When COVID hit Delila started backpacking around her own country. She eventually discovered the joy of the ‘bush doof’ – how it can feed your soul, reconnect you with nature and make you whole again.


It’s 1am and I’m standing on the side of the road, under a star-splattered sky, with my thumb out.

‘We have to find it!’ Gem says, squinting at the Google Map coordinates for the billionth time through a lacquered gaze.

The streets are empty, except for the occasional night rat that saunters along the bitumen. Night rat. I remember hearing the term during my university days and it kind of stuck. My friend told me that there are two types of people at college: the night rats and the day rats.

The day rats can be found basking in the sun, working on their assessments, an iced latte in hand. Their afternoons consist of social sports, or walks along the riverbanks. The night rats are far less productive during the day, usually hibernating and recovering from a sleepless night.

As the dusk descends, the night rats come out to play. Either to finish that assessment due the next day – with the fuel of ten coffees that kept them wired all night – or more commonly, to find a party.

I knew a party.

But I’d never experienced a bush doof until, COVID chaos led me to explore entertainment options closer to home.

I started backpacking within my own country. I still remember the thrill of my first doof: driving through the middle of the night in an Uber with nothing but a vague pair of coordinates that had been passed on from a friend of a friend.

Arriving at an unknown location, getting out of the Uber, with no phone reception and thinking, ‘Hell, where on Earth are we?’. Walking for miles under the guide of our iPhone torches, through river beds, thigh-high grass, and crisscrossed branches.

Hearing the first sounds of music pulsing through the trees and spotting a speck of light in the distance.


Doof is Food Spelled Backwards, Delila Pema


The euphoria surrounding that speck of light expanded to eventually reveal trees wrapped in a mismatch of coloured fairy lights, and, in front of a dimly lit crowd, a DJ deck housing a gangly guy wearing a Hawaiian button-up shirt (unbuttoned) and a pair of red triangular glasses.

I’ve since discovered that Australia is renowned for its bush doofs. Once you’ve been to your first – and are initiated into the secret ‘doof’ society – you’re forever in the loop, and they become easy to sniff out.

Rumours of doofs circulate like seagulls hovering for chips. Someone will hear whispers of one of these infamous bush raves, then the next finds out, and before you know it, it’s the talk of the town.

So, what’s the hoo-hah about?

Doof is food spelled backwards, and for the die-hard doofers this certainly rings true; Doofs nourish their soul. It’s the time of the week when they can let go of everything, feel the beat pulsating through their veins and allow themselves to get lost in the music.

I’ve come to realise that what makes these events so special is the feeling of connection they instigate: connection to nature, to your body, and to other beings.

Connection to Nature

There’s nothing more beautiful than standing under the moon, feeling the effervescent beat vibrating around you and the night air enveloping you in a hug.

At a bush doof, you’re fully connected to the elements; you feel the gentle breath of wind on your skin, witness the trees swaying in the sky above, and are guided by the light of the moon. If you’ve done it right, you’re awake to welcome the rousing of the sun.

And if you’re lucky and close to the sea, you can strip off your layers in the morning and dive headfirst into the ocean.


Doof is Food Spelled Backwards, Delila Pema

Connection to Your Body

It’s truly liberating to dance in the dark, when you feel unwatched and can surrender wholeheartedly to the music. You’re essentially exercising and calorie-burning, without even noticing. You aren’t caught up in the way you look or in impressing anyone. You’re simply being and flowing to your own rhythm.


Doof is Food Spelled Backwards, Delila Pema

Connection to Other Beings and the World

What a feeling it is to dance in the dark, turn to your side and see other people in the half light, their grins pinned against the dark sky. If I were to tell you that it’s been during some of the best bush doofs that I’ve felt most connected to the world around me, you’d probably call me crazy. But it’s true.

Dancing has this undeniable way of uniting people. No matter what walk of life you’re from, or what language you speak, dancing is a form of silent communication that brings us together.


Doof is Food Spelled Backwards, Delila Pema


So, are you ready to attend your first bush doof? Here are a few tips and tricks to survive one of these parties. I’ll save you from learning them the hard way!

Tips to Survive Your First Doof

Tip 1: There won’t be any water – I repeat there will not be ANY water!

There’s nothing worse than that sickening feeling in the pit of your stomach when you finally arrive at one of these parties, only to realise you have no hydration on hand.

They’re often remote and difficult to get to, and, sorry to break it to you, but there’ll be no store around the corner to buy a bottle of water.

Do yourself a favour and bring one with you and keep it on hand. If you’re taking your own car, bring a few extra litres, enough to share if someone else is running low. Future you (and your new mates) will love you for it.


Tip 2: If you can, come prepared to sleep

I’m one of the lucky ones who has a station wagon. I can set up a mattress in the back of the car and know that I have it as an option if I suddenly feel weary.


Doof is Food Spelled Backwards, Delila Pema


Sleeping on the beach is nice in theory, but tell that to yourself at five in the morning when the sun is peeking through the clouds and you’re more than ready to get a couple of zs.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!

Chuck in an extra bottle of water, a spare pair of clothes, and since we’re at it, even a toothbrush! Not only will you wake up feeling mildly refreshed, but you’ll also have the beauty of an easy lift home the next day.


Tip 3: Don’t go to the doof if you have a commitment in the morning

After a doof, there’s a chance you won’t return home until the following afternoon. Especially if you don’t have your own ride back.

Out in the wilderness, these doofs are usually difficult to access, so finding a ride home can prove to be challenging. But don’t be alarmed. Have faith, you’ll find your way eventually and there’ll be many people in the same position.

There’s beauty in the next morning when you can chat with people and reminisce on the night before. But these languid morning chats are only nice if you’re relaxed on time.

It’s not a great feeling having no reception and knowing you have to be at work in approximately…half an hour!


Tip 4: You’re actually an AMAZING dancer! (Or maybe it’s just dark?)

Either way, please leave any feelings of self-consciousness at the door – or should I say, at the bush entrance – because people are barely going to see you, they’re too wrapped up in their own dancing. This night is all about feeling free.

What are you waiting for? Get doofing friend!


Feature image thanks to @francescovicenzi

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