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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.