We chat to the festival director of Dogapalooza, Melbourne’s ‘Coachella for Dogs’

We chat to the festival director of Dogapalooza, Melbourne’s ‘Coachella for Dogs’


In case you were unaware, 2018 is the year of the dog – specifically, the Earth Dog, which hosts the characteristics of communication, seriousness and responsibility. As it so happens, this year of the dog is also hosting 2018’s Dogapalooza.

Self-described as the “Coachella for dogs”, Dogapalooza is the only pupper-friendly music festival in Australia at the moment. Festival Director, Abby Gee, laments the time when pups couldn’t enjoy their very own festival.

“The concept originally stemmed from an Adelaide Fringe event conceived by Cal Williams Jr., and I got involved with securing the artwork design. I rolled up my sleeves for some onsite help and then offered to run Dogapalooza Melbourne, the sister festival for Oscar’s Law the next year.”

That was four years ago, and the vibes are still going strong; Oscar’s Law, an organisation set on banning puppy farms in Victoria, is still one of the main beneficiaries of the event. However, Dogapalooza has now amassed six dog-oriented beneficiaries, as well as another seven non-doggo ones.

“Oscar’s Law selects the dog rescue groups, and these remain the same each year,” says Gee. “Many actually take rescued dogs that have been saved by Oscar’s Law raids, so it makes sense that we continue to support them financially.”

The Dogapalooza Facebook page boasts over ten thousand likes, and the online event page already has over three thousand people interested. This interest doesn’t stop at the punters; Gee explains that artists are not just chosen based on their talents, but also on their attitudes towards fair treatment of our furry friends.

“The key element is that the artist loves dogs and respects the beneficiaries we raise cash for. While we pay artists out of principle, we can’t pay them what they’re worth so their hearts need to be in it.

“Hayden Calnin and Bec Sandridge were a yes from day one, and represent the musical diversity of our attendees. Some booking agents are also especially kind to us, which makes life infinitely easier.”

The charity aspects of the festival are a huge drawcard and a high standard to set for other festivals, on both a local and national scale. However, Dogapalooza is not just a day to raise funds for puppers in need; the day is filled with treats for doggos and humans alike, and is tailored towards creating an atmosphere of chilled tunes and great vibes.

“It’s a very friendly, non-pretentious, low maintenance event. Much like Splendour, some people dress their dog to the nines, some dress their pup for the fun factor only, and others go in effortless comfy park wear.”

Aside from the lineup and hoards of dogs, there will be food trucks and beer purveyors slinging their goods to keep you going throughout the day.

“We have a few new vendors [this year], but when we announced Hamsa Hummus and Woking Amazing, people online behaved like we’d announced a headliner. Literally, they lit up our socials.”

As if that wasn’t enough, senior Buddhist H.E. Zimo’g Rinpoche of Nalandra Australia/AIVBI will also be there to bless the puppers on the day.

“[They] will be conducting special dog blessings at the Dog Temple for the souls of our sweet doggos. The blessings encourage the health, longevity and release from suffering of our beloved floofs.”

Gee may be the captain steering this adorable ship, but she’s only human. When asked about the main attractions to the event, she didn’t miss a beat.

“Hayden Calnin and Bec Sandridge are obvious must-sees … but I think the introduction of our Dogs Cops issuing excessive cuteness penalties may just be the best job ever created.”