On the weekend I attended the Adventure Travel Film Festival held in Bright, Victoria every February. This was the first time I’d attended the festival and honestly the main draw card for me was Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet, who was presenting early on Saturday morning.
Originally I was meant to go with a friend but unfortunately I ended up having to have a small medical procedure the morning we were meant to go. This meant a general anaesthetic and I wasn’t sure how I would recover. I didn’t want to book all the accommodation and then leave my friend high and dry with no one to go with so we decided not to go.
Towards the end of January, Craig and I were enjoying the last bottle of Rosé from our favourite winery, Ringer Reef, in Porepunkah. I was expressing my disappointment that I wouldn’t see Tony Wheeler’s presentation and how it was probably going to be the only chance I would ever have of hearing him, very dramatic but maybe it was our second bottle of wine either way my lovely husband said don’t worry I will take you, besides its Valentines Day weekend we can make a weekend of it.
So it was decided, we would head up to Bright after school finished on Friday and have the weekend at Bright. The kids were chuffed as they love tubing on the Ovens River and Craig was chuffed because his ulterior motivate was to visit Ringer Reef and get some more wine! I was chuffed because I was going to see Tony Wheeler. I told my friend of the change of plans and low and behold she decided to come too! So much for Valentines Day weekend, but hey we’ve been married for 12 years and Craig doesn’t believe in that crap! He usually buys me a bunch of flowers the day after Valentines Day because they’re cheaper!
So cut now to the 12 February. I have my medical procedure and wake up fanatically, doctor says go home and rest for the day, no driving, drinking or signing important documentation! Roger that, I went home packed the bags (Craig packed the camper trailer the night before), impatiently waited for Craig and the kids to get home and then settled in for the 3.5 hour drive! Craig driving of course. I strategically never mentioned at the hospital what my plans for the day were! Oops!
We arrived at 8.45pm at the Bright Riverside Caravan Park. My friend was already there, she said a quick hello and headed across the river to the first evening of Starlight Screening in Howitt Park to watch South to South. I didn’t go that evening as we had quite a bit to set up and the kids hadn’t had dinner. Our site was right on the river and we were looking straight across the Ovens River to the Bright Brewery and Howitt Park. Perfect location although a bit noisy but to be fair by 11pm it was quiet so I was more than happy with that.
Next morning I was up at the crack with a council worker and his blower vac cleaning up around public areas at 6.30am! Bit early but hey I was excited and keen to get to the first presentation which was Tony Wheeler. We were there early and got a seat in the second row of the church. There were 4 venues being utilised around Bright and each had different presentations and films that you could freely move between. Luckily for us on the Saturday all of ours were at the Uniting Church so we didn’t have to go far.
As it got closer to 10am the church started to get full, by 10am it was a packed house with people sitting in the aisles and standing where ever they could. Many people missed out and I was so thankful I wasn’t one of them. The presentation started and he covered the beginning of their travels briefly as he only had a 1 hour slot. He discussed the humble beginnings of Lonely Plant (if only he knew I currently have a stack of 12 on my bedside table!) and then he discussed the charity work he and his wife, Maureen are now involved in (champions, good to hear they are giving back, makes them even more brilliant) and finally his trip from London to Melbourne over 24 days using only budget airlines (not too proud to sit in economy (insert emoji love hearts here)). Worst thing about his presentation, it ended! I could listen to him all day.
Now I say that Tony Wheeler was my draw card but to be fair there wasn’t a bad speaker. I’m going to briefly describe who else I saw in bullet points. I didn’t see everything that was shown as you can’t be in 2 places at once but I will certainly be making this a annual fixture in my calendar going forward.
After all this we went back to camp and had dinner with the family. As so many people missed out on Tony Wheeler’s presentation, he had graciously agreed to do another presentation before the starlight screening that night at 8.30pm. I, of course rushed back to camp to tell Craig he’s coming to listen. I was secretly hoping he was going to listen and then think exactly what I was thinking – we’re going to do that! He didn’t quite respond the way I had hoped but he enjoyed it all the same. Even better, I enjoyed it second time round!
The kids were playing in the park behind us during Tony’s presentation and they returned at the being of the starlight screening. I was a bit disappointed, I thought we would have to go then but to my surprise Caelan and Keira curled up on mine and Craig’s laps for half the movie before falling asleep. Alannah lay down on a towel and watched the sub-titled movie. Craig had been across to the Bright Brewery and we enjoyed a few Alpine Ale craft beers while we took in the following movie:
I wasn’t going to attend any of the Sunday sessions as I thought I would have to help Craig get packed up to leave. I was up early again thanks to the council blower vac! There’s a silver lining to every cloud though as I had the inside of the camper packed up early and Craig said to me, go and watch a few before we go and he and the kids would finish off the packing up. Didn’t have to ask me twice, I was out of there.
Now this presentation made me really think, what makes someone so determined and confident in their ability to actually do what this man has done. He was really inspiring, he’s made me want to challenge myself a bit more, not sure how and what yet but I’m going to look at things with the different attitude now as this guy is quite inspirational. Now I just wish Craig had seen this presentation.
There were plenty of other films and presentations by inspiring people but those listed are the ones I made it too. Click here if you would like to see the full schedule of the weekend. I also missed all the events on Friday. So what have I learnt this weekend;
Last thing to always remember – most people are good and willing to help!
So what were the crazy kids doing while I was dreaming up new adventures for us:
Now you might think something like this is going to cost a fortune but I think the prices are great value. Prices below are for adults.
Day Pass for the Saturday $60.00
Pass for the whole weekend $110.00
Another great place to stay in the Porepunkah Bridge Caravan Park, if you aren’t a camper, you can hire a cabin for the weekend.
Overall, it was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time and can’t wait for next year’s. Hope to see you all there.