With the announcement from the Victorian government that the current lockdown will be extended beyond thursday September 2, the organising committee have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 Backcountry Festival at Mount Hotham. Given the extended COVID-19 restrictions, we have no option but to cancel.

We have set the dates for next year – September 2, 3 and 4, back at Mt Hotham.

We are, of course, deeply disappointed to have to make this decision. A huge amount of effort goes into planning events like this and it has been especially hard with a constantly changing situation with lockdowns. Many businesses and individuals have come on board to back the event and we thank the Mt Hotham community for the support and good will they have offered the festival.

We have to say a huge thank you to the people behind the scenes who have worked so hard on the 2021 festival:

  • Simon Murray from Mountain Safety Collective, the VBCF tours would not be on the program without this man. Please go buy a membership and support MSC: https://mountainsafetycollective.org
  • All the volunteers who have put their hand up to be a tour guide and/or tailguides
  • All the volunteer speakers and moderators
  • All the volunteers who offered to bump-in bump-out the outdoor bar and speakers program
  • Head of ski patrol Bill Barker who worked with Simon on tour terrain safety
  • Dave, Pieta and Luka from Alpine Access Australia, who were running the avalanche safety courses
  • Rolf and the MSC crew who worked so hard to get the Avalanche Training Centre up and running
  • The General, who have been champions through this process and are our home base on the mountain – please grab a meal / drink next time you’re at Hotham
  • Hotham Lift Co, especially David Vincent, and Katie Bowker, Kerry Kondraschek and everyone at the resort management board
  • Alpine Shire, who provided a grant to run the festival via the Bushfire Recovery Community Events grant program
  • Buff Farnell and Steve Curtain, who did all the audio visual setup at the Genny
  • Mitch and Fraser Lorkin – the outdoor bar coordination team
  • Greg the groomer for help with prep for the outdoor bar
  • Nicole Paton and Daniel Sherwin who did all the website and registration design work
  • Evie Nowicka from Social Evie Communications for producing and publishing our Facebook and Instagram content
  • Local businesses who have supported festival: Jack Frost, Traverse Hotham, Tirol Sports, Alpine Nature Experiences, Bright Brewery, All Terrain BBQ, Crepe Collective, Everest Sports, Let’s Split, Hoys, Snow Monkey
  • National business partners: Protect Our Winters, Wild Magazine, Burton, Arcteryx, Patagonia
  • Simon Murray also did a lot of our festival design work, including our mascot Barry the Mountain Pygmy Possum
  • Chris Hocking, who provided images, and Lachlan Short whose photos from 2019 appeared in a lot of our promotions
  • Last but not least the event committee: Brendan Sydes, Cam Walker, Peter Campbell (repping Bush Search and Rescue), Peter Robinson, Simon Murray (repping MSC), Tim Scott
  • And a huge vote of thanks to Anne Chiew, who was the festival convenor, and did an amazing job co-ordinating the ever moving dynamics of a large event in a time of lockdowns.

What’s next

We remain enthusiastic about preparing for next year and are currently looking into offering a simple online event this weekend – make sure you follow the Backcountry Festival Facebook page to learn about details as they are released..

This winter has been hard for everyone, especially the mountain and valley businesses that have had another shortened season. We hope that, if possible, you can transfer your bookings with on mountain accommodation you may have booked to next year rather than seeking a refund.

For people who have registered for the festival, we will be in touch soon.

For the tour guide/tail guide volunteers, Simon Murray will contact you separately in the coming days. 

This continues to be a 100% volunteer run event, by the community for the community. Volunteering with us is a great opportunity to make new friends and join a group of like-minded individuals who want to help out and support the backcountry community. Our call out for event or tour volunteers is always open and you can apply by contacting anne@backcountry-festival.com

In the meantime, we hope you can keep your spirit strong. These are hard times but we will get through it. The mountains will still be there when this is over.

Check the festival website here for more details.