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Queensland regions jostle over BDO, Brisbane shrugs, sticks hands in pockets

They may be distant from one another, but that doesn’t mean competition isn’t fierce between Queensland’s coastal centres – particularly when it comes to the possibility of nabbing a major music festival.

The fallout continues on the Gold Coast following the Big Day Out’s announcement late last week that it would likely leave the region after the loss of its Parklands venue to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, with Southport councillor Dawn Crichlow telling the Gold Coast Bulletin, “The Gold Coast can't afford to lose it," and acting Gold Coast mayor Donna Gates vowing to meet with Big Day Out CEO Adam Zammit following the 2013 instalment of the festival later this month. But the Coast’s loss could be any one of the northern centres’ gain, with Cairns, Mackay, Townsville all displaying an interest in hosting the event.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning confirmed to the Cairns Post on the weekend that he would contact Big Day Out organisers, saying, “We are always open to potential opportunities such as this and will certainly make contact with the organisers to determine what would be involved in terms of a commitment from the city.” Meanwhile, Mackay Showgrounds secretary manager Steve Gaviolli has been talking up his own venue to the Daily Mercury: “The showgrounds is the ideal venue for that sort of event, being in the middle of town. It would be a great economic boost for the whole community.”

But of all the coastal centres, Townsville is perhaps the most logical. Australia’s largest urban hub north of the Sunshine Coast, the city has runs on the board hosting the Groovin’ the Moo regional festival. Mayor Jenny Hill was bullish when talking to the Bulletin, revealing that the city’s already in talks with BDO organisers: “We could run a couple of these events in the year and we would pull people from Darwin, Mount Isa, Cairns, Rockhampton and further. We have put together a package for them to show what we have available here in Townsville.”

Meanwhile, Woodfordia’s Bill Hauritz has entered the picture, floating the (not altogether illogical) idea of hosting the festival at his sprawling Sunshine Coast Hinterland site. In a report in Saturday’s Sunshine Coast Daily, Hauritz confirmed that he’d already been in discussions with BDO organisers, although he was careful to point out that it would have to be at the end of the festival’s run given the proximity in dates to the weeklong Woodford Folk Festival, which takes place over the new year.

Zammit has refused to rule out the possibility of the festival moving north, telling the Post, “We're continuing to look at all options and Far North Queensland towns like Cairns, Townsville and Mackay are all possibilities, though we wouldn't say they're proximate opportunities for us in 2014,” he said. “We believe as a business that Far North Queensland deserves and needs a big music festival and the good work done with Groovin' The Moo in Townsville has laid great groundwork and we continue to explore the opportunity of big events in Far North Queensland.”

Conspicuous by its absence from discussions is Brisbane. For two decades the Queensland capital has frequently stood in no man’s land when it comes to touring festivals and their artists, being overlooked for major events such as the Big Day Out and Splendour in the Grass, but then often judged too close to benefit from potential sideshows. The city has started to turn things around in the last ten years, hosting numerous mid-sized festivals such as Parklife, Harvest Festival and Sunset Sounds, as well as the 40,000 capacity Soundwave, but so far there’s no talk of bringing the BDO to town. For his part, Zammit poured cold water on the idea in a story in today’s Coffs Coast Advocate – in which the Northern New South Wales town is briefly mentioned as a possible home for the event – saying, “There is plenty of stuff in Brisbane already and our info tells us Brisbane is happy to travel.”

(Image via FDC) 

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