Being a local I’ve always wanted to check out the Bello Winter Music Festival.
This year I just did that, in between all my normal adventures in places like New Zealand. And I’m pleased to say it was awesome.
Check out my review and all the other information you’d need about this great event, as well as all the cool places around it.
What’s The Bello Winter Festival?
For the 4th year in a row, the Bello Winter Music Festival in Bellingen has bought a talented array of musicians and artists to the foothills of the Great Dividing Range for 3 days of live music!
The Bello Winter Music Festival brings an array of artists from the United States of America, Mali and the United Kingdom while local artists get the chance to play throughout the town of Bellingen over 3 days and 4 nights.
What makes this festival so unique is the people and the venues and why that is, well I’ll get to that in a moment.
Where’s Bellingen, You May Ask…
Located halfway between Sydney and Brisbane, Bellingen is the gateway to the Great Diving Range and Outback New South Wales while remaining close to some of New South Wales best kept beaches, rainforests and rivers.
Bellingen lies on the banks of the Bellinger River which originates from the lush hills of Dorrigo Mountain and the Bellinger River National Park which are fantastic places for day hikes in some of Australia’s oldest rainforests.
Bellingen is known for its organic produce which can be found on the menu of any café or restaurant in the town to freshly brewed beer which is seriously good stuff.
Bellingen’s population may only be 4,000 which is a good thing as it’s a everyone knows everyone kind of town and that makes the Bello Winter Music Festival so much better when everyone gets down town for a dance.
This year certainly did not let down in terms of musicians with the likes of Fraser A. Gorman to The Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever to local legends such as Tyler Nakoa and Gungabuwala.
There were times where I jumped from watching Diamond Ducks angelic voices to a full No.5 Church Street then it was straight to The Federal Hotel for Magpie Diaries and heavy dose of American inspired country and a whole lot of saxophone!
The standout performance has to go to Gungabuwala where a group of 20 or so gathered each Monday in Bellingen to learn the local language, Gumbaynggirr under the guidance of Michael Jarrett.
The other standout performance was Fraser A Gorman of Melbourne with his mid-song jokes and genuine charm which had the crowds flocking to thank him at the end of his set.
The Bello Winter Music Festival certainly brought in the perfect balance of artists, venues, food and weather to create the perfect 4 day festival in the heart of New South Wales.
The Bello Winter Music Festival has a total of 8 main venues which are all within close walking distance of one another with a selection of smaller venues hosting musicians to keep the music flowing between sets.
From the Memorial Hall’s ability to host vast amounts of people to the warm and cosy vibe of No. 5 Church Street to the Australian pub vibe of Diggers Tavern, Bellingen excels at being able to host such a large number of artists and music lovers.
There was so much ease going from venue to venue as you could drop by a café or restaurant for a fantastic meal or drink then continue onto the next venue.
Without a doubt, Bellingen is known for its vast array of food and what better way to enjoy the music festival than to combine both music and food together!
One of the best examples of this is Bellingen Brewery Co. which serves some of the finest wood fired pizza and locally brewed beer while the band plays on a platform 3 metres above the crowd!
Outside of the cafes and restaurants, street food wafted throughout the streets with African to Mexican to local pop-up organic stalls such as Popla.
On the lawns of the local library, the LeaF Festival took place which for the 4th year in a row coincided with the Bello Winter Music Festival.
The purpose of the LeaF Festival is to educate people on topics such as climate change, yoga, meditation and the future of our forests with workshops and stalls.
One of the talks I attend was by Oisin Sweeney from National Parks of New South Wales who talked about the importance of the proposed Great Koala National Park which is set to add 175,000 hectares of forest to the protection of Australia’s most iconic animal, the koala.
While You’re In The Bellingen Shire…..
The Bellingen Shire is one of the most picturesque places in New South Wales due to its close proximity to the Great Dividing Range and coastal New South Wales making it one of the most fertile regions around.
So next time when you come for a dance at the Bello Winter Festival, make sure you check out these places!
Dorrigo National Park
Perched on the edge of one of the most beautiful drives in New South Wales, Waterfall Way Dorrigo National Park boosts lush old growth rainforests with a multitude of waterfalls such as the famous Crystal Showers and Tristania Falls along with some of the rarest bird life in Australia.
To enjoy Dorrigo National Park, allow 2 to 3 hours along the 6.6 kilometre loop track and to finish, go for a walk along the sky walk, jutting out over the forests canopy providing spectacular views.
Urunga Board Walk
From the forests of Dorrigo to the coastal town of Urunga, the Bellinger River makes its way out to the sea which is quite spectacular during both sunrise and sunset.
If you have a kayak even better! Otherwise opt for a walk along the fairly long boardwalk right out to the edge of the beach and river inlet.
A few kilometres out of the town of Dorrigo is the stunning Dangar Falls which all year round has a constant flow of water making it an ideal place to chill out with a picnic area to a 30 minute return walk to the base of the waterfall.
Cascade National Park
One of the lesser visited National Parks in The Bellingen Shire, Cascade National Park is ideal for beautiful short nature walks especially the Mobong walking track. Mountain biking is also an option in the park with various routes available.