Australia’s vast wide open spaces lend themselves to some uniquely Australian events you’re unlikely to experience anywhere else. Join the Kangaroo Island Gourmet Gallop or the Alice Springs Camel Cup. The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival, Ord Valley Muster and Mount Isa Rodeo will give you a glimpse of life in the great Australian bush. See Opera in the paddock or vineyards or have Christmas in July in the crisp Blue Mountains. Go underground at the Coober Pedy Opal Festival. Sample the Tastes of the Outback in South Australia or join the fun of Queensland’s Birdsville Races.
Kangaroo Island Gourmet Gallop
Kangaroo Island, South Australia
The Kangaroo Island Gourmet Gallop combines a great day of horse racing with a celebration of Kangaroo Island’s famous gourmet produce including seafood, lamb, olive oil, honey and local wines. The program features six races, where you can have a bet or two and soak up the atmosphere of a country race meeting. The Kangaroo Island Racing Club is one of the most picturesque tracks in South Australia, nestled amongst the unspoilt beauty of Australia’s third largest island. Spend a day at the races, then stay a few days more and try a taste of the island’s other famous attractions.
March - April
Each April, the Flinders Ranges and Outback provides a stunning backdrop for four days of foodie festivities during Tastes of the Outback. Showcasing the best of South Australia – from Jamestown in the south to Innamincka in the North, Tastes of the Outback provides visitors with the opportunity to indulge in some of South Australia’s renowned regional food and wine, matched with world-class entertainment. Ride a camel to an exclusive candlelit dinner or watch movies and take cooking classes under the stars. A highlight is the Aussie Tea Cookout, a camp oven dinner in the surroundings of the magnificent Flinders Ranges.
Aussie Wine Month, organised by Wine Australia, is a medley of around 100 events, tastings, promotions and celebrations across the country showcasing fine Australian wines. The event brings the Australian wine community together to promote the quality, diversity and value of Australian wine and to showcase the Australian regions that have become internationally renowned for producing great wine. The celebration is for anyone who enjoys a drop of Australian wine whether it be Tassie Pinot Noir, Hunter Semillon, Margaret River Cabernet, Yarra Valley Chardonnay or Barossa Shiraz, or another variety from more than 60 designated wine regions.
Targa Tasmania sees up to 300 of the world’s most exotic cars compete in an exhilarating tarmac rally, which loops across Tasmania in April. Designed specifically for elite sports, touring and grand tourer cars, the six-day event starts in Launceston and travels more than 2,000 kilometres before finishing in Hobart. Cheer for world champions and celebrities from dedicated spectator points. Or join the drivers for lunch in picturesque country towns such as George Town, Sheffield, St Helens, Devonport and New Norfolk. Visitors can even drive their own sports car in this scenic rally, which is televised across the globe.
Orange, New South Wales
Each April, the regional centre of Orange in New South Wales plays host to 10 days of divine fresh food and at the Orange F.O.O.D Week. Less than four hours from Sydney, visitors can savour the region’s famous fresh flavours and meet the people who create them at more than 60 events. Have breakfast in the vineyards, wander the apple orchards or take a cooking class in one of the acclaimed local restaurants. Attend a degustation dinner or a masquerade party. When the official events finish make sure to venture further and explore the area’s internationally renowned cool-climate wineries.
Man from Snowy River Festival
The Man from Snowy River Bush Festival is held annually in Corryong, Victoria in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains halfway between Melbourne and Sydney. The Festival was created as a celebration of bush folklore, skills and traditions and is a unique bush gathering of mountain riders, poets, artists and lovers of the Australian High Country and pioneering spirit. Held every April, the Festival brings together people from around Australia as well as international visitors to celebrate traditional high country and bush culture and in particular the imagery created by Australia's most famous poem ‘The Man from Snowy River’.
Canberra Wine Harvest Festival
Canberra and regions, Australian Capital Territory
The Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival offers the opportunity to enjoy the cool climate wines for which the region is renowned. See the vineyards during harvest with the vines heavy with fruit. Join in grape crushing, winemaking and wine appreciation classes, or just savour the fine fair accompanied by specially created Harvest Festival menus. Taste new releases from last year’s vintage and see this year’s being made. The Canberra District wine region has around 30 wineries and is one of those rare wine regions where you can still meet the winemaker or owner at the cellar door.
Kununurra, Western Australia
The Ord Valley Muster is a vibrant two-week celebration of life in the Kimberley. Join thousands of locals at more than 50 events across the region’s rugged landscape. Dress up for the comical 4WD adventure bash, swim across Lake Argyle, Australia’s largest man-made lake; or mountain bike along the challenging 800 kilometre-long Gibb River Road. Taste fresh Kimberley produce and enjoy Aboriginal music and dance. Join in the party, dig for diamonds or watch rough-riders at a rodeo. The grand finale of the event is the Kimberley Moon – a country music concert on the banks of the Ord River.
Blue Mountains, New South Wales
June - August
Every year, in the southern hemisphere winter from June to August, people flock to the Blue Mountains for Yulefest, an event which re-creates the atmosphere and charm of a traditional white Christmas in the northern hemisphere. The crisp cool air and occasional sprinkling of snow in the Blue Mountains lends itself perfectly to roaring fires, roast dinners, carol singing around the piano, grand black tie balls and even appearances by Santa Claus. In June, the streets of Katoomba come alive with a vibrant parade of jugglers, gymnasts, musicians, dancers, choirs, troubadours, buskers, storytellers and poets during the Winter Magic Festival.
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The annual Lasseters Camel Cup attracts visitors to Alice Springs from all over the world. Held each July, camels are ridden around dusty outback tracks, providing great fun for spectators. In one race, riders dressed as grooms, race the camels half way round the arena, where they collect their blushing brides for the race to the finish line. In between races, visitors can take part in rickshaw races or compete to be the most fashionable on the field in the Mr and Miss Camel Cup. Belly dancers, food stalls and bars all add to the carnival atmosphere.
Mount Isa, Queensland
Located in the outback Queensland city of Mount Isa, the Isa Rodeo is the biggest and richest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s where the romance of the Australian Outback meets the grit of a mining town, where city meets country, east meets west, and man meets beast. With a packed program of events including bull riding, bucking broncos and steer wrestling, the festival attracts some of the nation’s best cowboys and cowgirls. During Rodeo Week, Mount Isa's population swells two-fold with travellers from around the country and overseas to witness the thrills, excitement and raw power that is rodeo.
Audi Hamilton Island Race Week
Hamilton Island, Queensland
Spectators and yachtsmen and women from around the globe sail to Hamilton Island in August for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Australia's largest annual offshore keelboat regatta. A firm fixture on the international sailing calendar, there is plenty of action on and off the water. Perfectly situated on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, amongst Queensland's 74 Whitsunday Islands, Hamilton Island offers glorious weather, azure waters, brilliant beaches, awe-inspiring coral reefs, and fine food and wines. Join in the festivities and lively calendar of events, including gourmet meals prepared by celebrity chefs, fashion shows, golfing competitions and wine tastings.
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The Henley-on-Todd is an annual sailing and rowing regatta like no other, held on a dry river bed in Alice Springs. In the 1960s, the town proposed they hold a regatta like the famous Henley-on-Thames, race between Cambridge and Oxford Universities. The idea was taken up by the Rotary Club of Alice Springs. The fact that the town was 1500 kilometres from the nearest large body of water didn’t stop them. Now it’s the longest running event in the Northern Territory, turning the sandy Todd River into a humorous race track for a crazy fleet of hand-made boats each year.
Dubbed as the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’, each year thousands of racegoers converge on Birdsville, a tiny outback town on the edge of the Simpson Desert, eight miles north of the South Australian border, to enjoy two days of quality outback racing and entertainment. The race programs feature top horses from all over Australia competing for the coveted Birdsville Cup and cash prizes. The first Birdsville Races were held in 1882 and have become an Australian racing tradition which now attracts visitors from all over the world. Funds raised go towards supporting the outback’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The seven-day Australasian Safari is the toughest endurance motorsport event in the Asia Pacific region. This off-road car rally stretches more than 3000 kilometres from Perth to Kalgoorlie through Western Australia’s golden outback, testing even the hardiest of 4WD vehicles, motorbikes and quad bikes. Competitors take off from Perth and travel to Geraldton, up the coast to tropical Carnarvon and inland through the Gascoyne region, skirting around the Kennedy Ranges before heading south to finish in Geraldton. Spectators can drive sections of the course on their own motorbike or 4WD, stopping at designated points to soak up the dust-flying action.
Yarra Valley, Victoria; Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Over two weekends in October, Opera in the Vineyards is held at two of Australia’s most renowned wineries, the Wyndham Estate Winery in the Hunter Valley and Domaine Chandon in Victoria’s Yarra Valley. Along with Australia’s most celebrated opera singers, the breathtaking surrounds of the vineyards and superb food and wine add up to an experience not to be missed. Guests are invited to arrive early to indulge their taste buds at a food and wine fair. As the sun sets over the vines, take a seat in the magnificent open-air amphitheatre for a truly memorable night of classical music.
Noosa, Queensland; Augusta, Western Australia; Lorne, Victoria
August, November, December
The Anaconda Adventure Race is a spectacular off-road event which is recognised as the world’s biggest adventure race. The event is held in three Australian locations: Noosa in Queensland; Lorne in Victoria and Augusta in Western Australia. All races of the national series include challenging swimming, paddling, run and mountain bike stages through wilderness areas. ‘Doing the Anaconda' has become a genuine institution across Australia, with upwards of 1200 competitors joining in the races. There are plenty of local attractions for spectators, with market stalls, food, entertainment, live music and more, all part of the fun in each location.
Wine, Roses and all that Jazz
Canberra and regions, Australian Capital Territory
More than 30 cellar doors in the Canberra District come alive with entertainment, food, activities, and of course wine tastings, during the Wine, Roses and All That Jazz Festival. Sample award-winning red and white wines, complemented by some of the region’s best gourmet food, and relax to live music in the vineyards. Take a wine tour and meet some of Canberra's passionate vignerons all within 45 minutes drive of the city. Wine, Rose and all that Jazz presents a rare opportunity to see the source vines of some of Australia’s award-winning wines and a chance to taste some excellent vintages.
Swisse Mark Webber Challenge
The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge is a premium, five day, multi-discipline event taking in over 350 kilometres of terrain across some of Tasmania’s most stunning scenic locations. Competitors ride mountain bikes, kayak and trek different challenging courses daily. Tasmania is Australia’s adventure island. With over one third of Tasmania protected in National Parks and World Heritage Areas, the state lends itself to adventure enthusiasts. Wet or dry, extreme or gentle, Tasmania has something for every type of adventure-seeker. The race raises funds for the Mark Webber Foundation which supports Australian charities.