Last Year’s Secret Garden Line Up Share Their Most Vivid Memories

Secret Garden Festival

“I loved the Secret Garden Festival partly because it was SOOO wonderfully secret! I didn’t actually know where to go until just before the gig! I had a great time with my band. Fabulous audience.” – Peter Combe

We’re glad you had fun Peter, we did too! Here are some more Secret Garden memories and unique festival features described in further detail by some of last year’s artists, ahead of the complete line up announcement for 2016!


Most Vivid Memory: I think I remember being on stage, in masks and cloaks like some Eyes Wide Shut situation, looking out at a whole bush clearing full of these strangely costumed people and suddenly our friends were on stage with us dressed all in white but it really just sounds like a dream.

A Unique Feature: I love all the little pathways through the undergrowth that you come across making your way through the festival. There’s always something interesting at the end, whether it’s a lit-up artwork, some kind of yurt, or just a couple of people having sex. The vibe is always going to be good.


Most Vivid Memory: Just as our first night felt like it was winding up, some friends and I found ourselves walking across the site and straight into the Purple Sneakers DJs party out of nowhere! I have absolutely no idea what time it was, but seeing Gabe Gleeson (one half of PS DJs) in his pyjamas mixing O.T Genasis’ ‘CoCo’ into Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’ to 400 odd (spectacularly dressed) people was something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon..

A Unique Feature: Secret Garden has an almost unparalleled vision to promote and champion Australian artists where other many festivals would look towards internationals. Whether it was a hazy, late night set from Milwaukee Banks over at the Fern Gully Stage or the insane closing set from Client Liaison at the Garden Stage – this festival has got everyone well and truly covered. No doubt!


Most Vivid Memory: I remember the festival being a bit of a blur but for all the good reasons. When we rocked up it was a very playful setting, almost like being on the set of Fern Gully but IRL. When we played it was awesome because so many people wanted to dance and get the festival started. It was only twilight of the first day and we were allowed to tempt a horde of people into dancing while we were sound checking which was not only fun but also reflected the fever people were sharing. Our stage in particular was quite surreal as it had a canopy of trees covering the dance floor (or forest floor) and below there were all these elf like colourful creatures just moving and grooving.

A Unique Feature: Apart from our own experience, the festival at night was just a playground for everyone to get lost in. From chilled red rooms where everyone laid about as if they were in an opium den, to hidden thatched areas for people to feel a sense of being isolated, Secret Garden did do quite a great job at that, making everyone feel removed from the real into a hidden wonderland.

Love Bombs

Most Vivid Memory: Our first and most vivid memory of Secret Garden would have to be back in 2014. We arrived to the festival only to be escorted swiftly to the stage we were playing on and we all thought we were hallucinating because there stood 500+ people, vibing, dancing, ready for good times. We thought we were playing in a “token” cocktail bar out the back or something. Anyway, we drank way too many cocktails on the way through and were in very very very high spirits, made all the more radiant by an over-excited fog machine, 5 stage invasions, skipping vinyl and beaming techni-colour floodlights behind us. There was definitely something in the water that night.

A Unique Feature: It’s just one big friends + friends + friends community, an extended family if you will. We love the atmosphere, it’s what a festival should be like!

Jeremy Neale (also in Velociraptor)

Most Vivid Memory: Playing our set mid-arvo in DEVO tribute attire (Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! era with yellow jumpsuits & energy domes). It was a heatwave kind of day and it’s probably the closest to passing out any of us have been during a set. Worth it? Probably. Also, both Donny Benet and Client Liaison delivered some all-time sets that I’ll never forget.

A Unique Feature: Who else could have secured an act like Peter Combe, to perform for the most appreciative and ready to party audience? I didn’t know it was just what I needed from live music until it happened and well, it was beautiful. ‘Newspaper Mama’ – what a banger!


Little May

Most Vivid Memory: I stumbled upon an under the sea world deep in the festival jungle a few years ago. Conveniently, I was dressed as a sea-monkey at the time so I felt like I was really at home in my natural environment. A roaming musician started serenading me with an improvised song about a sea-monkey who really wanted to become a land-monkey and the 15 or so people who happened to be around at the time all joined in with the chorus. I really felt like I too could become a land-monkey if I set my mind to it. It was quite inspirational.

A Unique Feature: Every single thing about SG is pretty unique…The Friday night party is always pretty special because everyone has to dress according to one overall theme and people get really into the headspace of the theme as well. When you have 1000 people wearing pyjamas, dancing to Peter Combe, in an area that is themed as a kid’s 7th birthday pyjama party, you’re going to have some pretty fun and silly times.

Purple Sneakers DJs

Most Vivid Memory: Despite all the awesome emerging and established live and producer talent that Secret Garden consistently books year in year out, I gotta say I genuinely feel my favourite part of the festival is the local DJs that play the side and late night stages.

My memories from Secret Garden are sketchy at best, but I have vague recollections of yolo-ing between stages late at night and walking into sets from Sydney friends like Ariane, Levins, Boonie aka Frames, Shantan, Jimmy Sing, Shag and others. These are just some of the people who make up the spiritual backbone of the Sydney late night community. Whilst the majority of them do not release music and are not international touring artists as such, what they bring to the festival is soul and they provide the heartbeat of the SG weekend.

A Unique Feature: Secret Garden is a unique event in a unique environment, and as a DJ whose played the event myself, I know that every local DJ wants to bring their best to the little farm down in Camden. As the crowd is always up for it, it means that you can play eclectic stuff that wouldn’t usually fly in a club in Newtown or the Cross. Plus it’s just so good to randomly stumble upon one of your friends bringing their A Game to a crowd at an open minded music loving festival. It’s that warm and positive community vibe that is what makes Secret Garden so special.


Le Fruit

Most Vivid Memory: The most memorable moment for us was closing a stage dubbed as ‘The Nest’ last year. We arrived there at midnight to an empty field, playing to no one for almost an hour, when little by little each other stage began to close and the crowd wandered in. Eventually there was a full field dancing until 4am to our back to back set with DJ Shag made up of 2008 throwbacks, Todd Terje edits and a chorus of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘All Night Long’ for the finale.

A Unique Feature: Secret Garden holds a special place in the heart of Le Fruit – it’s an incredible festival with a perfect vibe across two days. The dress up factor makes a big difference, I think people are just up for anything when they’re in a forest and dressed as a shark.

As a special surprise, the festival organisers have just released a teaser line up announcement. Check it out below and buy a ticket here before it’s too late!


Compiled by Tony Kingston
Top Photo by Peter Combe (taken from the stage at SG 2015!)




During the week Tony works in a busy retail corporate office. Once day becomes night, there’s a good chance you’ll see him at a gig or DJing at a house party.