Last hurrah as music festival plays to Nukara one final time

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Minnie Marks at Nukara music festival in 2012.
Camera IconMinnie Marks at Nukara music festival in 2012. Credit: James Thompson/Supplied, James Thompson

Next month will mark the final Nukara Music Festival, the three-day Chapman Valley event featuring original artists which has run almost every year since 2005.

The idea for the festival began over a campfire at the Nanson Pub, at a semi-regular get-together young farmer Phil Blakeway had hosted at his family property Nukara.

James Thompson had been booking plenty of original bands to play at venues in Geraldton.

“Someone said ‘let’s get some bands out here’ and we started doing that and it just grew from there,” he said.

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“It started off on the back of a farm trailer, then eventually a permanent stage was built, then another one.”

Mr Blakeway, his accountant wife Donna, and Mr Thompson found they worked well together as a team and had all the necessary skills between them to present festivals drawing crowds of up to 1200.

When asked about memorable acts, Mr Thompson listed the Pierce Brothers, Mick Thomas from Weddings Parties Anything, Bob Evans from Jebediah, Matt Taylor, and overseas acts Eugene Hideaway Bridges and Swamp Thing.

Mr Thompson said they had hosted about 18 festivals since 2005, occasionally doing two in a year.

“There’s many emotions, especially since I was told a few weeks after my father died that this was going to be the last one,” Mr Thompson said.

“I think after 16 years now we’ve all grown older and need to do different things in our lives, and I feel it’s the right time to do it.”

He said they had planned to make 2020 the last Nukara Festival before COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings made it impossible.

“This year we are starting off Theona Councillor on the main stage, a local Yamatji lady singing a lot of songs in language,” Thompson said.

Councillor will be followed by Perth acts Boom! Bap! Pow! and Toby Beard, as well as Kellerberrin product Blue Shaddy.

“After that, the last act ever on the Nukara Music Festival main stage will be Tijuana Cartel from the Gold Coast,” Mr Thompson said.

“We’ve also got some other acts playing on a Friday night and a Sunday morning as well.” Tickets for the festival from April 16-18 are still available at ticketbooth.com.au.

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