A popular outback Queensland music event is racing against the clock with a quarter of ticket holders caught up in Victoria’s latest COVID crisis.

Key points:

  • Birdsville’s Big Red Bash will go ahead on July 6–8
  • If the Queensland border remains closed to Victoria, Victorian ticket holders will be able to defer their tickets to 2022 or 2023
  • The ticket reissuing is expected to cost organisers $1.2 million

About 2,500 of the 10,000 limited tickets for this year’s Big Red Bash at Birdsville are held by Victorians who may be unable to get to the event if state borders remain closed after July 1. 

Big Red Bash organisers have vowed to reissue tickets for the coming years for any Victorians unable to make the July 6-8 outback tourism event at a cost of $1.2 million in future ticket sales – but some ticket holders want a refund, which isn’t on offer.

Mr Donovan said a lot of impacted ticket holders would have bought their tickets in 2019 for last year’s cancelled event.

He said the event will be going ahead as planned, and anyone unable to attend due to border restrictions would be offered replacement tickets for either 2022 or 2023, but no refunds would be offered this year.

“Obviously if you’re cancelling your event you have to offer a refund and that’s what we did [last year],” he said.

“We sell tickets to collect money to put the event on and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

A bagpipe player stands silhouetted at sunset in the desert.

The Big Red Bash is one of Queensland’s most popular outback tourism events. (

ABC News: Nathan Morris

)

Mr Donovan said the loss in ongoing ticket sales would amount to about $1.2 million over the next two years. 

Refund preferred by ticket holder

Karen Hocking, from Waterford Park, 60km north of Melbourne, said she and her husband had tickets for last year’s bash and when given the choice then of a refund or deferring to this year, they chose to defer.

But now that they don’t know whether they can go this year, she said she would prefer a refund — which is now not on offer.

A woman sits in front of a bus with cliffs behind her.

Karen Hocking and her partner from Waterford Park recently spent $4,000 on their bus preparing to go to the Big Red Bash. (

Supplied: Karen Hocking

)

“It’s up in the air — it honestly doesn’t look like we’ll be going as the borders are shut,” Ms Hocking said.

“Now they’re not offering a refund, they just want you to roll the tickets over again for either 2022 or 2023.

Hope for border opening

Sue Muirhead from Langwarrin in Melbourne said she and her partner had been to the bash three times and she hoped to make it again this year.

A dusty road with caravans parked.

Sue Muirhead took this photo from their camp at the Big Red Bash in 2018.(

Supplied: Sue Muirhead

)

“For us because we’re a little bit okay with time, we can afford to plan a little bit earlier to try and get into a closer area.

“If the borders open on the first it would be a dash to get from Victoria to Queensland.” 

Ms Muirhead said if they did get to Queensland, they would be staying put.

“We’re not going back,” she laughed.

The Big Red Bash event site is 35km from Birdsville, Queensland, which has a population of about 115.

During the Big Red Bash, the population swells to over 10,000.

2,500 Victorians had planned to travel to Qld for this outback event — so what happens now?
Source:
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