One of the extraordinary things I’ve observed about the WordPress community in Australia is that it’s more than just a group of people connected around this awesome software, they’re actually a great big collection of friends.
I would love to travel a bit more to other WP communities around the world just to see if what we have really is unique. I hope it isn’t, I’d love to think there are other groups of WP users out there who get as much fun out of just hanging out over beers and pizza as they do listening to WordPress talks and organising meetups and WordCamps.
A pretty powerful demonstration of this collective appreciation for each other happened a weekend or two back on Philip Island, Victoria where 11 or so WordPress geeks, actually representing 3 states in AU, gathered together for what essentially amounted to a WordPress house party.
I know, right? You’re either sitting there thinking “OMG why wasn’t I there?” or “WTF? You guys are weird!”
For three nights, from Friday through to Monday morning we took over this amazing luxury house on Phillip Island, about 135km (85 miles) from Melbourne and spent the weekend eating, drinking, hanging out, sleeping (well, a bit) and yes, even occasionally coding!
(Yes, totally aware the weekend was a Mac Fest.. not a single Windows machine in sight!!)
The cool thing about hanging about in a smaller group like this is not just the fact you get to know and appreciate each other just that much better, but you get to work on stuff you may not usually set aside time for, and even potentially collaborate on stuff with other people you might one day have dreamed of working with.
The weekend went really well, we all came away from it hanging out for the next one, so clearly it was long enough to be worthwhile and not so long that we got sick of each other! I think in some ways the number of participants was about perfect. Big enough that it felt great being in a sizeable group, small enough that you got to talk to/spend time with everyone individually at some point.
A few of the participants came prepared with short presentations which was fantastic. I have to confess, I wasn’t nearly that organised but Chris B showed us a hundred cool things he’s come across in his internet travels, Anthony H showed us a list of things not to do when crafting a theme, and Aaron R showed us the hoops he makes Elliot Condon’s Advanced Custom Fields plugin jump through (pretty gnarly stuff).
The boys did a great job with the budget, so we’d enough cash in the kitty to go down the road to the local pub/restaurant on Saturday night, Pete Wilson and I cooked up the most wicked roast pork dinner on the Sunday night, so between that and the BYO ‘refreshments’ we’d each contributed you could say the weekend was rather… festive.
I don’t know about you, but I hope your WordPress community would be as excited as ours to do something like this, so I highly recommend it! Gosh, if for no other reason than hanging with a group of people who all love the same geeky stuff and don’t look at each other weird when you get all squeeeetastic about a plugin you’ve found or the number of sales you got this week on your theme!
If there was one thing I’d do differently is maybe extend it by one more day. We’d have loved to get more into contributing to core, and Ryan and Dion were primed to give those of us less experienced with core contributing a brief demo of what’s involved with a view to some of us getting involved on that level, but somehow we ran out of time… The thing is we were just too busy relaxing, which hey, was pretty valuable in and of itself. So without wanting to schedule things more tightly I guess next time we’ll plan for that a bit more of that. But when all is said and done it was a brilliant weekend and I’m dying to hang out with them all again at the next one!! (But until then… meetups!).
Kudos to James Collins and Aaron Rutley for organising it and to all the gang who came!
See you at the next one!!
The Low Down
What Was it? BeachPress – a WordPress house-party
When Was it? August 16-18th 2013
Where Was it? Lady Nelson Retreat, Rhyll, Phillip Is. Vic
How much did it cost? $250pp, BYO Alcohol
The house was really good value as it was the off-season… no way it would have been affordable in the summer or when the MotoGP was on!
If you’re thinking of you’d like to organise a #beachpress or similar and want pointers or ideas, don’t hesitate to touch base. We’d love to hear about this happening all over the place!