Calling all cowboys and cockies!
Fuel up the 4WD and get ready, because Queensland’s outback is about to explode into a dirt busting riot of colour, cowboys, horse races and oddly enough, operas, as the state gears up for a calendar of events designed to put the best of the Aussie state’s country folk, and the beasts behind them, on show.
So, if you’re about to head off on that month-long nomadic adventure, why not tie in a little ‘eventure’ and meet the friendliest folk on the planet from the quaintest towns in the country. Or if you have week spare, pop west for some land-locked action. Here are the top 10 ‘Eventures’ in Outback Queensland this summer
Curry Merry Muster Festival, Cloncurry (3-5 August, 2012)
They call it ‘the Curry’, and there’s no better place to get hot and spicy in the outback than Cloncurry when it fires up for the Curry Merry Muster Festival. This is Cloncurry’s Rodeo and it’s known for its heart-racing, adrenalin-pumping, man Vs beast action.
This tiny town of 2,400 people, just a quick detour east of Mt Isa, comes alive with a street parade, local workshops, markets, live entertainment and loads of rodeo action with both bull and bronc riding. Best of all, it’s cheaper than chaff with tickets costing between AU$5 and 18 bucks a piece. No wonder the town’s been tagged the ‘Friendly heart in the Great North West’.
Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo, Mt Isa, (10-12 August, 2012)
Billed for the biggest thrills, the hardest spills and best skills in the world of rodeo, The Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo is the rodeo equivalent of 20/20 Cricket – fast and furious and a clash of two titans: the romance of the Australian Outback and the grit of the nation’s toughest mining town.
For three days, the township goes into western overdrive and dresses itself up for a packed program of events including saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, rope and tie, steer wrestling, team roping, ladies barrel racing and ladies breakaway roping. Throw in a Mailman Express (horserace), a Street Party, Queen Quest, Best Dressed Premises, live music, show-rides, Fred Brophy’s Boxing Tent and this ‘oasis in the outback’ will once again hit the mother lode of country fun.
Amongst the 26,000 visitors expected this year, we recommend you keep your eyes peeled for the nation’s meanest bulls: ‘Evil Eyes’ and ‘Suicidal Blonde’.
Tickets start from AU$30 per adult and AU$10 per child.
The Drovers Camp Festival, Camooweal, 24-26 August, 2012
They no longer saddle up for the long country runs, but the legends of the past still live on at the Camooweal Drovers Camp Festival.
Twenty three years after the final drover’s run mustered cattle through town, a group of former stockmen, ranchers and cattle herders – now in their 70s and 80s – return annually to Camooweal for a chance to rekindle the tales of yesteryear. Anyone can join in and yarn with a “droving darling” or steal a little insight into the action at the bronco branding competition. There’s also one massive big shed filled with historical memorabilia of the droving history of Northern Australia.
Birdsville Races, Birdsville, 31 August – 1 September, 2012
Cost: AU$20 per adult
It’s not quite the race that stops the nation, but it is the race that fills a town.
Each year the tiny town of Birdsville explodes with non-stop fun at Australia’s most famous Outback race meeting. Now boasting one of the richest race meetings in regional Australia, the Birdsville Races attracts an entourage of more than 6000 spectators, owners, trainers and jockeys – most of them pulling up a swag, cracking open the tent, or sleeping under the stars to get the full impact of heart-of-the-country desert hospitality.
Enroute to Birdsville, stop in at Longreach and throw a line in the Thomson River for the annual Yellowbelly Classic (August 26 – 28) or take box office seat in the main street of Windorah (the only street?) for the International Yabby Races (August 31). With events like the Cooper Creek Cup and the Barcoo Bolt up for grabs, the yabby trainers out west are already feeding their ‘eight legged steeds’ a fine diet of carrot and corn.
Bedourie Ute and Travellers Muster, Bedourie, 7-8 September, 2012
Attention all revheads! If you’ve busted the bank at the Birdsville Races, then head down to Bedourie to for a meeting of diesel and dust.
The Bedourie Outback Ute and Traveller’s Muster is THE place to be if you own utes, like utes, race utes, or just want a ute. With more than $10,000 in prize money and a few sparkling trophies up for grabs, you may just want to race your own mean machine!
Opera in the Outback, Undara, 4-6 October, 2012
Cost: From AU$49 per adult
Three hundred and fifty clicks south-west of Cairns, the outback hits its highest note as the stars of the Operatic circles travel north for a polished performance in the bush. Held in Undara under the spotlight of a million night stars, Opera in the Outback attracts a cross between music lovers and bush lovers and includes a theatrical performance on Thursday following by two nights of full blown Opera.
Pitch a tent, stay in an historic rail carriage or bring your own van and be animated by a touch of bush class.
Jundah Annual Races and Oktoberfest, Jundah, 5-7 October, 2012
If the clink of a beer stein and the image of an honest Aussie farmer in a good pair of lederhosen appeals to your sense of humour, then turn the GPS to Jundah for the world’s most remote Oktoberfest.
Held outside the town’s sole pub against a backdrop of red bull dust, the Jundah Oktoberfest began in 2010 as a salute to the very first German beer fest 200 years ago.
The town – whose only link to the land of King Ludwig is a motley crew of stray German backpackers – celebrates the event with a true Queensland twist. Instead of horse races, here sheep hoof it down the main street (the only street in town) in a dash for the much prized cup. Just like the mother land, there will be traditional costumes, a romp-stomping folk band and the odd pork sausage or two. Prizes for the best costume offered daily.
Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic, 26 -28 October, 2012
Cost: From Nil to AU$30
Fish, friends and AU$50,000. The Lake Moondarra Fishing Classic just outside Mt Isa is the richest fresh water fishing competition in Queensland and the most prestigious freshwater fishing event in North West Queensland.
Packed into three days, the hook for all anglers is the prized Mount Isa Water Board tagged Barra. Those preferring their land over water, check out the dragon boat regatta, yabby races, and fireworks spectacular.
Cunnamulla Fella Festival, 9-11 November, 2012
Who is the Cunnamulla Fella? According to the artist who created the statue located smack in the middle of the town, The Cunnamulla Fella is a young shearer with a penchant for ‘dancing, loving and fightin”. He is the image of the larrikin in all Australians.
Little wonder then that the Cunnamulla Fella Festival is a celebration of the region’s proud pastoral heritage and a showcase of all the ingredients for a fun outback festival. It has horses and pro bull riding, live country music and the Cunnamulla Fella Challenge – a bush ‘Iron Man’ competition that tests strength and bush survival skills.