Festival Places: Revitalising Rural Australia

Rural Cultural Research Project

A good number of CRN researchers participating in the Rural Cultural Research program have interests in rural festivals. This became a clear interest on which work towards an edited book collection at the Bega planning workshop.

The intention is for CRN researchers to come together to present written papers along with other key (non-CRN) researchers in Australia under the auspices of a working up a book collection. It is to be held in December, likely at the University of Sydney. The workshop will be an invitation-only event, and will have a very clear intention to produce a book/edited collection as the main outcome.

Several relevant researchers have already been contacted in this regard, including David Carter, Rob Edwards (David’s PhD student working on Gympie), Kate Darian-Smith, John Connell, George Curry, Robbie Begg, Chris Gibson, Gordon Waitt, Michelle Duffy and Andrew Gorman-Murray.


Venue: All sessions will be held in Geography Conference Room, Room 474, First Floor Madsen Building, University of Sydney (Camperdown Campus). For directions, please go to the following site, which will take you to a campus map of the University of Sydney. The Madsen Building is right in the middle of grid L17. The Building is just off City Road, so hopefully it won’t be too hard to find if you are walking up from Mercure Sydney.

Map of the Site

Program of the Day: The program comprises 21 presentations, broken into four paper sessions of five presentations each (six in the last session). Because the program is quite full, each speaker will have 15 minutes for their presentation. Paper sessions are 1.5 hours, which includes 15 minutes at the end of the session for questions and general discussion. There will also be a final session for general discussion on festivals and change in rural Australia.

9 – 10:30 Session 1: General issues: understanding the context and impact of rural festivals (Chair: Matthew Rofe)

  1. Chris Gibson ( University of Wollongong) and Jim Walmsley ( University of New England) “ Not so ephemeral: the extent and significance of rural festivals in Australia”
  2. John Connell (University of Sydney) and Gordon Waitt (University of Wollongong) “Holdens, harvests, hoedowns, harmonicas, handicrafts, and heaven: the social dimensions of regional festivals in Australia”
  3. Patricia Tindall (Sinclair Knight Merz) “Economic benefits of rural festivals: a question of scale?”
  4. Amanda Davies (University of Western Australia) “Organising festivals and local leadership: considering the socio-economic impacts of rural festivals”
  5. Colleen Wong (Waverley Council) “Environmental impacts of festivals: ecological footprints and the case of Splendour”

10:30 – 10:45 Morning tea

10:45 – 12:15 Session 2: Rural festivals and questions of belonging and resilience (Chair: Kate Darian-Smith)

  1. Ros Derrett (Southern Cross University) “How festivals nourish community resilience”
  2. Jo MacKellar (Southern Cross University) “Regional festivals as catalysts for business networking and innovation”
  3. Michelle Duffy ( University of Melbourne) “Rural festivals and processes of belonging”
  4. Lisa Slater (Globalism Institute, RMIT) “Beds were burning: Mapoon Day and Cape York Indigenous Festivals”
  5. Peter Phipps (Globalism Institute, RMIT) “The practical application of symbolic reconciliation: the Garma Festival, north east Arnhem Land”

12:15 – 1 Lunch

1 – 2:30 Session 3: Festivals and rural cultural change: insights from cultural histories and geographies (Chair: Ros Derrett)

  1. Kate Darian-Smith ( University of Melbourne) “Histories of rural festivals in Australia”
  2. Andrea Lemon (University of Melbourne and the Victorian Arts Centre) “Family circuses in rural Australia: belonging and survival”
  3. Bec Carland and Kerry Wilson (Museum Victoria) Women on Farms Gathering – Insights into Rural Women’s Experiences”
  4. Elaine Stratford and Andrew Harwood (University of Tasmania) “Observations on the geographies of governance in the Ten Days on the Island festival”
  5. George Curry (Curtin University), Niels Fold (University of Copenhagen), Roy Jones* (Curtin University) and John Selwood (University of Winnipeg) “Rural change, rural identities and rural representations: ‘markets’ and rural cultural change on Western Australia's South Coast” (* Presenter)

2:30 – 2:45 Afternoon tea

2:45 – 4:30 Session 4: Case studies of rural festivals and festival places (Chair: Roy Jones)

  1. Chris Brennan-Horley (University of Wollongong) and John Connell University of Sydney) “ The Parkes Elvis Revival Festival: economic development and contested place identities in rural Australia”
  2. Brad Ruting and Jen Li ( University of Sydney) “Tartan, kilts and bagpipes: Cultural identity and community creation at the Bundanoon is Brigadoon Scottish festival”
  3. Gordon Waitt and Andrew Gorman-Murray ( University of Wollongong) “ChillOut: a festival ‘out’ in the country”
  4. Rebecca Curtis (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) “Australia's Capital of Jazz? The creation of music and place at the Wangaratta Jazz Festival”
  5. Rob Edwards (University of Queensland) “Gympie, creating a festival town: historical context and meaning of cultural events from flower shows to the Country Music Muster”
  6. Matthew Rofe and Hilary Winchester (University of South Australia) From Santa to Serial Killers: the fickle hand of fate in rural place making opportunities”

4:30 – 5:30 Session 5:Festivals and change in rural Australia: general discussion of themes from the day (Chair: Jim Walmsley)