Bo Haldane is a magician. Or might as well be. The Garden of Unearthly Delights site manager, crew boss, logistics guy, and build supervisor makes things happen. His duties don’t stop with the Garden. His swathe of annual events includes Splendour in the Grass (NSW), Dark Mofo (TAS), and Boogie Festival (VIC). He also recently worked on an Elton John concert in Mackay and Cairns. He does it all without bending time or space. Magician.
“You’re setting up an environment for people to enter where they might see things they’ve never seen before,” the Melbourne-based festival guru says. “If you believe in the event it makes it all worth it,”
Bo, the ‘everything guy’, manages the creation of festival sites: from festoon hanging to bar keg connection. Arriving just after Australia Day and leaving in March, he lives and breathes Adelaide festival season. “I’m there from when the first blade of grass gets touched. We draw up plans, go through operations and schedules, and talk about how we’re going to bring everything together.”
Bo manages his own bar Pineapple Brothers during festival time, too. “After working at the Garden for years and years without getting a juice, I thought I’d start a juice bar. We did pineapples the first year, and then we served rum the next… it went from a joke to quite a significant affair, now with coconut, watermelons, and pineapples.”
While rum-filled coconuts and show tents sound like fun, it’s also hard yakka. “I work about 10 to 12 hours a day flat out for three weeks, then as soon as the doors open, I run down to my pineapple shop and keep working. I have about two days off in two months.”
What fuels him? Unwavering passion and the light at the end of the tunnel. “The beautiful thing about the industry is knowing that there’s a start date and an end date. Knowing you can see the end is really important. If you were working in that environment full time, you just couldn’t do it. I also live on gyoza and pineapple juice.”
It’s been a wild ride. Tasmanian-born Bo has worked in the circus, dabbled in film and television and tried everything in between, including three years as head mechanist of a theatre in Melbourne, and circus and cabaret shows in the UK.
Bo spent some of his childhood in Adelaide and coming back is like exploring old memory boxes. “Adelaide is a great city to move around in – great food, great bars… I love gong to Pink Moon Saloon for some cocktails. I always spend a lot of time jumping off the jetty at Henley Beach, going up into the Hills… I love seeing a bit of the outside of the city.”
Sometimes, there’s just no place like home. “Honestly, I look forward to those times of doing absolutely nothing and getting away from people sometimes. Usually when I start to get homesick, I just want to drink tea in the garden and watch my veggies grow.”