New Beginnings for GTM Canberra: Exhibition Park New Home Following Location Change
Popular Australian music festival, Groovin The Moo (otherwise known as GTM) has had a shakeup to the Canberra leg of the tour in 2019. For the first time since the festival came to the ACT in 2010, Groovin The Moo has moved away from its beloved home at the University of Canberra fields and has relocated to Exhibition Park in Mitchell.
How did the big move go down and which Canberra location is better suited for Groovin The Moo? I investigated to find out.
The location change to Exhibition Park in Mitchell is not far away from its former location at the University of Canberra in Belconnen. It’s only an 11-minute drive, perfect for the university students attending. Both locations are situated in the Northside of Canberra, which means a longer commute for those living in Canberra’s south.
The University of Canberra playing fields have been the home of GTM Canberra for the past nine years and has been a very popular and well-received facility.
Map of University of Canberra
Map of Exhibition Park showgrounds
The Exhibition Park showgrounds are one of Canberra’s premier event spots and is host to some of the biggest annual events on the local calendar.
The new layout at Exhibition Park is one of the aspects that I found most jarring about GTM Canberra 2019. When in attendance at GTM Canberra 2019 on Sunday, April 28th, it felt like Exhibition Park had a bigger plot than it did previously at the University of Canberra. The layout of the festival’s stages, food stalls, bars and toilets simply didn’t make sense. The main stages, Triple J and Cattleyard, were situated too close to the secondary stage, Moolin Rouge, and encountered sound issues. As an all-ages event, the festival organisers are required to section off an 18+ area for patrons to purchase and consume alcohol in, which keeps the underage punters separated by fences and security points. While this is legally required I and many others thought the 18+ area was indeed too large this year compared to last year at the University of Canberra (see 2019 GTM map above and 2018 GTM map below to see comparisons). While you can still view the main stages and secondary stage from the 18+ area, it reduced space in the mosh section in the regular area which caused congestion and pushing. A number of patrons were trampled and injured during the Hilltop Hoods set around 6:45pm due to a crowd crush, forcing the performance to be paused while performers pleaded with punters to step back from the stage to allow paramedics to access those injured. Various other popular sets throughout the day, such as Billie Eilish, had similar congestion. Finally, the third stage, The Plot, was out of the way, requiring a long walk and search to find it, and once you got there the size and aurora of the stage felt underwhelming.
In something that was very positive and efficient at Exhibition Park was the short lines and wait-times for almost all facilities throughout the day. Lines for entry to the festival, food trucks, bars, toilets, cloakroom and merchandise were all very quick. This is an aspect that has improved greatly since previous festivals held at the University of Canberra which proved to have a lack of facilities.
Due to the main stage and secondary stage being too close together there was a very annoying sound clash between the two stages at various stages throughout the day. This could be particularly noticed later on in the evening when standing in the crowd for Hilltop Hoods set and hearing Sofi Tukker’s songs blaring in the background, distracting and taking away from the performance on the main stage. Fisher’s and Billie Eilish’s sets also clashed with sound, however, this could be more to do with the fact that Fisher plays hard electronic music while Billie Eilish’s music is relatively softer. Past events held at the University of Canberra didn’t have this problem at all because all three stages were appropriately separated away from each other.
This is one area that Exhibition Park’s large area dealt with extremely well. There was ample parking space in its massive car parking lot outside the festival walls, just like as it was at the University of Canberra. However, one area where Exhibition Park excelled at was public transport. With the new addition of Canberra’s lightrail, it made a very effective and economical way to get to and from the festival grounds. Also, Exhibition Park had a well-designated area for bus, Taxi and Uber pickup, making it very easy to and stress-free to start and end the day. The University of Canberra didn’s have the same access to lightrail or as well designed taxi and Uber pickup points, so this is one area which made Exhibition Park a bit easier to navigate.
Reason for Location Change?
While it is only rumoured, it is believed Groovin The Moo had to move to Exhibition Park and away from the University of Canberra as the University did not support the trial of the highly controversial pill-testing on its grounds. Therefore, the festival had to be moved to land owned by the ACT Government to conduct only the second ever festival pill-testing service in Australian history.
Check out a recap of the day’s highlights below:
As someone who has been going to GTM consecutively for the past four years, I can say as a whole that I miss the original venue at the University of Canberra. Although the new location, Exhibition Park, has some benefits it just doesn’t feel like the festival’s spiritual home. Exhibition Park will more than likely be a permanent fixture when the touring Groovin The Moo festival visits Canberra for years to come, but in my eyes, it doesn’t beat the nostalgia and memories that the University of Canberra fields hold for so many Canberran’s and for those travelling from the local small towns. Personally, I would like the venue to be changed back for next year’s edition of GTM Canberra, however, it looks like it’s time to move on and embrace the change.