One year on from the devastating bushfires that wreaked havoc on the Snowy Valley, the community has found a way to heal.
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
Beginning on 28th December on the anniversary of the Dunns Road Fire, Arbour Festival will be a fifty day celebration of new possibilities with workshops, events, celebrations and experiences held in the wilderness.
The festival will take place in a forest clearing, amongst the alpine ash trees of the Bago State Forest at Pilot Hill Arboretum. It's home to more than fifty tree species from all over the world, some of them 100 years old. The Arboretum was spared when the Dunns Road Fire blazed through Batlow and surrounding towns for 50 days. The mega fire torn down 183 homes, destroyed native vegetation and took the lives of countless animals.
The festival site is right near the Sugar Pines plantation that perished in the fires. Once a grand forest, the charred remains provide a stark reminder of the loss that day. But while it's important to reflect, this festival is not about grief. It's a celebration of the locals and their creative talents. Through art, they hope to bring people back together.
In a year where nothing has been normal, this festival is certainly one of a kind. Music will be accompanied by circus acts, art installations adorn the forest for you to sit beneath and admire and the exhibitions promote the regeneration of the landscape.
Award-winning country singer Fanny Lumsden will perform alongside a curated lineup of local artists. There'll be classical music concerts, a film festival and a sunrise memorial at the Sugar Pines.
If you want to join in on the creativity, there are cultural workshops aplenty. Learn traditional Aboriginal weaving or try your hand at axe making under the tutelage of the world's oldest culture.
Want to stray a little further? Venture to the high mountain plains of Kosciuszko National Park for the Buugang Cultural experience where you'll discover the area's rich cultural heritage and take part in an Aboriginal smoking ceremony.
Tickets are on sale now for all the events at Arbour Festival.