The range of ages wasn’t lost on Missy Higgins, who headlined the festival on Sunday afternoon, observing: “There’s a lot of youngies in the audience.”
Higgins interspersed old songs such as the poignant Don’t Ever with material from her latest album – which she described as “more disco” – including Futon Couch, a love song for her husband.
It may be several years since Higgins first wowed with her debut album The Sound of White in 2004, but her ability to write a searing lyric and to carry a crowd with her striking voice has not changed.
Earlier, The Waifs had the audience on its feet dancing and clapping, with a set that included Lighthouse – in the shadow of Queenscliff’s lighthouse.
Vikki Thorn showed what an underrated instrument the harmonica is as it soared through Fisherman’s Daughter, while Donna Simpson sated the crowd with the classic London Still, which Simpson recalled knocked Beyonce out of Triple J’s Hottest 100.
On Saturday night audiences were treated to the horn-heavy, high-energy songs of the Cat Empire, with the band typically exuberant.
“Music is the language of us all,” they sang, and that evening it felt true, with the band creating a carnival-like atmosphere.
The legendary Tim Finn set the mood with his bluesy vocals, and there were gems to be discovered off the main stage, too – including Brisbane-based electro dub crew Dubarray.
With multiple stages and even gigs chugging along railway tracks aboard Queenscliff’s Blues Train, there was always something on over the festival’s three days.
Entry was free for kids aged under 13, and they were kept entertained with free rides and a dedicated children’s program including the puntastic The Vegetable Plot trio and hula-hooping with the Bebop Circus.
The main dilemma for parents was extracting offspring from the plate-spinning workshops to catch one of the many musical treats tucked away around the historic township, from buskers on the street corners to yoga with music to start the day.
Forget the body glitter and feathered headdresses, at unpretentious Queenscliff, the accessories of choice were babies with ear muffs, felt hats and reusable crockery. It is a festival for everyone.
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne