the region – but an awful lot of people did and by all accounts they were certainly enjoying it!

A Small Art Factory and Manning Sculptures provided the perfect back-drop with gorgeous sculptural creations that were colourfully lit as the sun went down. The sculptures provided interest and prettiness that really added to the overall atmosphere of creativity, while showcasing some of the artistic talent in the area.

The Peoples Choice Art Prize, also gave festival-goers the opportunity to watch art-in-action, with 10 hand picked local artists racing against the clock to create live art on the day of the festival. Each artist went into the draw to win $1000, which was announced on stage before Missy Higgins.

I don't think I've ever seen a more relaxed and happy crowd – Commonwealth Bank's contributions certainly helped, with hundreds of (branded) blow-up li-los providing festival-wide back-rests for punters to chill-out with their vino and food, while soaking up the atmosphere and tunes.


Surrounded by fresh air and nature on a gorgeous sunny day, the gently sloping green grass dotted with large umbrellas and sculptures, provided lots of shade and room to spread out a blanket and relax for some great family fun.

By far the best way to do Gorgeous fest, is to hop on one of the buses from town, not only do you get to meet a whole bunch of like-minded new people, you get to ride in air-conditioned comfort, sit back, relax and enjoy the wine!

Luxury coaches left around lunchtime from North Adelaide and the City, dropping happy revellers back just after midnight on Sunday. For peace-of-mind and all-round festival enjoyment, the $25 return trip is certainly worthwhile considering for 2013 – either that, or book your accommodation early – even the caravan park was packed this year!


Next Year? Festival organizers say "You better get you asses here next year … 'cos you missed a really, really good night" – Right on!

Guest Journalist: Anna Scott
Photography: Jason Vandepeer

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