Somewhere over the Rangebow, way up high, the hinterland is celebrating with more than a lullaby!

by Victoria Mcguin

The Rangebow Festival is coming to the hinterland in August, and the Range is abuzz with activity and anticipation about this four-day event full of community activities across multiple sites. 

The brainchild of Wayne Parcell, this not-for-profit festival is all about four main themes: diversity, inclusiveness, sustainability and reconciliation.

But how did this all begin? I met with Wayne at St Mary’s Church in Montville for a chat, a cosy place of peace, bathed in warm colourful light through stained glass windows. “I chose this venue because St Mary’s is supporting us, which shows the depth and scope of the festival – it goes to a spiritual level,” said Wayne.

“They can see we are including everyone – there are no labels or acronyms with this festival, we don’t need them.”

Wayne is an immigration lawyer by profession, but clearly has a passion for creating positive change in his community. 

“I come from Brisbane, and I’ve lived in Melbourne, Sydney, Jakarta and Canberra, but I always wanted to come back to Queensland, and here in particular. In 2005 I built a house in Montville where I live with my husband Brett, near Baroon Pocket Dam.”

Wayne and Brett have known each other for 25 years and have been married for a year. “We lived next door to each other in Sydney!” Wayne said with a smile, “Brett managed the intensive care service at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and he’s now the program manager of the Australian Sepsis Network, so he’s very busy and commutes a great deal.

“He’s also helped with the risk management and logistics for the festival, and he keeps me grounded, bringing me back to centre when I’m veering off.”

In 2021 Wayne successfully managed the revamping of the Montville Tennis Club, as club president, supported by Brett as club secretary and a hard-working committee; with donations from across the community, the council and the state government. After such a success, he found people were asking what he would do next.

“I had people suggesting I run a Mardi Gras parade in Montville,” he laughed. “Then a friend of mine, Chris, said we could put together a festival, as a Mardi Gras within that would have context.

“I realised we would need to come up with a theme, otherwise it’s a bit meaningless. I wanted people to be able to join a party that everyone wanted to go to, where the events had their own personality, but I knew it had to have a real purpose, so I decided to create a charity to run it, with support from the Montville Village Association.

“This way it is coming from the right place and the profits are going back into the community.”

The organisation has been phenomenal, with artists, businesses and community all donating their time, ideas and money to the festival. 

“I believe that our community ethos is why we have got as far as we have, with no government funding. Even Mayor Mark Jamieson said, ‘how on earth are you doing this without any funds?’

“The broad support keeps it moving and over the line. We also had generous personal donations from Andrew Powell MP and Councillor Winston Johnston.

“We also have a very supportive sponsor, Sunshine & Sons. In fact, at our Pageant of Pineapple Queens and Bunya Kings, we have a special guest appearance from the Sunshine Sisters, brought to you by Sunshine & Sons. They are incredibly glamorous and such fun!”

I asked if Wayne ever felt the pressure from organising such a big event. “I have a great team with me, they are the scaffolding that keeps me up,” he admitted.

“But essentially, you have to settle yourself, take a deep breath and do one thing at a time. Keep your focus and don’t lose your sense of purpose.”

“It can become overwhelming, so it’s good to have the right people around you.”

Wayne’s aim is to bring a sense of belonging, fun, expression and creativity to all the events across the hinterland.

“The towns keep their personalities, but they work together. This is why The Rangebow Festival is so special, it keeps us inter-connected, and the added bonus is that it supports our wider hinterland community.”

To find out more about the Rangebow Festival, check out the HT Creative Cuts pages this month, and visit therangebowfestival.org for detailed information on all the events.

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