The first time Kate Ceberano performed live, she took to the stage and belted out Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limits.
"I knew what would turn the people on and it was Tina Turner," the Australian singing sensation recalled.
Invoking the primal and heady sound of the rock 'n' roll icon was a rite of passage for Ceberano, who was in the grips of young love and was still waiting for her first kiss.
"I was raised on a diet of T. Rex, Tina Turner, Prince and David Bowie ... just all senses on fire," she told AAP.
"That's what music should do."
Four decades on, Ceberano will pay tribute to Turner, who died in May, alongside artists like Grace Knight and Wendy Matthews at next month's Birdsville Big Red Bash, on the edge of the Simpson Desert.
The singer-songwriter has reached a reflective point in her career, having farewelled friends Olivia Newton-John and Renee Geyer not long after the COVID-19 pandemic made her stop to consider the connective power of music.
The Bash, set in Queensland's shimmering red outback plains more than 1000km from the nearest capital city, is the ultimate symbol of renewed freedom and joy, she said.
"(There's) that complete radius of earth and sky, you've got equal measure - there's nothing freer than that feeling.
"People are coming in droves as if it's a kind of mecca for them to come to the middle of nowhere and experience ... earth and sky and the stars above you."
Billed as the most remote music festival in the world, the 2023 Bash will mark its 10th anniversary when the music starts on July 4, featuring artists like Icehouse, Hoodoo Gurus and The Waifs.
The seemingly impossible event takes more than a year of planning as fuel, water, generators and sets are trucked across several states and thousands of kilometres of rural roads.
The small town of 110 briefly balloons to 10,000 and the only pub in town, the Birdsville Hotel, expects to serve 400 meals each night over the three-day event.
The festival started from scratch as an ultra marathon in the desert to raise money for childhood diabetes research, with a performance from country singer John Williamson atop the Big Red sand dune.
It has evolved into a pilgrimage for nomadic travellers who come for the whirlwind of live music, drag shows, movie nights, comedy sets, dog dress-ups and epic sunsets.
"It's a bit of a miracle, really," the festival's founder Greg Donovan said.
"A lot of people try to start festivals and they're notoriously hard to get going and make sustainable.
"We're out in the middle of nowhere, so maybe it's a testament to Australians' sense of adventure and travel that a festival like this can actually work."
His son Steve Donovan, the operations manager, vividly remembers the festival's first iteration.
"I ran the ultra marathon - so that was 250km - and afterwards John Williamson was on top of Big Red and I went up there and did ticketing," he said, with a laugh.
"I sat up there with a trestle table and took everyone's tickets, so it's quite a different event."
The Bash stays true to its origins by linking with charities each year.
It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Royal Flying Doctor Service since 2016 by holding ticketed world record attempts for the most people dancing the Nutbush.
Revellers set a new record of 4084 dancers last year, blitzing the 2021 gong of 2878.
Organisers hope more people will get into swing of things with two record attempts this year: the "largest human image of a country", to raise money for childhood diabetes research, and another mass Nutbush to support the aeromedical service.
The flying doctors will also take competition winners up and over the Bash for a rare recreational flight on a Beechcraft King Air.
Senior base pilot Nick Tully, who joined the flying doctors because it saved his brother and father after serious farm accidents, said the 95-year old service was synonymous with outback Australia.
"I've spent a few lonely nights waiting for the plane to land and there's no lonelier feeling than waiting with a loved one and knowing the nearest hospital is 500km away.
"We always thought of them as sky gods, we thought they could walk on water."
The festival runs from July 4 to 6 and the Mundi Mundi Bash, near Broken Hill, kicks off on August 17.
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.