Byron Bay's Splendour in the Grass is being put to shame by 11,000 hardcore punters who've descended on the Simpson Desert for Australia's most remote music festival where Oz rock reigns supreme and Birdsville Karen has found love atop a big red sand dune.
The Big Red Bash is far away from the luxurious comforts of city life. Just ask the superyacht deckhand, who made a bizarre appearance during the 1000km pilgrimage to the remote outback town ahead of this week's kick off.
Coachella can jam it. Burning Man is a Sunday school fete compared to this. Partying on weekends and public holidays is for losers. At the Big Red Bash, they party hard midweek over a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"It's kiddies, hot mummies and guys with beards who look like they belong in Wolf Creek," one punter said as day one kicked off on Tuesday with an air guitar competition.
"It's Schoolies for grey nomads."
Most of the campers made the pilgrimage over several days and drove their 4WDs more than 1000km to reach the destination for 72 hours of music set on an organic cattle farm against the world's biggest red sand dune. One might even describe it as Australia's version of America's iconic Red Rock amphitheatre.
While Red Rock was the setting for infamous concerts from U2, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, this year's Big Red Bash kicked off with '90s pop band Bachelor Girl, segued into You Am I's Tim Rogers performing an onstage striptease and ended in a Noiseworks reunion. It's a building crescendo that will explode on Thursday night with Jimmy Barnes.
Sure, The Beatles are OK. But John Lennon and Paul What's-his-face don't quite compare to Bachelor Girl's Tania Doko holding her mic out over the mosh pit as thousands of punters scream-sing the lyrics to the band's 1998 hit single Buses and Trains at 2pm on a Tuesday.
"We love Buses and Trains but when she held the mic out for us to sing, I blanked on the words and just had to yell, 'Nah-nah-buh-dah-bah-nah-nah!'" Sarah, one of several mates dressed as Where's Wally, said.
It's her third Big Red Bash and the first for the others. But even though Sarah is the veteran "basher" of the group, she's not immune to Birdsville-specific problems.
"I dropped my beer in the dirt and now, when I sip it, I'm getting crunchy grains of sand stuck in my teeth!" she yelled over the Adele remix being played by Grand Master Baits, a DJ dressed as Evel Knievel who was warming up the crowd between sets.
Holding up the mud-coated aluminium can, Sarah took a sip and then showed her gritted teeth as proof.
Sarah's sandy teeth don't come close to being the Aussiest thing to happen at the Big Red Bash. That award goes to Birdsville Karen, who married her dream man at the top of the giant sand dune.
Karen walked down the red sand aisle towards her groom, Anthony, as kids dune-surfed behind them.
Their love story started 25 years ago when they met one night at a pub. But things weren't meant to be.
"Anthony went back to his ex," Karen explained.
"We were at a friend's house. We were in bed! She wanted to talk to him. So, off he goes (to talk to the ex)."
And did he ever come back to bed?
"Nah," Anthony said.
He just jumped into the ex's car and got her to drop him off at his mum's house.
Still, Karen and Anthony's love wasn't destined for a tragic end. In what can only be described as Shakespearean, Anthony finally became so consumed with regret about ending it with Karen that he slid into her Facebook DMs 15 years later.
The romantic prose of the love letter? "What's crackin'?"
"When I got the friend request I thought, What the f*ck does he want?" Karen recalled.
Eight years on, they've only spent five days apart and now live full time on the road. Channel 10 should option the film rights to their romance and do a miniseries starring Asher Keddie and Eric Bana.
In the Big Red Bash campsite, Karen and Anthony's van is emblazoned with the phrase: "It's five o'clock somewhere!" And that's the perfect attitude to have. Spending a week deep in the Australian outback with drop toilets and no showers is not for the faint hearted. Just ask the superyacht deckhand.
"You couldn't pay me to go there," the superyacht deckhand yelled across the smokers' area of a Brisbane gay bar.
I'd made my own pilgrimage to the club on a late-night stopover in the city ahead of the next day's trip to Birdsville. The promise of a Noiseworks reunion is wonderful but sometimes you just really need to hear some Kylie Minogue.
"Have you seen those movies about the Sahara? Only 80 per cent come back alive," the deckhand continued, shooting a stream of cigarette smoke out the side of their mouth.
Their facts were a little off but it was understandable – they'd just returned from several months at sea, aboard a billionaire's superyacht. The lady of the yacht has particular tastes.
"She eats duck three times a day," the deckhand said, helpfully painting a picture of all the luxuries that wouldn't be available in the desert.
"Cheese, bread and duck. And she walks around in a Swarovski crystal-encrusted kaftan. One day, the beads started falling off – so I got the dustpan, swept them up and sold them for $15,000."
Then the deckhand stubbed out their cigarette and made a bold declaration.
"I've never been to Brisbane before, but I love it! It's Australia's Positano."
And with that logic imparted, I headed on out to Birdsville – Australia's French Riviera.