The Rip Chamber of Commerce thinks so. The group is investigating the merits of a Winter Solstice event involving sculptures stretching from the ferry terminal to Point Lonsdale and a “walk the plank” attraction off the Queenscliff pier.
Chamber President Tony Francis admitted the concept was very much in its infancy, but would aim to build on the borough’s growing reputation as an arts precinct and help boost winter tourism.
“We as businesses want to be known as the capital or main place for something. What we are known for down here, which I don’t think we sell very well, is our cultural and arts offerings,” he told last month’s Point Lonsdale Civic Association meeting.
“While there are a lot of good things happening like the Queenscliff Music Festival, from a business point of view, in the middle of winter it’s almost like a ghost town. Business really slows down and that’s obviously all about the weather.
“So how can we in the middle of winter, maybe the school holidays in July, when it’s pretty cold and miserable, make this an exciting place for visitors to come down and for locals to put the jackets on and get out and about.
“We want maybe some art shows through our galleries… and other community buildings. We also want a bit of a gimmick - something fun, something light-hearted - so the idea of “walk the plank” has been floated,” he said.
A plank would be placed on the Queenscliff pier and people encouraged to take a winter plunge, without wetsuits.
A display of beach sculptures that would later form a string of bonfires are also among the early ideas being considered.
“Community groups would build these sculptures on the sand made from natural materials – school groups and others – and we might have a dozen or more sites between the ferry and Point Lonsdale. At a point in time in the festival, maybe early evening, we would maybe light them up and it would create a great spectacle. It would look fantastic and welcome in the Winter Solstice,” Mr Francis said.
The Winter Solsctice marks the shortest day (longest night) of the year. This year it falls on June 20.
While the proposed event would be unique to Victoria, similar festivals are held elsewhere around the world.
One of the biggest , Spain's San Juan Summer Solstice Festival, features beach sculptures and bonfires and is a major tourist drawcard. An annual Festival of Bonfires along beaches in Louisianna also attracts large crowds.
“Obviously all of the logistics need to be looked at, whether we can actually burn things on the beach we’re not too sure. We’re in the very early stages of building the concept.
“The idea is to basically have a fun festival in the middle of Winter, further promote our arts and culture and get community groups involved into an event that we can grow,” he said.
Anybody wanting to assist with the concept is encouraged to contact the Chamber.