Beechworth Returns to Harrietville

by | 11 Mar, 2011 | 12 comments

1st National Bluegrass Convention becomes the 23rd Harrietville Convention.

News just in today reveals that a week ago, the music festival planned for the La Trobe University in Beechworth has had to be relocated to its original venue in Harrietville

La Trobe University in Beechworth has informed organisers that the Beechworth campus would be closing in May 2011. As a result, the 1st National (23rd Harrietville) Bluegrass & Traditional Country Music Convention cannot be held at Beechworth as planned.

Organisers have negotiated a return to Harrietville for the convention. The community hall and grounds have been booked and the Convention will take place there on 17-20 November 2011.

More information will be available in the near future.

Organisers have encouraged us to start booking our accommodation – check out


  1. Lachlan Davidson

    I do understand how work is involved in running an event of this size. One of the main issues is their is no conformity on the vision of the Convention committee and the Australian Bluegrass supporter.
    We have many differing bluegrass supporters in Australia. When we first atteneded Harrietville it was mostly built up of Musicians/performing bluegrass supprters as well as regular familiar faces. These days we have seen it grow to the point that the ratio of Bluegrass fans has out-grown the amount of musicians that attend. Their are many positives in this which include increased revenue for the event, but also decreased the amount of space.
    The past few times I have attended we pay our own way in organising our band to come along, it is the only free show we have them do all year, which the punter does not realise. The main reason we used to go was to jam endlessly and meet up with so many fellow musicians from all over the country, but now due to changes in venues and major growth their is less opportunity and space to get that music buzz off stage, so to us it has turned into a tour appearance rather than a casual music weekend.
    The past two years I have just taken my swag and not organised my own accomodation, I figure I don’t sleep much when we’re there anyway

  2. Ken McMaster

    As I understand it, one of the main problems since the loss of Feathertop has been accomodation for overseas guests close to the festival site. Booking Cas Bak overcomes this.
    As for :”pondering the change back”, how bloody rediculous. If Latrobe closes Beechworth, it can’t be held there. I would have thought this was self evident.
    And I can’t believe the small-minded insults levelled at people who work bloody hard to keep the Covention going. I don’t think I know you, Dave, but please don’t bother coming to the Fiddler’s Conventions, I couldn’t stand more rudeness – doubtless,you would find something to complain about. Why not organise something yourself- I’m sure everything would be perfect.

    That said (phew), I am sorry for the people that always stayed at Cas Bak. I appreciate that the alternatives are doubtless mainly more expensive. There are houses available- get a group together and it would probably be the same.

    • Ken McMaster

      Oh yes, I forgot. Only two of the organisers will be at Cas Bak. The others stay on site for security, in a caravan (with no showers).

    • Dave Robertson

      Ken McMaster.
      Get off your cross Ken we need the wood.


      • Ken McMaster

        Actually, I have about 10 cubic meters of wood to sell, so I guess I can stay on the cross. How much do you need?

  3. Mick Johnson

    Warning to all entering Harrietville from the North: Be very careful crossing the bridge back into town, as it was badly burnt in late Nov 2010, and requires an extensive overhaul to reinstate public confidence.

    Sadly, it appears that repairs have not commenced well……

  4. Helen Richmond

    There are two ways of looking at what has happened re Cas Bak. We have been staying there for the last 10 years and now we can longer have our room as the organisers dictated that they want the place solely for overseas and interstate artists and themselves. I appreciate they need accommodation for the overseas guests and as they seem to have managed the last few years so why come on so strong now. They could have left the long term people in their rooms and used the lodge and other rooms that are not booked each year.

    They have to stop and think without fans who are loyal to the festival there would not be a festival, so they need to have a good look at the way they have treated people.

    I understand that there is so much organising in getting the festival up and running and that it is always a huge success but that doesn’t give them the right to dictate who sleeps where.

  5. Mike Kear

    Dave Robertson: that’s very unfair characterisation. One of the ongoing problems in the past has been the organisers getting enough accommodation for the guests and themselves. You’d have them commuting from Bright? They should tell the guests from overseas ‘sorry you’ll have to sleep in the car because we can’t get a room for you in Harrietville’ ?

    If they were booking up the town in order to onsell the bookings to the rest of us at a big profit, you might have a point. But what makes you think that’s what they’re doing?

    • Dave Robertson

      Mike Kear:
      Where exactly in my comment have I said the committee is looking to profiteer from the booking out of the Cas Bak?
      I have said that it seems underhanded and opportunistic and I will stick by that. My sentiments are joined somewhat by Helen Richmond. If I was running the Cas-Bak I would have been dismayed that I didn’t have the opportunity to contact longstanding and loyal customers and offer them their cabins back. Those “loyal fans” who have managed to secure their old accommodation will no doubt look upon my comments as “Hard luck and that’s the way it goes”. However, people like myself might just say “I’ll travel 1000kms each way and spend my money on something else instead of the Harrietville festival,with someone who gives a damn.” If you want the respect and patronage of people, hard work is not always the total answer. You also have to treat people as if they matter. Mike, I suggest you stand back a pace or two and look at the situation from the perspective of the audience and patrons Perhaps the committee could have done something differently.


      • Ken McMaster

        I spoke to Judy about the Casbak booking last week at the Fiddlers. People should be aware that Casbak were asked by Judy to contact people who had booked there in the past so that they had an opportunity to have first chance to book elsewhere. And this was done, prior to the announcement of the move back to Harrietville.

        On a lighter note, is it usually bluegrassers who argue and complain regularly? We oldtimers spend our days full of love, baking cakes to send to each other!

  6. Margot Hitchcock

    Thanks Greg for posting and to Pete Fidler on facebook for letting us know. Julie and I have just booked our last rooms at Snowline Motel.. phew otherwise we would have missed out.. yes hard to find somewhere to stay if you’re not in the know.. frustrating Dave I can understand your feelings…but that’s the way it goes unfortunately….

  7. Dave Robertson

    I have not attended Harrietville convention for a few years but a few of my friends are regular attendees and I can only imagine their ponderings at this change in venue back to Harrietville itself. They are probably going to lose at least part of their deposit for accommodation at Beechworth and then have to try and find digs back in Harrietville. To rub salt into the wound the organisers seem to have at the very least, been very opportunistic in booking out all of the units at the Cas Bak for the next 5 years. These very units where some Fans had long standing bookings and looked forward to staying every year. I once looked forward to going to Harrietville and my ears pricked up at the announcement that Audie Blaylock was returning to the venue. Now I just sit and ponder wether I would support a seemingly underhanded, oppotunistic organising committee, no matter how committed and hard working they are. Their hard work, often thankless as it may be, has in my opinion foundered. Justify it how they like I think it smells.

    Dave Robertson