Important Announcement: Garma 2021 Cancelled

31 May 2021

It is with enormous regret and sadness that we advise this year’s Garma Festival will not proceed. 

For the past 6 months, the Yothu Yindi Foundation has worked extremely hard in partnership with the relevant authorities to plan a COVID-safe event for our guests and our communities. We have thrown all our energy into establishing an environment that would meet with the approval of the Northern Territory’s Chief Health Officer. 

This has included making arrangements for all interstate attendees to be tested upon arrival in Arnhem Land, and providing a 24-hour COVID clinic on site, staffed by the National Critical Care & Trauma Response Centre. Organisers were confident that these and other safety measures were rigorous enough to all but eliminate the public health risk associated with staging the event. 

Unfortunately, the NT’s Chief Health Officer has determined that Gulkula’s remote location poses too many logistical and safety challenges in the unlikely event of a COVID incident, such as the difficulty of evacuating people from the site, and the unsuitability of quarantine facilities in northeast Arnhem Land.  

Keeping the region COVID-free has always been YYF’s number one priority, so we accept the CHO’s decision, which also highlights the logistical and infrastructure challenges that exist in relation to any COVID outbreak in the remote Aboriginal world. 

Garma is a cherished event on the Yolngu calendar and the cancellation of this year’s event is a big blow to the local community in many ways. 

The event is a source of enormous pride and satisfaction to Yolngu people, and each year Garma injects up to $13 million into the Northern Territory economy, about $5 million of which lands in Nhulunbuy and surrounding communities. The economic loss to local Territory businesses and Yolngu people will be significant again this year. 

We are shattered to have to share this news with you. 

Our administrative team are managing the process for ticket-holder refunds, and ask for your patience while they make these arrangements. 


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