A day at the beach: ‘I was in a canoe on mushrooms, with a boombox that blew up Mariah Carey’ | Life and style

My mother used to share a holiday home with her brothers and sisters down on the Mornington Peninsula. When they told us one year that they would sell it, my cousin, sister, and I so desperately wanted to keep it that we got an idea: We would start holding mini-festival parties in the summer to show them how many people loved the house. .

Every February we invited people to camp and we booked about 20 local numbers – we always tried to make these events very special. Sometimes we created interesting collaborations; other years there were stand-alone performance events.

But finally the time came: the house was put on the market. We wanted one last broadcast so we decided to hold this year’s event on the water.

We hired a violinist and trumpeter – and a group of musicians – to lead everyone down from the grass to the shore. We formed a conga line, all dancing down the street, down the steep little rocky path towards the beach, where we were greeted by a surprise.

Musician Oliver Mann was there to greet us in the water just above his knees and serenade us with opera. The water was so still that it looked like glass; one could see his reflection so perfectly. We all lay in the water – it was one of those stinking hot days – and listened to his offer.

Pop artist Banoffee, born Martha Brown, photographed in Gordons Bay, Sydney
‘Everyone started partying when night fell on … dancing on sand was an epic leg workout.’ Photo: Jessica Hromas / The Guardian

We had also timed it so well. The sun was about to set – it looked like the bay was on fire. We live in a painting, I thought. It was one of those moments where you realize how beautiful Australia is.

From there, everyone started partying as night fell. We had set up a sound system and we danced until the early hours. (Dancing on sand was, of course, an epic leg workout.)

I have snaps of memories from that party: points where slow bootleg remixes started playing and it felt like everything was going on in slow motion; lies in the boat shed with his head melted down the stairs.

People slowly peeled away and returned to the campsite, and at sunrise we were only a few left. As usual, I had left – which is something I usually do at parties – and I found myself in a canoe, high on mushrooms, with a boombox that blew up Mariah Carey.

Pop artist Banoffee, born Martha Brown, photographed in Gordons Bay, Sydney
‘The ending was so bittersweet’: Banoffee said goodbye to the beach house in a truly extravagant way. Photo: Jessica Hromas / The Guardian

I can not explain how I got into that canoe – but there I was, enjoying the bliss while another paddled out.

If I had my senses around me, I would have thought it was a little dangerous to be out at sea in a small boat. But the sun rose. My friends were at the coast. One could see all the way down to the bottom of the sand. And Touch My Body played. So there was no fear – just the safest feeling.

The day we all woke up and started to recover, we made our classic breakfast meal: just three to four packets of mi goreng for yourself filled with fried eggs and peas and butter. The meal you had when you knew you had the perfect evening.

I realized that I had managed to work so hard that my legs were tight and stiff as boards – it was worth it for the night that was.

The ending was so bittersweet. We should never have this house again; it was the last party on the side of the coast where I had spent my whole childhood.

But we had a beautiful moment, shared with everyone – a story we would tell in the years to come.

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