The Great Perth Bush Doof

By Conrad Charles Maclean

Deep in the wilderness outside of Perth, far from any telephone reception or loathsome routine, adults rave beneath the stars wearing animal onesies and tutus. A Bush Doof is in progress.

A Doof is a public outdoor dance party. They’re common in Europe and they can be commercially run or operated at a financial loss for the love of a good party.

Tonight’s Doof is in a clearing surrounded by dense bushland. Dream catchers and tight rope wires hang between the trees. This Doof has several techno dance floors and an acoustic area.

Essentially adults come to these Doofs to play with each other like children, which is tremendously healthy. Alongside the dance floor Doofers twirl Devil sticks and Poi balls. They hula-hoop and spin fire-staffs for hours on end. Most stay up all night by camp fire light doing LSD, MDMA and bud. Doofing is nothing if not modern Bohemianism.

Beside the dance area somebody’s hung a huge net between several trees; like a hammock. It’s big enough for people to jump around in, but somebody’s lighter falls through the net onto the ground below. His mates have to crawl over to his end of the net so that the whole thing can sag low enough for him to reach out and pick it up. There’s also a cabbage being tossed around the net like a volley ball.

How to get fucked up while consuming your daily dose of vitamins. Photo by: Conrad Maclean
How to get fucked up while consuming your daily dose of vitamins.
Photo by: Conrad Maclean

Back packers have flavoured this melting pot and many of the Doofers don’t speak English as a first language. French boys run around with Bubble wrap cones on their heads. A Dutchman shimmies over to me on the dance floor. He paints the Dutch flag on my face with what looks like eye liner. Mostly the Doofers are Germans, Italians and Scandinavians, but there are a few Gaelic speakers.

Most non-commercial Doofs are run on public land for liability reasons. There have been Doofs held on private property. Word is one was crashed by Bikies. It didn’t end well and the land owner was liable.

There’s a general consensus that a level of anonymity preserves a healthy non-commercial Doof culture. Thus the location of a non-commercial Doof is not announced until the day it’s held, and you only get invited by somebody who you know is going.

This means people only invite friends they trust, people who they know won’t start trouble. Also because it’s not publicly advertised it doesn’t get mobbed with people. There are only about 400 at tonight’s Doof, anything bigger would cause trouble.

One Doofer describes it to me like this “Five out of ten, or six out of ten people are dickheads. The more people rock up, the more dick heads.”

Editor’s Note: This piece is non-fiction, because Conrad’s life is generally more exciting than the average person’s.

Majority elected without a fight at last election

Almost three quarters of Murdoch University’s student politicians were elected unopposed last year, while the total vote count dwindled to just 720, according to data provided by the Returning Officer.

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19 out of 26 filled positions went uncontested in 2014, the highest since 2011. This includes all 5 Guild Council Officers; Clubs Officer Brodie Skalko, Events Officer Alyssa Chow, Social Justice Officer Rhys Marjoram, Sports Officer Daniel McLerie and Sustainability Officer Troy Treeby.

METIOR understands that while Guild Council Representatives and the MISA [Murdoch International Student Association] position also went uncontested, their respective collectives normally hold closed-door elections and have been chosen by the group they represent before reaching the polls.

Vote count at four-year low

The total number of votes for 2014 was just 720, an 85% drop from the count of the hotly contested 2011 elections where Bec Thompson won the Guild Presidency.

It is important to note that this does not mean 720 students voted in 2014, as one student may vote in more than one ballot. For example, a student could have voted in the Guild President, Education Vice President and General Secretary ballots, amassing 3 total votes.

“A student could be eligible to vote across all ballots, or someone could only want to vote for Guild President. We have no idea,” Returning Officer at the University Registrar’s Office Trudi McGlade says.

According to her, actual voter turnout remains confidential and is hard to identify because of the nature of the online voting system.

“It’s all anonymous… it’s all calculated in the background of the system,” McGlade says.

Empty spots

After the elections process, 20 of the 46 available positions remained vacant in 2014, a pattern similar to previous years.

Murdoch University restructuring in 2012 slimmed down the number of slots from 65 to 32, and this has stabilised to 46. There are 25 spots within the Guild and 21 in the University Committees.

From the data, spots on University Committees are most likely to remain vacant, especially within school boards. Students who sit on school boards have influence over the unit and course structure of their respective school among other responsibilities.

Except in 2012 when the position was not available, the undergraduate representative for the School of Law board has been contested and filled.

Student election nominations open today, August 31, and will close in 2 weeks on September 14.