Words by Paul Hollingworth and Photos By Paul H, Matt G, Jason R, and Gary W.
Our Labour Day long weekend event has traditionally been used to visit and support the activities associated with the ChillOut Festival. With the exception of 2021 when many festival events were cancelled, Motafrenz have been a firm presence at the ChillOut Parade and the ChillOut Carnivale for as long as anyone can remember – some say over twenty years!
My weekend started like most long weekends – with work on Friday. I was lucky enough to get away before lunch and drove my Ollie (1969 Morris 1100S) up the M8 Western Fwy to sunny Daylesford. The trip was scheduled to 75 minutes but, as I was going mostly uphill and poor Ollie is an old man, it took closer to 100 minutes. Don’t worry, my dear reader, I was still able to arrive in Daylesford in time to buy a meat-pie before they all sold out – yummy! I even had time for some antique shopping – or more appropriately (I suppose), “looking at overpriced pieces of shite”, before check-in to our houses at 3pm.
Before 3pm, I was joined by Trent, Alan, and Vincent, so when we received the entry codes for all the houses, we headed off to have a sticky-beak at them all. Unfortunately, I left my phone in my room which left Leigh and Philip stranded without the information on how to enter the house! So sorry!! But we weren’t gone too long, and we spent the rest of the afternoon greeting others as they arrived, and having long-overdue catch-ups. Later we would return to one of the other houses for more catch-ups and a dinner of takeaway pizza (and I drank a little too much).
The next day was our very first Magical Mystery Tour Goes Country. A respectable meeting time of 10am saw us greet thirteen teams at the showgrounds of Victoria Park. Gordon and I had made a test-run of the route some weeks ago, and Daniel and I made the initial question gathering trip a few weeks before that (you may recall those shenanigans from a previous article on this newsfeed). After the last team departed, Gordon and I headed off to the end point in separate cars to set-up there. Somehow, I arrived about 20 minutes before he did! As the teams arrived at the finish line, we got the impression that all had a great time, and we came to realise that some of the answers had changed since we wrote them – oh, well.
One of the questions required teams to take a selfie at the midway point, with extra points for originality. The maximum points went to the team that included testicles appearing to be preparing to teabag, and honourable mentions to the team that flashed their cracks, and the one with a simulated blowjob. No one said we needed class – and we certainly did not witness any lol. The event was a fundraiser for Daniel and Anthony and their entry in the Shitbox Rally, supporting the Cancer Council. We raised over $500 for them.
We were hoping to have our event listed as an official ChillOut supported event, but this was the first disappointment we received from the festival organisers for the weekend, and we were left completely out of their programme and advertising – we have no way of knowing how much more we could have raised for this charity. After the Tour, we had time to visit other events happening in the region before heading off for our first home-cooked “family” meal of the weekend. Thanks to all in House 3 for your efforts and hospitality.
Next day was the Sunday of the Parade and Carnivale. Motafrenz have always been an anchor participant in the parade, so much so that in some years we were required to circle the route five or six times just to try to flesh it out. This year though, it seems the corporates have won out, and the petty vendettas of some at ChillOut saw us witness the second disappointing experience we had at the hands of their team. After arriving at the allotted time, at the allotted location, I was told that “sorry, Motafrenz have not registered this year. We don’t have room for you. We are concentrating on community groups and are limiting the number of vehicles in the parade. We will allow those three smaller cars to take our VIPs, but none of the big sedans”.
Needless to say, I was furious, so I told them I would speak to our assembled group. My personal preference would have been to leave and be done with them, but after others in the group negotiated with them, explained our longstanding history with the parade, and our community-based nature, and we were permitted to enter the parade “but at the end”. It should be noted that I personally, as well as Daniel and Chris had multiply confirmed via email and voice that we would be attending, but I indicated that we would be unlikely to provide convertibles to their VIPs due to the damage these people always cause to our cars. It seems if we don’t give them freebies, we get the boot. Perhaps you might be interested to know that we were placed after a Coles delivery truck, a horse float advertising a veterinary business, a van advertising a mechanic, a car representing a chemist, and multiple other vehicles dedicated to festival sponsors. It was heartbreaking.
The members who were sent to set-up our site at the Carnivale reported minimal hassle and we generally had a nice time there. I must say that being part of the display allows us free entry, and this makes the event much more fun than paying the $35 asking price! The crowd seemed smaller than previous years, and the stalls a fair bit less exciting.
Some of our contingent was pleased when told we could leave before the allotted 5:30pm bump-out time, only to have a different official tell us this was untrue and that we are not following instructions, and that the person who told us we could leave did not exist. I mean, I work in a kindergarten and we don’t even speak to our most difficultly stubborn children in such a manner. This was disappointment number three, and put a bit of a downer on the whole day for me.
I was hoping that the traditional last-night barbecue would make me feel better. The last-night barbecue has always been one of the highlights of the Labour Day long weekend away for me. It is a time when all the travellers staying in the various Motafrenz houses and those staying in other locations (up the day or weekend) gather to relax before heading home on the Monday.
Unfortunately, as the event leader, I felt very let-down by the whole house of attendees who failed to show up without notice even though we had catered for their number. I will take it as a learning opportunity and move on.
The final day was Monday, the Labour Day holiday, and we found ourselves travelling to Castlemaine for the third year in a row to shop at the Mill Market and lunch at Das Kaffeehaus – again, a sensational meal with wonderful conversations, but the site for my final disappointment of the weekend – a fabulous (and in my opinion undetectable) wig had no tag on it, and they refused to sell it to me! It made me look 60 years younger!
Perhaps for next year we can take a different approach to the Parade? One suggestion I have received says we discontinue our stand-alone presence and continue our former partnership with the LGBTIQA+ Elders and their carers from Hepburn House. This arrangement worked well pre-COVID, and we could use them as our local contact to organise our joint presence. The benefits of this arrangement include Motafrenz members not being placed in a situation where they can be ridiculed, insulted, and disrespected – but we still maintain a presence by co-branding.
The other suggestion I have received is to tell them where they can shove their parade. The Carnivale, on the other hand, remains comparatively simple – we just rock up, and set up. The downside of the Carnivale is the large amount of time we are required to remain in the park with our cars.
My favourite Labour Day weekend is still that of 2021, and its Non-ChillOut ChillOut – maybe we just drop our official commitments and let the individual decide where they want to spend their time…?
Either way, your feedback is always welcome. And thank you to all who came along and made the weekend such a treat.