May 20, 2019

The Tipi experience at Bluesfest — one of a kind. We chat with Ray Brown, the owner of Rainbow Tipi!

Ever considered staying in a Tipi…at Bluesfest? Wondered if it’s for you, for your family?

We caught up with Ray Brown, owner of Rainbow Tipis and provider of Tipis at Bluesfest – he shares with us why the Tipi experience is a family-friendly, comfortable and social environment for all patrons.

Ray can you share with us why the Rainbow Tipi experience is one-of-a-kind at Bluesfest and quintessentially Byron Bay?

Rainbow Tipis aims to add that something special to the Blues experience. Comfortable Tipis with good head room allow guests to kick off their boots and stretch out their legs. We provide a healthy-family atmosphere that is open and inclusive to all guests. There’s the option to chill out at the Marquee and simply relax with a book, meet new friends with like-minded musical tastes or chat with old friends, play a guitar, a game of cards or try a board game while you sip our 24 hr Famous Rainbow Tipi Chai Tea.

Our Chai is synonymous to the feel of the friendly / family style, Byron Bay is renowned for. We started brewing Chai at the local markets over 25 years ago, with the iconic Rainbow Tipi as the Tea House. The vibe remains the same and the hospitable hosts will do everything in their power to ensure guests can relax and recover, and have a restful good night’s sleep.

Our aim is to provide a genuine space where every guest is allowed to feel as though they belong to the whole Tipi village tribe. To create a feeling of community where everyone matters and is appreciated. Kids are welcome and creativity is encouraged. We provide play things where young and old can meet and try their hand at poi, frisbee, devil sticks, hoola hoops and more….much more.

Can you tell us about the Rainbow Tipi precinct at Bluesfest – what is provided vs what patrons need to bring and what to expect from this style of accommodation?


Of course. The Tipi village is set at the back of a quiet field close to the South Entrance of the Festival, an easy 3 minute stroll. The Tipis surround a large covered area that is set with low coffee tables and laid back canvas sling chairs. Next to this chill area is another covered area where we have a staff kitchen that can provide hot water for tea or coffee (bring your own or receive via donation). We also have fruit and Easter eggs for the kids, alongside the insulated 25 litre Chai Pot.

There’s plenty of water to refill your bottles and a barbecue hot plate is available, if you want to bring over your own snags, bacon and eggs to whip up your own recovery style breakfast. Wash up facilities provided although we request you bring your own cutlery, plates and bowls.

We provide a fitted tarp floor with a single stretcher-bed, a 40 mm cotton covered mattress on top ensures comfort and warmth. Also a solar light and a bedside stool that you can use to remove or put on your shoes. The stool doubles up as a small bedside table that you can put your phone or personal items on when resting. Each bed comes with a cotton covered pillow although it is requested that guests bring their personal sleeping bag or doona / blanket (complete bedding sets are available) – guests have found the stretcher beds to be more than adequate and invariably provide consistent comfort for the duration.

Steaming hot showers are provided for campers in our field and are serviced regularly and have a good track record. Car parking is available beside the Tipi village (although guests won’t be able bring their car in if they elect to do some driving around the shire during the festival).

What are the tipis made from?

Our Tipis are based on the traditional Sioux style and are made of a 100 % cotton canvas.

Any tips for our Happy Campers to pimp out their Tipis…?

Happy Campers are encouraged to bring any personal items to add to their Tipi encampment. Small fold out tables and chairs, an eski, (ice available on site, close by) personal drinks and snacks. Perhaps some solar fairy lights to hang inside on the poles or wrap around the Tipi to guide you home, or even a piece of material to hang as a marker.

All Tipis are individually numbered however guests are welcome to make it their own. Space around the tipis is limited and gazeboes are not encouraged, though may be tolerated if communicated. It will only be possible with advance warning and if space permits.

Oh and don’t forget a torch!

Can you share your knowledge regarding the origins of the Tipi and why they are a popular accommodation option at festivals?

The Tipis are a direct connection back to the traditional ways of the Native Aboriginals of the Americas. The Plains Indians perfected the art of Tipi living and maintained a close relationship with spirit, land, and community thru the simplistic yet practical nature of the tipi and the shelter it provided. Primarily its function was to be portable, quick to erect and dismantle, enabling them to follow the seasons and the buffalo. Also to be sturdy, to protect from the wind and the snow, be able to breathe, to allow a fire, essential to the spirit and body thru the cold winters and to cook on.

The Tipi was quintessential to the way of life of the proud, fierce and loving members of the many different tribes of the day.

In the modern world, they are a pathway to the roots of a spiritual connection with oneself and your environment. They evoke a connection to freedom and simplicity that often evades us in our busy western lives. A portal to the ways of old, where lives were at the mercy of the elements and our ability to adapt to them. This the plains Indians managed in a holistic and masterful way.

Perhaps in some way, we all seek a taste of this in our current consumerist lifestyles.

And lastly, can you share where is the most exotic place you have set up or stayed in a Tipi…

Yes sure. Well my Tipi journey started in Nth East Victoria in 1989. I made my first one and travelled up the East Coast to Cairns, stopping and pitching as we felt. From there it was to the red centre to encamp in the desert between Uluru and Kata Juta. There a vision of a life path with the tipi came to me and I headed to the hills behind Byron to hone the skills necessary to live in, and make tipis. It was at this time I met my wife Bronwyn.

For three years we survived in the Whian Whian Forest thru the heavy rains of the early nineties where some adaptations were developed to cope with the humidity and rainfall.

Thru the nineties my wife Bronny and I worked the markets and local festivals with the Tipi and Chai stall however slowly the demands on the Tipis and other structures I made took over and we passed on the catering element of our business so that we could focus on the accommodation and hire of these wonderful structures.

In 2001 I visited Montanna and spent six weeks on the crow reservation where Chief Heywood Bigday and his family welcomed me and taught me some of their ways.

It was here in their country, under their spirit, that the true power and connection that the tipi holds in their tradition and history, was revealed to me.

I stand humbly and graciously before the great spirit for the gifts and graces that my walk with the tipi has bestowed upon me, and I hope in some way I can share that with the people that chose to stay with us in the Rainbow Tipi Camp.

For more information on booking your Tipi at Bluesfest 2017, visit our Camping page here. Tipis are snapped up quickly every year!