July 29, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

The ACT Government is launching a new festival as it looks to position Canberra as Australia’s arts capital, while Victoria is expecting thousands of people to descend on Torquay for the Great Ocean Road Volleyfest this December, Northam outside Perth will host two hot air ballooning events in 2023 and free masks will be on offer at Brisbane’s agricultural show, Ekka, next month.

Innovation in Canberra

Canberra’s winter innovation festival will bring together creative thinkers and innovators to tease out new ideas to grow the arts and culture sectors and position them – and Canberra more broadly – as an international destination for the arts.

According to the ACT’s arts, culture and creative policy for 2022 to 2026, the festival will also provide “an ‘only in Canberra’ experience” for locals and visitors and act as a testing ground for new arts and culture events and projects which may become the base for a stand-alone arts expo.

The territory government also intends the festival to catalyse collaboration between artists and creatives, arts organisations, higher education institutions, researchers and business.

Beach volleyball in Victoria

The Victorian state government has just announced the Great Ocean Road Beach Volleyfest 2022 will take place over 12 days from November 23 in Torquay on the state’s Surf Coast.

The event will include Victorian stops on both the Volleyball World Pro Beach Tour and the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour. Around 450 competitors from around the world – and their sporting entourages – are expecting to take part in the events, with thousands of visitors anticipated, providing a tourism boost for the area prior to the summer peak.

“With the start of the green and gold runway towards the 2026 Commonwealth Games, we are thrilled to be attracting more international events to Victoria to provide not only our athletes with the chance to compete on home soil but also offer fans the chance to experience the best our sport has to offer,” said Volleyball Australia CEO Andrew Dee.

Both events are being delivered by Volleyball Australia with support from the state government.

Hot air ballooning in Western Australia

Northam, just under 100km outside Perth, will host both Australian and international hot air ballooning events in 2023.

In May 2023, the 23rd Australian National Ballooning Championships will take place in Northam, followed by the Women’s World Hot Air Ballooning Championships in September.

Northam has held the Australian championships several times before and was originally scheduled to host the 2023 event in 2021 and then 2022, but the pandemic and travel restrictions into WA caused the event to be postponed twice.

Both events are being supported by Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program and are expected to draw a combined total of more than 29,000 visitors to Northam, injecting $3 million into the local economy.

“Northam is known for being a top hot air ballooning destination – and for good reason, with the town’s weather conditions being ideal for such events,” said WA Tourism Minister Roger Cook.

“These championship competitions will further cement the Avon Valley’s reputation, and are sure to provide colourful displays that will delight those travelling to the region.”

Masks encouraged at Ekka in Brisbane

In the nearer future, Queensland’s health minister is encouraging those heading to Brisbane’s major agricultural show in early August to wear masks.

Free masks will also be handed out at the event.

“We want Ekka visitors to enjoy this year’s show safely and experience all it has to offer – Australia’s best livestock, produce, food, fashion and fireworks,” said Health Minister Yvette D’Ath.

“The last thing we want when the Ekka returns is to see showgoers having to spend the next week in isolation with COVID-19 or influenza.

“With the pandemic now in its third wave, we can’t rely on vaccination alone – it’s crucial that showgoers take precautions to stay safe at the show.

“We know that masks can play an important role protecting Ekka visitors.

“We’re encouraging all Ekka-goers this year to mask up, not only for themselves, but for everyone visiting Queensland’s biggest show.”

With 70 per cent of the show outdoors, organisers of the event, the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland, will encourage attendees to wear masks in the indoor pavilions at the event.

The show takes place at the Brisbane Showgrounds from August 6 to 14.