Australia's largest Indigenous gathering, Garma Festival, has been cancelled over coronavirus fears for remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
The annual festival held in Gulkula in northeast Arnhem Land was due to run from July 30 to August 2 but organisers the Yothu Yindi Foundation say it's too risky.
"It is with enormous regret and sadness that we advise this year's Garma Festival will not proceed," a spokesman said Monday.
"Unfortunately, the NT's (acting Chief Medical Officer Charles Pain) has determined that Gulkula's remote location poses too many logistical and safety challenges in the unlikely event of a COVID incident."
These include the lack of quarantine facilities in the remote community, about 1000km by road from Darwin, and the difficulty of evacuating people from the festival, which usually attracts more than 2500 guests each year.
YYF said it had made arrangements for all interstate attendees to be tested upon arrival in Arnhem Land and to provide a 24-hour COVID clinic on-site.
"(We) were confident that these and other safety measures were rigorous enough to all but eliminate the public health risk associated with staging the event," the spokesman said.
"(But) keeping the region COVID-free has always been YYF's number one priority, so we accept the CHO's decision."
Dr Pain later told reporters the ongoing outbreak in Melbourne had prompted his decision.
He said it was too early to say if the Barunga Festival - which starts on June 11 near Katherine, south of Darwin, and attracts about 4000 people - would be cancelled.