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My crazy CoastOut weekend

It was my first time at the CoastOut festival on Coffs Harbour and I had a fantastic weekend hanging out with various Brisvegans, Sydneyswingers, local lovelies and hoarse drag divas in a sunny seaside locale full of adventures.

I’ve been to many LGBT events in smaller cities and towns before, so let’s just say I didn’t have high expectations, but from the moment I stepped onto the train from Sydney Central and received a warm welcome from the CoastOut crew, the party started and I was greatly entertained.

“THE TRAIN?!?!?” I hear you shriek. Yup, I know. It took the whole Friday to get there on CountryLink. With magazines, my laptop and a book at the ready, I was prepared – but soon discovered that I didn’t need those boredom-killers after all. This would be no ordinary ride. I was handed a sparkling ticket on entry into the crazy carriage…

The carriage’s drag king and queen crew were Sandy Bottom, Coco Devine, Randy Dickson and Nikki Fashion, keeping us Coffs Harbour-bound travellers awake with various shows, games and stories. Luckily for me I won a round of Bingo and received a major prize:

Hours of singing, raving and chattering made all the drag hosts on our trip lose their voices before CoastOut even begun. It’s true! So they just drank heavily and muddled through the weekend of full-on events. There was no rest for the wicked, kicking off with the Zinc Welcome Party at the festival’s Marquee in Park Beach Reserve.

The opening night was the highpoint of the weekend for me, as I realised what a big deal this weekend was for the local community and its guests – even the mayor and local MP showed up. As the cocktails flowed, various entertainers took to the stage, including The Carpenters from Kempsey and the amazing Paul Capsis, all performances well received by the crowd.

It was a little unseasonably cold on Saturday morning, but the finals of the Surf Comp saw many local wave-catchers earn themselves some awards, while I explored Coffs a bit. I saw a very big banana. Then I looked up from Grindr and saw another Big Banana. And there was the special Kylie Minogue Exhibition in a local mall, which was an extraordinary collection from her 25-year career, including hand-written letters from the days when people used to write hand-written letters. Vintage!

Then we took off to the Pet Porpoise Poll for the Drag Out the Dolphins afternoon of camp queens and their talented marine friends. The dolphins and seals were so clever. Their drag queen mates did their very best to keep up but are notoriously difficult to train.

There were not one but two parties on the Saturday night. I liked the mixture of people you got. Not just folks from different places visiting Coffs Harbour but people of various ages getting along too. And I even saw gay men and lesbians hanging out and laughing together. This is unheard of in Sydney.

So there was a lovely sense of community about it all. As one visitor from Lismore said to me: “It’s great to see a few city folks here. Some of them need a wake-up call!” But before I could retort “nonsense – wake up and smell the latte!” he was gone. Perhaps I’ll see him again at Tropical Fruits for New Years.

I rose early on Sunday for Barefoot Bowls and Brekkie, held at the Park Beach Bowling Club, a venue which was proudly flying several rainbow flags upside down all weekend. Most of the participants had never played bowls before… or at least it seemed that way.

Fair Day was next. I love Fair Days and it was a hot one. There were camels. Beat that, Mardi Gras!

Bob Downe was the emcee on stage. He’s such a cutie and so tasty. Just like this Bob Downe cupcake I found.

All too soon it was Sunday evening and there was just one final CoastOut event to send us on our way. Folks nervously realised was their last chance to talk to that intriguing guy or girl they’d been eyeing up all weekend from afar.

The Splash Dance Party Finale again filled the marquee on Park Beach Reserve, with the amazing Dallas Delaforce treating us to a show that blew the audience away and almost blew her away back to Sydney.

It had been a wild three days of sun, sand, surf and spot-on party entertainment. Festival director Todd Buttery said he’d listened to feedback from the two previous years’ CoastOuts and made sure all the events had different flavours, even when located in the same park spot. He tells Same Same he’s happy with the turnout and feedback, and will soon decide on the shape of next year’s festival. It may be similar, or completely different, he teases.

“I’d love to do it all again as I think it does still have the capacity to grow,” Todd adds. “This year had a fantastic energy and magic all weekend.”

We’ll keep you informed as CoastOut 2013 takes shape. In the meantime, we warmly recommend visiting the Coffs Coast at any time of year. You might even see a Big Banana!

Find out more about visiting Coffs on

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GavinP said on the 1st Nov, 2012

I think i will go visit cafe aqua. :)