11 of Australia's weird AF festivals
At least they’ll be memorable.
By Jessica Wilkinson & Jac Taylor
Do you LOVE watermelons? Or have a borderline obsession with Mary Poppins? OR, do you reeeaaallly want to make a boat out of beer cans? We thought so. Us too, apparently! Turns out Aussies are a bit weird and aren’t afraid to show it.
YOU JUST CAN’T LOOK AWAY
Chinchilla Melon Festival, Chinchilla, Queensland
The Melon Festival in the "melon capital of Australia" (...sure, that’s something to be proud of), is kind of big deal, guys. There's watermelon shoes, hats, obstacle course flooring, shot puts and pretty much anything else you can think of.
Key dates: 14 - 17 February 2019 (held every second year)
Deniliquin Ute Muster, Deniliquin, New South Wales
The Deniliquin Ute Muster is dedicated to the ute, an essential part of farm life in the outback. There are a lot of men in blue singlets and shorts, there’s rodeo events, live music acts (past performers include Keith Urban and Jimmy Barnes), and Aussie ute stunts such as "circlework" and "handbrakeys". Yes, they’re real things.
Key dates: 29 - 30 September 2017
Mary Poppins Festival, Maryborough, Queensland
Move over Emily Blunt, the good people of Maryborough have been pretending to be Mary Poppins for years as part of the Mary Poppins Festival. Mary Poppins’ creator, author PL Travers was born here so peeps have obvs taken that to the extreme. But hey, if you want to race prams dressed as nannies, go for gold we say.
Key dates: 29 June - 8 July 2018
Beer Can Regatta, Darwin, Northern Territory
You know what we don’t think each time we finish a beer? “We should totally build a boat from this can” but that’s why the creative people of Darwin are here. These fine people have created the Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta where beer cans are turned into boats and raced. It’s almost brilliant when you think about it.
Key date: 22 July 2018
Henley on Todd Regatta, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The desert is not really the place you think of when you think “boat race” but Alice Springs says otherwise. 20,000 spectators come every year to watch competitors run their elaborately built "boats" down the dry riverbed during the Henley on Todd Regatta. Fancy dress is encouraged. We’ll leave you to imagine this one.
Key date: 18 August, 2018
The Good Dog! Film Festival, Sydney, New South Wales
This is pretty much a film festival for all the people who love dogs. So, everyone. The two-day film festival devoted entirely to movies featuring man’s best friend, The Good Dog! Film Festival raises money for dog charities so OPEN your wallets people.
Key dates: December 2017 (to be announced)
Elvis Festival, Parkes, New South Wales
It's about as far away from Graceland as you can imagine, but this far western New South Wales town has been celebrating The King for 25 years. The five-day Elvis Festival transforms the townspeople of Parkes into a bedazzled, sideburned bunch of peeps ready to swivel their hips at the slightest provocation. Sure, it’s mildly creepy but hey. YOLO.
Key dates: 10-14 January 2018
The Camel Cup, Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Like horse racing, but weirder. In Alice Springs camels compete every July for the coveted Camel Cup, drawing about 5000 spectators, who stay for other attractions such as markets, rickshaw racing and perhaps a drink or two to toast the champion.
Key date: 14 July 2018
Running of the Sheep, Boorowa, New South Wales
Spain has the Running of the Bulls so naturally, Australia has the Running of the Sheep, the finishing touch to the annual, free Irish Woolfest, held every October in Boorowa. The sheep are herded through the streets by a local, Farmer Ashley, and his friendly pack of kelpie dogs.
Key date: 1 October 2017
The Compass Cup Cow Race, Mount Compass, South Australia
In writing this piece it’s become clear that Australians really do like a race, and that they’ll race literally anything. This particular race (Compass Cup Cow Race) embraces the chaos and hilarity of untrained cows "racing" – loosely speaking – to raise money for the local community.
Key date: 27 January 2018
Tunarama, Port Lincoln, South Australia
January 26 is Australia Day, a national holiday that means we all get a long weekend and dress up in flags. Many towns organise festivities to reflect their local character and the fishiest of these would have to take place in Port Lincoln. The Tunarama festival highlight is the Tuna Toss, a competition in which the town's most famous export, tuna, is lobbed in an Olympic-style hammer throw. Yep.
Key dates: 25-28 January 2018