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    Rift at 60 Years of Wimmera Rock.

Horsham rock festival ideas resurface


Leaders behind major throwback retro rock ’n’ roll music festivals in Horsham believe they have established a template for live-music events in the Wimmera in 2021 and beyond.   

A year has passed since a heavily patronised and successful 60 Years of Wimmera Rock music festival in early February 2020, just a month before the global COVID-19 pandemic caused nation-wide lockdowns.

The event also represented a 10-year anniversary of a similarly successful 50 Years of Wimmera Rock.

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Last year’s showcase involved a tried and tested format from the 2009 50 Years of Wimmera Rock event that reunited former Wimmera bands, introduced contemporary acts and captured thousands of festival-goes from across the region. 

But organiser Lynton Brown said the 2020 event left bands, organisers and music lovers alike hungry for more and left people questioning, ‘what’s next?’

Mr Brown said although the question remained unanswered, he did not rule out the possibility of another event occurring sooner than 10 years.   

He said it would take fresh volunteer interest to step up to the challenge and lead the direction for future festivals or concerts of a similar size and style. 

“The people who originally got the ball rolling for this event, including myself, Malcom Schier and Dave McMaster, are all getting older,” he said. 

“Going forward we need fresh, young blood who want to take over and volunteer to make these sorts of events live on.”

Mr Brown said he would be keen to explore possibilities of running the event again within five years or a smaller event even sooner. 

“I know a lot of the bands want to do something sooner rather than later,” he said. 

“When we’re ready again, we’ll call out and see if there’s enough interest – we might do something in two or three years, but it might be something smaller based solely at Horsham Soundshell.”

Volunteer commitment

Mr Brown said last year’s event required several years of extensive planning, where a volunteer committee helped organise more than 50 bands to play over three days across several venues. 

Some band members and support crews travelled from across Australia and beyond to gather for the reunion event. 

“We also have to consider all the bands played for free for both events and we still have to hire PA and the venues. Last year a Horsham Town Hall team came on board and looked after a lot of the logistics involved,” Mr Brown said. 

“It took about three years in planning before we could run the 50 Years of Wimmera Rock event 10 years ago. 

“That included everything from coming up with the idea, to researching and refining the different bands, looking back over the bands from the ’60s and seeing whether they would reform for the event.” 

Horsham Rural City Council, which works closely with event organisers in providing key elements of the event such as the town hall, is reviewing its role in providing support for organisers.   

Mayor Robyn Gulline said large events such as the rock festival provided major socio-economic benefits for the Wimmera and it would be crucial for the council to continue providing its support. 

“This is not only in terms of support provided to volunteer organisations from council staff, but also finances provided based on the benefits of the event being undertaken to the region,” she said. 

“They bring the community together to meet socially and to spend their money in the community.”  

Cr Gulline acknowledged the continuation of these events would be entirely reliant on ‘countless’ volunteer hours. 

“Many hours are provided by volunteers, not only in running the event on the day but also in relation to event administration,” she said.

“Many community events rely on volunteers and these events would not be sustainable without them.” 

Cr Gulline said the event, which showcased artists across various genres including pub-rock, folk and bush-dance and easy-listening, was a prime opportunity to celebrate the Wimmera’s unique music culture. 

“These events are critical – it is an opportunity to showcase the talents in the Wimmera,” she said.

“It creates greater awareness and can be an inspiration for others.” 


PHOTOS: VIDEO: 60 Years of Wimmera Rock Saturday night


PHOTOS: 60 Years of Wimmera Rock Friday night


The entire February 10, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!