Fond memories of the Muster
FOR 11 months of the year the Amamoor Creek State Forest lies silent, the only sound the noise of crystal clear water trickling over rocks in Amamoor Creek and the lethargic ring of bellbirds calling in the forest.
Each year, as August nears, the forest is gradually taken over.
At first it is the early-bird campers and volunteers preparing the site.
Then, as the last weekend in August approaches, it reaches a crescendo with thousands gathering for a fun-filled weekend in the bush.
It's an action-packed time with entertainment everywhere, including the campsites.
My first memory of the Muster was one lazy Sunday afternoon in 1984.
I was mucking around in the backyard of my father's place on Glastonbury Rd as a long line of vehicles stretched, for what seemed like forever, into town.
At the time I had no idea the vehicles were coming home from one of the first Musters, at the Webb's Thorneside
property, and little did I know the impact the event would have on my adult working life.
Since then I have worked at 15 Musters and have some great memories and images of the event.
While enjoying capturing the stars and music legends like Slim Dusty, Jimmy Barnes and Kenny Rogers, the most memorable would have to be 2011.
Unfortunately, for organisers the heavens had opened up and swamped the site.
The night before Adam Brand wowed fans in teaming rain.
Next day, the Main Stage mosh pit had turned into a mud pit and the Muster diehards made the most of it.
The Hill became a massive slip and side, and mud wrestling a Muster sport.
I was trying to capture the mayhem and ventured too close.
Before I knew it, I was tackled into the slosh with about three over-friendly fans on top of me.
While sinking into the mud my only thought was to save my gear.
My right arm remained upright clutching my camera while I wrestled the attackers. Thankfully, another fan saved my gear, taking it from my outstretched hand.
I, however, wasn't so lucky and spent the rest of the day in mud-soaked clothes - not a good look when covering presentations in the VIP tent.
It's the fans that make the Muster what it is.
They're happy, friendly and looking for a good time.
Humour is the glue that gets people stuck on the Muster.
Anyone who takes a walk around the campsites soon works out it's all about fun and country camaraderie.
The campers welcome you into their sites with a beer, a bite to eat and conversation.
I have never witnessed a fight at the event, and never met any angry people there.
In fact it's the opposite. Like the muddy fans in the mosh pit, people can be too friendly and they all want is their photo taken.
Since my first Muster in 99, when I photographed the great Slim Dusty - who, by the way, was a gentleman and great to talk to - I've seen many changes.
The banning of eskies on the Hill and the protests surrounding it, the canning of the bonfire on the Hill and floods stopping fans getting to the event.
Even with the changes, the Muster is like no other event in Australia - it's special.
I hope I'm around to enjoy the next 15.