When I was invited on a camping trip with the UNSW Outdoors Club, I thought it would be a 10 person ordeal around a campfire with a guitar. We would go climbing and hiking and maybe swimming, and at the end of the day decompress and joke around. Three days before the camping trip, I was added to a Facebook event page called Dam Cliffs Doof, with about 100 other people. It was at that point that I realized a doof is a party in the woods with no one around. It’s chaos, and it’s supposedly a lot of fun.
The trip leaders organized a weekend of insanity. For a day, I scrambled to find a ride to the Blue Mountains, and messaged just about everyone in the Facebook group. I finally found one, and then managed to borrow a tent from a friend. Everything came together, albeit very last-minute. On Saturday morning, I took an hour train from Sydney Central to Pymble, where my friend Kate was waiting with her car. There were five of us, and we somehow managed to cram all of our camping gear into the tiny “boot.” On our way to the cliffs, we stopped at an IGA and I bought some hummus, carrots, pickles, popcorn, and salami. And "goon" (boxed wine), of course. We loaded back into the car, our laps piled high with groceries and miscellaneous camping gimmicks, and set off to the doof. When we arrived, people had already rigged a zipline across the river. It was a 10m drop into the water and was quite freaky looking. There were many other activities, and we jumped off the cliff with our climbing shoes so that we could climb back to the top and fall off into the water (hopefully unharmed).
Exhausted from hours of adrenaline rush, my friend Emma and I set up camp around 4:00 and went back to the cliffs to do some watercolor painting and chit-chatting. We watched some horrendously executed backflips and tomfoolery. Eventually, everyone went back up to the fire and ate dinner. I had my lovely dried salami and hummus and carrot, while some people went all out and put cast-iron skillets in the fire to concoct delicious camping meals.
The group was an eclectic mix of lots of Aussies, some Brits, the French, Spanish, German, and American exchange students, amongst others. The exec members also rented a generator and had a DJ friend mix music in a little shaded tent. This made for an absolutely wild night, with some people not going to bed until 5 AM. The next morning I got up around 9 and went down to the water. Francois, Sam, and Tulli were re-tightening the zipline, so I helped them out and we realized it was going to be a whole new level of craziness. I offered to go first because I was desperate to get back into the water and figured that dropping 10m off a newly tensioned zipline would be the most entertaining way to go. I sent it off the cliff and plunged into the icy water, it felt amazing. I swam out to the other side and did some yoga in the hot morning sun, then sat with a group of others and watched all the zipline fails. The group that drove me out was headed off, but I ended up getting a ride with Sam and Gina, who were leaving much later and I figured I’d have fun if I stayed a while longer. We didn’t leave until around 4:00, and I was sandwiched in the backseat between another guy and the generator. We all had a hilarious time the whole way back and learned a lot (maybe too much) about each other.
I think this trip was the first time since being in Sydney that I really felt like I had made some long-lasting Aussie friendships, and it was simply lovely. My first ever bush doof was an absolute success and I would recommend that anyone who gets invited to one makes it happen.
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Stella is currently a mechanical engineering student at the University of Colorado Boulder, where her goal is to always have at least one foot out of her comfort zone. When she is not on the engineering grind, she is passionate about playing guitar, backpacking, climbing, dancing, or really anything that will get her outside and soaking up the sunshine. Being raised in a French/English bilingual household, she grew up with an appreciation for other cultures and traveling. As she continues on her journey toward adulthood, she hopes to keep experiencing the unfamiliar and become an increasingly global citizen.