The how to guide | Volunteering at the Birdsville Big Red Bash
A lot of people were asking how we got such a sweet gig getting to be volunteers at the Birdsville Big Red Bash, the most remote music festival in the world and just what’s involved.
Getting the Position;
Well there seems to be Three ways to get involved in the volunteer crew of the Bash.
Previous years volunteer crew will receive notice of the registration for positions prior to being advertised to the general pubic. This is a fantastic way for the event management team to continue to thank and reward the past volunteers for their incredible efforts in the success of each Big Red Bash.
There is the conventional way - Apply through the Big Red Bash website. Register your interest through the volunteer portal - logging your personal details, previous work experience/ qualifications/ trades and then selecting the volunteer crew section(s) you wish to work with and what kind of shifts times suit you. Once you have registered your interest in your chosen area, await confirmation and approval of your application.
Then there is the way we swooped in and scooped up our positions. Arriving to Birdsville a week prior to the start of the Bash and following a suggestion from a fellow travelling couple - we popped into the community hall where the volunteer roll in was happening to see if their were any positions left needing to be filled...... We were both able to pick up last minute volunteering positions, although we've been told you might not be as lucky in 2019.
Arriving in Birdsville a few day prior to roll in, you head into the Birdsville Community Hall to check in; register, confirm shifts, pick up crew merchandise pack (crew shirt/ BRB hat/ volunteer handbook/ BRB program guide/ crew wrist band) and meet the volunteer team.
Each Volunteer will attended an 1hr-1.5hr afternoon information session in the community hall covering info about the events background and history, along with event safety instructions, expected behaviour and responsibilities. This info session is run by the Volunteer Management Crew and Lucas Trihey the Event Director. It’s a time for questions and information. (Certain crew jobs may require an additional 10-15min info/ training session i.e road marshals, merchandise sales etc)
From here depending on your starting shift you will either roll in to the Bashville camp on day 2 or 3 of set up, to ensure you are on site and ready for your first shift.
You will need to arrive to Bashville HQ 5mins prior to your shift start times (unless your shifts are in Birdsville town itself) for a brief run through of your shifts responsibilities (shift requirements can vary depending on the needs/ services for that time/day).
You are required to sign in and sign out of each shift to ensure you completed the allotted volunteer hours required to successfully complete your volunteer commitment requirements.
As a Volunteer, you want to be helpful, happy, excited and friendly- its a great environment to be in and volunteers help make the difference that set the vibe for a huge part of the overall Bash atmosphere.
Other examples of Bashville site volunteer job positions include; merchandise sales, staff catering, structure set up and pack down of (eg; staff tents, stage, hocker tents, scaffolding, camping/ vendor allotments, concert area fencing, enviro toilets), helicopter ground crew, information guides, concert area marshals, circulation road marshals, main car entrance gate marshals and more.
There are also some jobs stationed within town/ Birdsville too; ticketing, merchandise sales, catering etc (which you can travel back and forth between Bashville).
What do you get for your time;
Free general admission ticket per volunteering adult (2019; value $539)
A BRB crew merchandise pack- BRB official crew t-shirt, BRB baseball cap and official BRB Program.
Early immediate-family (non volunteer) registration at time of volunteer check in.
Early entry into Bashville (before vendors/ sponsors and General admission).
Designated volunteer camping area/ or access to dog camping area (if travelling with you beloved pet)
Bashville HQ tent with hot beverages and book exchange
Volunteers drinks and nibbles Wrap-up Party (with Bash event management crew and Greg Donovan, Event Founder) after the close of BRB.
What you’ll need to successfully survive the Big Red Bash;
Plenty of food (especially if your travelling with your family)
Heaps of Water (there is no access to fresh water once your in Bashville)
Cash (as there is no eftpos due to limited to no reception.... There is a fantastic merchandise shop, numerous delicious food vendors and plenty of awesome market stalls to visit)
Sunnies and a Camera (days are bright and landscape breathtaking.... be sure to capture all those incredible artists plus sunrise and sunset views)
Warm clothes and beanies (the days and nights can be windy and cold, especially if your working an early morning or overnight shift)
Warm blankets/ diesel for your heater (the nights get chilly)
Camp chair (you don’t want to be standing or sitting on the ground for too long)
Stockpile of firewood (for evening campfires, some vendors will have wood for purchase)
BYO alcohol (not sold on site, non-glass is best as no glass is allowed away from your camp kitchen- aluminium recycling available)
Bucket/ bottle for your grey water catchment (no dumping of water or waste on the ground)
Wheelie bin on your spare tyre to pack your rubbish bags (no rubbish facilities, you need to take it with you)
Sand pegs for tents/ awnings/ annex walls (the ground is soft as you could imagine)
A sand board to surf Big Red (bought or homemade, so much fun for young and old)
And a great festival spirit (especially as a volunteer, this is the bread and butter of the Bash)
Most common access routes;
Via Birdsville Track (from Marree/ or Walkers Crossing PAR- Innamincka)
Via Cordillo Downs Road (from Innamincka)
Via Birdsville Development Road (from Windorah, Charleville)
Via Eyre Development Road (from Bedourie, Boulia)
Where to camp before the event in Birdsville;
Birdsville Caravan Park (Cost)
The Birdsville Common (Free)
By the Diamantina River (Free)
The Best Bits being a volunteer;
Wow what an experience for our entire family. Sharing the edge of the Simpson Desert with 9000 other like minded campers, coming together from all over Australia (and some from overseas)- camping, partying and having a cracking good time..... It was the best and most amazing vibe; safe, fun and child friendly.
The Volunteer Vibe; For Ryan and I, we have been travelling full time, so this was the first work we had done in a while - Ryan in 4months and myself in 18months (I had been on maternity leave)....everyone was really friendly and worked together as a team.
The Volunteer Management Crew; each member worked together ensuring the shifts were smooth, organised, clear on direction and successful.
Early morning shifts for us both; me as a night shift nurse and us as parents of an infant, the excuse to get up and watch the sunrise as we worked our early morning shifts was spectacular and then getting to enjoy the sunset together with our kids of an evening was truly special.... seeing the lighting change across the incredible sand dunes of Big Red was truly something else.
The hours we worked; allowed us to have opposite shifts to have someone with the kids at all times. Ryan did pre roll in shifts and was over and done with quick and I did all 6am shifts so we didn’t miss any opportunities of the festival atmosphere .... Sand boarding down big red with the kids, getting to listen to all the artists and sets, seeing our kids perform in the Big Red Rumble with the Crack Up Sisters, watching all the daytime entertainment shows, checking out all the stalls and sponsor displays, and having the time to chat with heaps of people/ make new friends and met other travelling families.
With some of the early cold morning shifts we were lucky to enjoy the warmth of a provided campfire at the work area but then each night we got to share campfires with our family and our friends.
The best opportunity we found from volunteering was meeting so many lovely new people; from the management staff/ some of the artists/ event organisers, to the fellow volunteers, to the paying patrons..... What a incredible atmosphere to be involved in.
The Tough bits;
The sand/dust- but that’s just a given in the desert.
The wind - creating a real dust storm mess and intensified the chill factor, again that’s just part of being in the desert.
The cold - some days and nights were cold, as expected in winter.
The end - we were having so much fun and wished it could have kept rolling.......
All in all it was the greatest experience we could have hoped for, with so much to build up the amazing experience, the tough bits went by the waist side. As a full time travelling family - we changed our 2019 itinerary so we could come back again as volunteers this year..
Join in the fun with us and let’s ‘Rock the Simpson!’
Big Red Bash 2019; July 16-18.
Massive shout out to the volunteer and event coordinating crew - you guys did an excellent job. The Bash ran smooth like a well oiled machine with tons of splash! Special thanks to Volunteer Management crew Linda and Sarah, who not only always found a way to make us feel like family but left our kids feeling like superstars every time they saw you.
If you have any questions regarding your volunteering or if your interested in becoming a volunteer you can get in touch with the guys form Event Safety Service.