The Australia Day (Geelong) Committee has this week made the early decision to cancel the annual Australia Day function at Rippleside Park for the second year in a row.
Committee president Colin Anderson said the COVID situation, while improving, made it impossible to confidently plan the event.
“The free Children’s Fun and Entertainment Day at Rippleside Park held on Australia Day has been a feature on the Geelong calendar for over 60 years and it was with a great deal of sorrow that the committee took the decision to cancel the 2022 event,” Mr Anderson said.
“However the committee was left with no choice, given the uncertainty that COVID-19, particularly the Delta strain, brings.”
Event manager Ralph Patford said it didn’t make sense financially to push ahead with the event given the extra cost in complying with COVID-safe guidelines.
“The additional cost of running the event would have been well beyond the fundraising capacity of the committee,” he said.
“These costs would have included development of a COVID-safe plan, fencing the event space, establishing an online booking system for patrons, policing the COVID-safe practices of patrons, and hiring of staff for security and entry control.
“A large number of additional volunteers would have been required also.”
Australia Day committee secretary Vinko Ljubanovic said the committee was “very hopeful” of seeing the event return for Australia Day 2023.
“We are still in frequent contact with our regular participants and most of them have indicated that they will be available whenever the event comes to life again,” he said.
The Rippleside Park event is unique in that it provides free entertainment aimed at young people from the ages of three up to 16, and entirely run and organised by volunteers.
The Lions Club of Geelong Corio Bay provides most of the volunteers, along with Corio Norlane Lions Club and the Friends of Rippleside Park who help each year.
It will be the second year without the event, which can attract crowds of up to 10,000, which was also cancelled this year due to restrictions on public gathering sizes.