The shows must go on … events back on the agenda

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Scarecrows are socially distanced for grey nomads
The scarecrows will be socially distanced.

The Covid-19 pandemic has swung a wrecking ball through the long list of Outback events that typically attract hordes of excited grey nomads, as well as boosting rural economies … and morale.

Since March, one iconic show after another has bitten the proverbial red dust. Everything from camel races and agricultural shows to theatre productions and indigenous festivals have been cancelled. For those who have now been able to return to the open road, the decimated events calendar has left a gaping hole in once jam-packed Big Lap itineraries.

Perhaps nothing summed up the reality of the new travelling landscape more graphically than the cancellation of what should have been the 138th running of the Birdsville Races. The tiny Queensland community normally sees its population swell to more than 8,000 during the first weekend of September … but this year the horses didn’t run, and the hordes never descended.

Amidst the events carnage though, there are the first slight hints of better times ahead. As Victoria brings its Covid-19 outbreaks under control and the others states and territories continue to enjoy low infection numbers, one or two events are actually happening.

In Winton, the 7th annual Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival recently became the first large-scale event to proceed in Outback Queensland this year. Originally scheduled for June, the delayed nine-day event was held in line with the industry framework Covid-safe events.

Festival Director Mark Melrose says the festival brough life, colour and the best of the Australian film industry to Winton at a time many tourism providers are struggling.

“There is no better time to support locals and plan an adventure in our own backyard,” he said.

And a little further north, Karumba is currently hosting the Outback By The Sea Festival until October 5. The event kicked off with the official opening of the Barramundi Hatchery followed by a free concert headlined by Adam Harvey, and there will be more than a week of gourmet food stalls and workshops.

One event which naturally lends itself to social distancing is the Mary Valley Scarecrow Festival which will take place in the rolling hills behind the Sunshine Coast throughout October. Grey nomads are invited to drive around looking for the weird and wacky scarecrows which are scattered across the area’s yards and paddocks.

Only in Australia!

  • Have you missed the unique and quirky events that normally bring so much variety to the Big Lap? Comment below.
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