Chincilla Melon Festival, Outback Queensland
From melon-throwing and camel races to bog-snorkelling and pumpkin bowling, Australia is home to some unique events.
By Andrea Beattie
Australians are well known for our sense of humour and fun-loving nature. It’s little wonder then that we host some of the world’s quirkiest festivals including this weekend’s Chinchilla Melon Festival.
Chinchilla Melon Festival
When: 14 – 17 February, 2019
This weird and wacky festival has put the small Queensland town of Chinchilla on the map, attracting visitors from all over the world. Located in the Darling Downs region about a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of Brisbane, Chinchilla is known as the Melon Capital of Australia, producing a quarter of our country’s watermelons, honeydew melons and rockmelons. The locals believe that’s more than enough reason to celebrate and they do it in true Australian style – by throwing the world’s largest melon festival.
Started in 1994 by local businessmen to lift the town’s spirits after a period of severe drought, the festival now attracts more than 10,000 visitors every two years. It’s jam-packed with art displays, stalls, melon farm tours, parades, storytelling, markets and live entertainment. But it’s the unique melon events that make it a stand-out.
The real crowd pleasers are the Melon Skiing, where competitors squish their feet into watermelons and slip and slide their way to the finish line, and the Melon Chariot Race in which teams compete in chariots they’ve made from melon-packing cartons, pallets and, of course, melons. You’ll also see some monster melons at the Big Melon Weigh In as growers try to beat Bernie and Matt Davies’ long-standing 87.5kg (193lb) record for the festival’s heaviest melon. Other events include the Slip, Dip and Pull Melon Tug-O-War, Melon Ironman and Ironwoman obstacle course challenge, Melon Pip Spitting Contest and Celebrity Melon Eating. Bring your sense of humour and a poncho, as things get very sticky.
Penny Farthing Championships
When: 23 February, 2019
The historic Tasmanian town of Evandale, just a 20-minute drive south of Launceston, has a reputation for hosting the most competitive penny farthing races in the world. During the National Penny Farthing Championships, the town throws a country fair and period-themed festival to celebrate as riders from all over the world race these grand old cycles of yesteryear around the village circuit.
Julia Creek Dirt 'n' Dust Festival
When: 12 – 14 April, 2019
While Queensland’s Julia Creek Dirt ‘n’ Dust Festival features all the expected outback events such as horseracing and bull riding, it’s the flyswatting and bog-snorkelling competitions that draw the most curiosity. What’s bog snorkelling? An underwater race through a mud-filled trench.
Uluru Camel Cup
When: 24 May, 2019
Enjoy a real Australian outback experience as skilled jockeys spur their racing camels towards the finish line in the Uluru Camel Cup, held just outside Alice Springs. There’s also a Fashions on the Field contest, live entertainment and a crowd favourite, the camel dung throwing contest.
Goomer Pumpkin Festival
When: 26 May, 2019
Home to the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll, the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is a major drawcard for the region, located a three-hour drive north of Brisbane. A huge celebration of the humble orange vegetable, the festival hosts idiosyncratic events such as pumpkin shot put and pumpkin bowls, along with a display of some of the biggest pumpkins grown by local farmers and green thumbs.
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