Nate Byrne talks ChillOut Festival 2023: ‘It’s become a part of me’


Nate Byrne and Molly Meldrum

Australia’s favourite meteorologist, Nate Byrne, sat down with QNews to discuss the magical experience of being an ambassador for ChillOut Festival – Australia’s number one queer country pride festival.

The festival is returning next year to Daylesford – the gay capital of regional Victoria.

As we eagerly await it, Nate reflects on his previous experiences.

“My first ever ChillOut was actually just a couple of years ago. I’d heard about this amazing festival and popped out there on my own.

“I was there for about three seconds before the first person said hello to me, and then a couple hours later I was just completely surrounded by new friends. It was just really, really wonderful.”

Highlights of ChillOut 2022

Nate’s first experience was so memorable that ChillOut invited him back for a second year – this time as an honorary guest.  

“Last year, because I was an ambassador, I sort of had an open ticket to go check everything out.

“So I did, and then I ran around like a maniac because there was just so much on trying to get my head into absolutely everything. It was tricky, but I managed as much as humanly possible.

“There were so many highlights. The parade was ridiculously fun. Then there were also parties in the evening – it was so fun to dance outside.” 

Nurturing queer youth

But at the heart of ChillOut, as with most pride events, is the significance of a much more meaningful purpose – providing a safe space to celebrate and cultivate queerness, for all ages.

“There was an event called Youth Sound Shell, which I thought was pretty awesome.

“We got to see some really cool kids just paving the way for the future and speaking with such strength and determination for the continued search for more equality and making sure that the community is looked after. It was just really heart-warming.”

This opportunity to platform the voices of queer youth is made all the more important through the setting of ChillOut, the regional, rural community of Daylesford.

“So often for gay people, the city has been the place that you run away to for safety and protection. It’s amazing to see that there’s now a regional town that looks after not only it’s queer community, but the queer youth also, so openly and with so much love.”

Back to the bush

So what is it, exactly, that sets ChillOut apart from other Pride celebrations? Well for the community of Daylesford, their embracement of the queer community isn’t just for a week or for a month – it’s all year ‘round.

“ChillOut definitely feels warmer, more intimate and much more community based.

“I mean, all pride events are aiming to help build and support the queer community, but Daylesford has a much a different vibe, because the entire town gets on board.

“And not just for ChillOut, the entire town is always a very queer-friendly place. But especially during ChillOut, there’s such a party vibe that is still relaxed in a way that you don’t quite get in the city.

“You could turn up in sequins and feathers or in your stubbies and thongs and you’d just be just as equally welcomed regardless.”

Nate Byrne flexing next to a cow

Nate Byrne’s forecast for festival season in 2023

Despite the enduring legacy of ChillOut, however, the recent trend of extreme weather posing increasingly difficult challenges for festival organisers has been confronting for ChillOut-goers.

Nate’s advice? Remain optimistic, yet cautious.

“Anytime we want to do anything outside, weather is something we’ve increasingly got to keep an eye on, especially right now.

“El Nino has been really hammering the country generally, but the regional areas in particular have been disproportionately affected.

“So you’ve got to keep an eye on the situation and all indications point to the warming climate, of course, but that’s going to turn into increased severe weather.

“The times that we want to be outside and partying and having festivals you know, Summer, Spring and Autumn.

“They’re increasingly becoming a time to survive. So it’s hard to thrive in that situation and certainly something that we’ll have to be monitoring more and more closely as the years continue.”

But just as the patrons will be forced to adapt to these new challenges, so too will the festivals.

“It doesn’t mean that you can’t have, like some festivals where the weather is going to be absolutely stunning. Absolutely. You can and you will. It’s just that you have to keep an eye out for when the weather is gonna turn.” 

ChillOut Festival 2023

There’s no better way to bookend your WorldPride festivities than with a weekend of sitting back and chilling out, right? Nate Byrne thinks so!

“I am definitely going to need to ‘chill out’ after those three hectic weeks.

“I’ll be working that whole time, so I can’t wait to actually get to sit down and enjoy a bit of queer pride.

“I’ll be hosting a bunch of things and having heaps of fun at the Bush Dance.

“This year was such an incredible experience, so I can’t see a future where I don’t do ChillOut from now on. It’s definitely stamped itself on my soul.

“I feel like I’ve become a part of it. And it’s certainly become a part of me.”

To find out more about ChillOut and book your tickets to the 2023 Festival, check out ChillOutFestival.com.au

For the latest lesbiangaybisexualtransgenderintersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.

Nate Woodall

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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