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Adelaide’s Own Woodstock, The Myponga Pop Festival

It was held on a dairy farm on a hot summer’s long weekend in January 1971. In the quiet, sleepy town of Myponga south of Adelaide, thousands of music fans turned out for a three day long rock music festival that they say changed the Australian music scene forever.

Photo from ARW Poster shows the stage with Daddy Cool performing and part of the 20,000 strong crowd

Photo from ARW Poster shows the stage with Daddy Cool performing and part of the 20,000 strong crowd

Inspired by the 1969 Woodstock concert in the United States, Myponga boasted some of the biggest rock music acts in the world at that time and gave birth to several more.

Crowd estimates vary, but it’s generally agreed that about 15,000 people paid the $6 entry fee. It’s also agreed that thousands more jumped the fences, swelling the numbers to well over 20,000.

The line-up included the newly formed Australian group Daddy Cool, Spectrum, Fraternity, whose lead singer at that time was Bon Scott (before he joined AC/DC), Chain and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. Cat Stevens pulled out at the last minute to perform in Los Angeles.

The concert was sponsored by 5AD, Adelaide’s top pop music station at the time and also received a great deal of coverage in the local media, with reports in the Sunday Mail  reflecting the bewildered attitude of the Adelaide establishment.

“Ten thousand heavy rock fans at the Myponga pop festival tonight settled themselves firmly in their garbage-strewn pop paddock for a night of love, peace, rock music and booze, booze and more booze,” one report read. “The fans, who have flocked here from all over Australia, have consumed a huge amount of liquor, and are ready for anything the bands can throw at them.”

It’s true there was plenty of booze, a fair bit of pot smoking and not many bras worn! “There are about 5000 girls at the festival and there does not seem to be a bra between them,” the journalist wrote. “The male pop lovers are dividing their time between the big sound on stage and the females.”

Ross Wilson who was lead singer for Daddy Cool says, “It left its mark on Australian rock history. I really think Myponga had a lot to do with giving us a springboard for what we became. And only having one Myponga concert preserves the legacy beautifully. It’s well regarded in the mists of time.”

Ross recalls how basic it was with very few amenities for either performers or fans, “It was out in the middle of a wheat field or something, and there was just dust and chaff everywhere. We were sleeping on straw that they’d brought in from somewhere, but we didn’t care.”

After the dust had begun to settle in Myponga, newspaper reports raised concerns about the amount of booze consumed, the drugs that were (apparently) freely available  and the shedding of morals along with the bras.

I was an announcer at the time with 5AD and so got to spend a couple of days there but decided to drive back to Adelaide each night. It was hot and dusty as I remember, the music was loud and there was a lot of very drunk people.

The Myponga festival was only ever held once and was apparently very lucky to break even for the promoters. There was a similar concert the following year at Meadows and also a number of shows on the east coast such as Sunbury.

But for three long days in the summer of `71 Myponga was at the centre of the rock ‘n’ roll universe.

 

10 Responses to Adelaide’s Own Woodstock, The Myponga Pop Festival

  1. Bob Byrne September 24, 2014 at 2:38 am #

    I am just
    really testing this

  2. Pru O'Dea July 29, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    I was there. Best three days of my life. I left home so I could go coz my patents had forbidden it. SO COOL

  3. Graeme McVitty February 2, 2016 at 8:25 pm #

    G’day

    I too was at Myponga. Any chance of getting a copy of the photo that shows “Amanda Irving of Mitcham boogies away”

    The atmosphere at Myponga was hot and dusty, but was a memorable one for sure. As memorable as the Pea Soup at the Charles Street entrance of Coles in the 1950! 🙂

    Cheers
    Graeme McVitty

  4. Geo October 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

    Does anyone know where the property is exactly where the festival was held?

  5. dr john gurr August 20, 2018 at 9:34 pm #

    I too was there ..having set up a large tent with service to youth council to provide food and youth/social worker help to bombed out teenagers ..st john ambulance was there with a couple of doctors to help at risk revellers ..we also set up a similar welfare tent at the meadows pop festival ..an event to usher in a new era. We followed up by setting up a free youth coffee lounge in melbourne street north adelaide as part of a streetwork outreach to youth project ..

  6. Rob June 24, 2019 at 12:12 pm #

    I was really appreciate where I could get a copy DVD of the Myponga Pop Festival 1971?

  7. kelvyn stevens July 17, 2019 at 1:05 pm #

    I was there. I lived in Adelaide at that time and it was a really special time in my life. If i could, i would go back and do it all again.

  8. Buzz Boys July 29, 2019 at 4:16 pm #

    My friends (6+) and I were there. We drove down from Broken Hill in a single-car I think. It was a crazy weekend and I remember it raining on one night and we only had a clear plastic sheet each to stay dry. The rest is a blur.

  9. Janita Gabrielli August 11, 2019 at 12:16 am #

    No mention of Black Sabbath

    • Bernie Scott September 6, 2019 at 6:19 pm #

      Hi Janita
      I think Black Sabbath couldn’t make it or I missed them, might of had too much to drink along with a lot of other people. I was there playing drums in a band called Uncle Jack and I have never heard us mentioned. We were lucky..2nd band on…not getting paid…
      But’ Coca Cola filmed us and used us in a Coca Cola add. I think they paid us $50 each…..it was fantastic’ it is all a bl…ur!
      Regards
      Bernie

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