30 December 1972 - 1 January 1973

Article by Terry Stacey

Location: Bungool (near Cattai), NSW
Promoters: unknown
Attendance: unknown
Ticket price: unknown
MC: Gulliver Smith

Festival lineup:

Sat. 30/12/72
Glenn Cardier
Madder Lake

Sun. 31/12/72
The 69’ers
Original Battersea Heroes
Mother Earth
Jeff St John
Band of Light
La De Das
Country Radio

Mon 1/1/1973
(morning only)
Band of Light
Country Radio


The Bungool Festival of Music was held over three days from 30 December 1972 to 1 January 1973 at a camping ground/recreation area at Bungool on the banks of the Hawkesbury River near Cattai, north of Windsor NSW, about 60 kms north-west of Sydney. It was billed as the "Worlds Largest New Years Party" and with the combination of a tranquil riverside location, ideal summer weather and a top line-up of Aussie acts, it had the potential to be a huge success. But sadly it lacked one vital ingredient -- people -- and only 2000 turned up over the whole weekend.

This was probably due to fact that the festival almost didn't go ahead. Following complaints from local water skiers, the first night (Friday 29 December) was called off after the local Baulkham Hills Shire Council took out a court order to stop the festival. However the organisers neatly got around that problem by inviting all the bands to a three-day picnic there, as it was a registered camping-picnic ground. After that initial setback, the festival finally got underway on the Saturday afternoon, but these problems no doubt discouraged many patrons from attending.

The stage was a concrete platform set in the sandstone banks of the river. The sound system, provided by Jands, was reported to be the best sound yet heard by Australian bands. Go-Set commented:

“… couple this with a windless star-filled sky on a superb midsummer night and you have heaven”.

The first day featured only six acts, with the majority of the big-names slated for the New Year’s Eve bill on the Sunday. Among the Sunday performances, Band Of Light gave a high energy performance, which was one of the festival highlights, and Home provided a tasteful set with fine vocal harmonies. When Sherbet came on at around 10:30 the crowd at first booed and hissed, calling them "pretty poofters" because of their glam outfits. However, true to form, they provided 1-½ hrs of superb showmanship, loud and tight musicianship and eventually had the entire crowd on their feet, with the boos and hisses replaced by loud clapping and people dancing in the dirt. At midnight Daryl Braithwaite sang "Auld Lang Syne", then the music continued to 3 am.

Only three acts played on the Monday morning and by 10 am there were only about 100 people left, due to the scorching heat of the day. 

Copyright © Terry J. Stacey


Greg Williams recalls:

I was there! It's been 35 years but I'll dredge out what I can from the old brain-box. I was 20 at the time and living in McMahon's Point with a few workmates. I don't remember the circumstances of us hearing of the festival ... maybe it was promoted on radio. Anyway, we piled in to my panel van (ah, those were the days) and duly arrived at Bungool on the Saturday. I understood it to be the Bungool Country Club. There were certainly some impressive buildings.

Things began to go awry immediately. There was a hold-up and long line at the gates. We were told that the festival had been cancelled, and yet, as we had all paid up for tickets, this was the cause of some concern. Now, I may remember incorrectly, but we were actually more or less locked in the place until it was decided what to do. I mean, there were armed guards on the gate, seriously. Now, the infrastructure was very bare. I think the first 24 hours' food consisted of lentil pies and juice from hippy stalls. I won't eat lentil pies again.

Eventually, during the day on Saturday, it was announced that a reduced lineup of bands were going to play anyway. To tell the truth, I don't remember a low turn-out, but 20 isn't an observant age. It was a bonus that we could drive our cars right up to the edge of the park serving as the auditorium. Come to think of it, you couldn't do that if it were a big turnout.
The music was great, naturally. I remember Madder Lake was there as well as the lineup you list. At least, I think I do. Sherbet was just starting out: no-one knew much about them, but they played a lot of very good music. The 69ers were funny buggers, real larrikins. The lead singer picked his nose, saying "we're going to play a boogie". I think their music was good. The ampitheatre was magnificent! There are cliffs on both sides of the river at that point and the echoes really added to the effect. There was an intermittent fault in the sound system, and the resulting "blatt" would echo magnificently around the river, quite spectacular.
Sunday was fantastic, if a bit hot. Young guys don't really care about that sort of thing, though. My impressions get a bit patchy here, due to the substances popular in those days. I was fresh from Sunbury and eager to party in a similar manner. Some time during the evening on Sunday, there was a police presence, flashing lights etc. I was told that someone had sabotaged an army duck moored at a jetty there.
I had an interesting experience with security. I had cut a toe on broken glasss and a girl who worked at the venue broke into a building to use medical supplies on my cut. We hadn't been there very long when a guard burst into the room. He had a very large dog and an even larger pistol, drawn and pointed right at me! Political correctness had not yet evolved. Shit, the hole in the end of the barrel looks very big up close. Somehow I emerged alive and free but I expect my good samaritan was probably sacked. Needless to say, my high had ended and the new year was ushered in a bit more sedately than planned.
O.K., sadly I seem to have come to the bottom of my memory box. I hope at least some of the content is of interest. Bungool remains a milestone in my developmental years, as do Sunbury '72, '73 and to a lesser extent '74 and '75. Today's kids are poorer for missing it all.  I still possess my double album of Thorpie live at Sunbury. What a weekend!

References / Links

Many thanks to Terry Stacey and to Greg Williams for his recollections of the event.

(author unknown)
"Bungool Was Magic"
, 13 January 1973