For the last 4 years, REDARC has been sponsoring the Big Red Bash, a country and rock music festival that has seen Aussie rock legends Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, The Angels, and John Farnham doing what they do best in front of Big Red at Birdsville.
This year, REDARC was kind enough to ask someone from their Marketing Team (moi) and someone from our Tech Support Team (Lex) to attend.
Now something you should know about me is that 1) I’ve never towed before, 2) I don’t normally drive large cars, 3) I’ve never travelled long distances on the road. So, I almost said no to the opportunity, after all, driving over 1,000 km of mostly rough corrugated roads is not exactly one for a ‘novice’ driver like myself.
But always up for a challenge, and apart from a few hiccups along the way and on the way back (more on that later) it was a wonderful experience and I’m glad I was thrown in the deep end so to speak.
Below are my learnings that I will take with me for future travels.
1. Towing Courses are worth the investment
Whilst I’ve witnessed others embark on a towing course, it’s a little different when you’re the one behind the wheel. During the course, Lex and I were taught several driving techniques when towing, including reversing in a straight line, reversing into a camping spot, proper braking techniques in case of an emergency (watch out for those roos!) and general 4WDing techniques.
Luckily, I never had to use these techniques myself, but it was good to have this knowledge fresh in my head in case I needed it. I’d recommend it for both novices and experienced drivers alike, as you may pick up some tips you’ve never considered. Our thanks go to Ricky from Tow-Ed for his guidance and insights.
2. Dust gets absolutely everywhere
And it’ll be amongst your things for days. The Big Red Bash is located on an organic cattle farm, and when you combine that with 9,000 festival goers, that is a recipe for never-ending dust clouds. On one of the days you could just see a haze of dust all around the REDARC plaza. It was even in our food and drinks, and there is nothing you could do really.
My biggest tip is to purchase some cheap boots you won’t care to thrash and get dust on. We bought these from Big W and did the job ok on the trek up to Big Red.
No that’s not fog, that’s dust
3. It gets cold
I knew this coming in but was truly not expecting how cold it could get. On some days it was so cold my toes were hurting just walking on them, I thought I was getting frostbite. Our biggest mistake was forgetting to bring an extension cord with us to plug in the electric blanket at night. We made do with layering but it’s one of those little luxuries you appreciate when you have it.
4. You’ll literally be off the-grid
Being a millennial, I’ll be the first to admit that not having any phone reception to check-in with friends and family and browse social media during down time was difficult. But it’s even harder when you want to send images for work.
I know that in past years, other staff had trouble sending updates through but this year, we were sharing one tower with 9,000 people! This meant that Telstra users we’re not able to get through even when their phone showed 4G and full bars. I don’t want to imagine what it will be like next year since Big Red Bash gets bigger every time.
One tip I heard was if you go to the top of Big Red, switch your phone to airplane mode then turn it off, the phone will ping to the Birdsville phone tower instead of the portable phone tower for BRB and you should get better connection.
Indeed, I did see some people up there with their phones, so this may work but it’s a bit of a hike getting up there, so in my opinion it’s not really worth the trouble. Others I know had a vehicle in the day park area, which allowed them to drive out to Birdsville during the day and connect there.
You have all of this to compete with – don’t bother!
5. Get involved in the community
The fact that I wasn’t able to consistently get through to the outside world gave me the opportunity to connect with mother nature and with the ‘Bashville’ community. We struck up great conversations with Club 4X4 and Kelly Campers who were our neighbours during our stay, as well as customers passing our stand and taking the time to explain our products.
Big Red Bash had a great program throughout the day with kids’ activities, comedy acts, guest speakers and of course the concert during the evening, so you had plenty to be entertained by.
This year, participants at Big Red went into the Guinness Book of Records for having the most people do the Nutbush dance. We truly smashed it with over 1,719 choosing to partake, beating the previous record of 522.
Waving the REDARC flag, was me, Lex and his wife Chris participating and it’s pretty epic to know that REDARC is now an official Guinness record breaker.
6. Solar power is a lifesaver
Travelling to and being at the Big Red Bash allowed me the opportunity to get familiar with our products. Sure, being in the role that I am in, I know about them and how to talk about them, but it was my first time being able to actually use our products, like our Tow-Pro electric brake controllers and Solar Blankets.
The solar blankets practically sold themselves at the Bash especially when people can see them working in action. We had many customers enquiring about them, one person had theirs fall off the roof on the way and needed a replacement, others wanted one because their mate had one too.
One 150W solar blanket gave us enough power to charge our phone and camera batteries and LED lights in our camper trailer. Lex's camper had two solar panels and one 190W solar blanket, which provided enough power for the fridge, freezer, their charging gear, their electric blanket, and even a Nespresso machine for a cheeky ‘luxurious’ coffee hooked up to a 3000W Pure Sine Wave Inverter in the mornings.
When you’re camping out for three days or longer, they are a necessity and I am convinced that these are a must-have for any traveller.
7. Appreciate the little things and don’t sweat the small stuff
Whether it's having great company, that morning coffee, or even kicking back with a wine and cheese platter as the sun sets down and the music begins, Big Red Bash is all about appreciating the little things and not sweating the small stuff.
On the journey back home, our first stop was Mungerannie which is 315 km out from Birdsville. The day went by without any dramas until we had a quick rest stop and continued our drive. At Mungerannie it was there that we realised the whole back window had shattered, which absolutely covered the inside of the car with dust.
Having nothing to cover it, and still being over a day away from Adelaide, we were in a quick panic on what to do. Luckily a kind stranger saw our predicament and offered some blue tarp and gaffer tape for us to use. We were so thankful.
When you’re so remote out there, there is not much you can do but to keep calm and carry on. Truly, this is the type of attitude one should carry in any situation.
Big Red Bash was an eye-opening and unique experience, being thrown in the deep end I learnt a lot about what it takes to travel to such remote locations, about our products and above all the camaraderie formed over the 10 days we were travelling. If you have the opportunity I encourage you to go and be sure to stop by and say hello to the REDARC team who definitely be along for the ride again next year.
Words by Jessica Marrano, Marketing Coordinator