WITH not a drop of rain and mild temperatures, perfect weather drew close to 30,000 patrons to this year's Gympie Music Muster.
The Amamoor Creek campgrounds were at capacity by Saturday, and true to the Muster's family friendly atmosphere, security faced next to no trouble both in camping and on-site. In the festival precinct itself, patrons enjoyed a host of exciting performances, with some unexpected surprises as well.
Coming back to her country roots was headliner Jessica Mauboy. The megastar was completely at home at the top of the all-Aussie line-up, getting the crowd dancing along to her biggest pop hits with a full brass band. The Muster hill came alive on Saturday night with her rousing sing-along of Better Be Home Soon by Crowded House, with the largest numbers seen for a headline act in many years.
Adam Brand even brought up some pint-sized fans from the crowd to rock out on the Main Stage; each left with a signed guitar and the memory of a lifetime.
Friday night created Muster history, with a meaningful Paint This Land sing-along on the hill, led by everyone's favourite blues duo Busby Marou. The crowd joined together and raised their voices in celebration of music, mateship and making a difference.
Young rising star Caitlyn Shadbolt got the audiences going on Saturday, and even brought her friend and duet partner Reece Mastin up on stage as a special surprise. The two performed their song Me Without You from Caitlyn's new album to an enthusiastic Main Stage crowd.
What makes the Muster so special is its emphasis on collaboration, which saw many acts making surprise guest appearances in one another's sets. As well as Reece and Caitlyn, Brooke McClymont jumped on stage with hubby Adam Eckersley, Dean Ray and Melanie Dyer surprised fans with a sweet duet, Adam Brand and Travis Collins shared the stage for a rendition of I Fought the Law, and Jessica Mauboy invited friend from Tamworth Loren Ryan to join her highly anticipated set on the Main Stage.
Line-dancing and bush poetry kicked off each day at 8:30am, and the fun didn't stop until the last act at the Crow Bar at 2am. The kids were catered for, with Amber Lawrence getting tiny toes tapping Friday and Saturday in The Grove, and plenty of fun around the site for the little ones.
A well-received new element of the program was The Electric 80's Show in the Crow Bar. Decked out in tutus, tights, headbands and fluro, patrons danced until the wee hours, before wandering down the Muster's lantern-lit forest paths to their tents. Also popular in the Crow Bar were new talent Hurricane Fall, who played Friday, Saturday and Sunday to a packed tent.
The Fender Jam highlighted some of the country's best guitarists in a night of pure shredding, featuring big names Travis Collins, Adam Eckersley, Joe Robinson, Matt Smith of Thirsty Merc, as well as surprise crowd-favourite Reece Mastin.
The Gympie Music Muster, made famous as the biggest not-for-profit camping and music festival in Australia, has raised over $15 million for various charities over its 36 years. This year's charity partner Mates4Mates is an organisation which assists ex-servicemen and women when they return from duty. The Mates4Mates team at the Muster this year collected patrons' kind donations across all four days, highlighting the true giving spirit of the festival.