‘Hilton by the Peel’ reveals real spirit of festival

STEVE Stewart and his mates wouldn’t miss the Tamworth Country Music Festival for the world.

In fact, it’s moments like being squashed together in a makeshift pool, ukuleles in hand, that keeps them coming back.

“We count down the months, not the days until festival,” Mr Stewart said.

“We leave our wives at home, who are only too happy to get rid of us for nine days, and we come up here to have some quiet time.”

Mr Stewart and about 20 of his mates have been coming back to the same camping spot at the Riverside Sporting Complex for more than a decade, seduced by the river views, familiar faces and breathtaking sunsets.

“We absolutely love it here,” Mr Stewart said of the campsite they have affectionately dubbed the Hilton by the Peel.

“We see the same lot of campers at the same spot every year.”

But prime location aside, the Sydney-sider admits it is the camaraderie and the music during the annual get-together he enjoys the most.

“I reckon some of the best entertainment can be found at the campsite,” he said.

“With all of us here, we have a good time without having to go to town.

“We’ve got our own little set up and other campers come over to have a session every now and again.”

And once his time is up, the Hilton by the Peel is never far from Mr Stewart’s mind.

“Quite often I’ll be driving around Sydney in winter and wonder what it would be like down by the river,” he said.

“No doubt it would be nice and quiet and peaceful.”

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