Deep in the Outback, Australia hosted its largest music festival since Covid.

Australia Puts on its Biggest Music Festival Since Covid Struck

The self-described “world’s most remote music festival” returned to Australia last week, Covid and all. The Birdsville Big Red Bash welcomed Australian rock artists to Queensland’s Simpson Desert in the Outback. Rock fans were able to get down Down Under thanks to the event’s outdoor setting and Covid protocols. 

How Did the Event Return?

Per the Daily Mail, the vast size of the festival site – 1.3 million square meters in total – allowed 6.3 square meters per person. This space allowed people to spread out when not attending music events – or to keep a greater distance if they wanted to.

Greg Donovan, the event’s founder, told Daily Mail Australia that the 2021 iteration saw the festival’s largest crowd yet. So, that space was well-used, and patrons clearly appreciated the opportunity to do something seemingly normal again. 

What Were the Covid Rules?

First, getting there proved to be a challenge. The Australian government maintains a list of “Covid hotspots,” from which travelers must quarantine upon arriving elsewhere in the country. Per the festival website, travelers who had left before their home region was declared a hotspot were allowed entry to the festival, and unlucky others could get replacement tickets for next year’s event. 

The music festival outlines other Covid rules here

  • Government rules mandated that attendees download and use Queensland’s contact tracing app.
  • Vaccines were not required, and masks were recommended – for protection from the desert dust and Covid.
  • Campsites were already spread out, queues were socially distanced, and ventilation plus some added space helped merchandise tents and concert areas operate fairly normally.
  • Organizers wiped down high contact areas and provided hand sanitizer.
  • Per the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the event also offered onsite rapid Covid tests. 

In addition to these Covid rules, the festival faced logistical challenges due to its remoteness. 

“We’ll provide most of the essentials like toilets, greywater disposal, a well-resourced medical facility, food vendors and limited firewood and ice, but that’s about it,” organizers said.

The medical facility was essential because the site says the nearest hospital and pharmacy are both over 600 km away. 

How Did it Go?

Check out these photos from Ellie Grounds of ABC.

Grounds’ article says some artists served as last minute replacements due to snags in travel, and they were a hit with fans. Grounds also highlights how children got to “sandboard” down some of the built-up desert dunes. 

A Queensland news station captures the beauty and the anomaly of a music festival in the desert during Covid.

This Daily Mail piece has some great photos of the event, too. 

Per Our World in Data, Australia is making strides in its vaccination rate. Such progress should hopefully help the country return to normal after a series of strict lockdowns. Until things return to normal, though, the Big Red Bash provided a glimpse of post-Covid life – and of what’s possible even now with careful planning.

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