There’s only mere kilometres separating the beach from the bush in Queensland, but if you’ve never ‘gone outback’ make 2013 the year to finally get some red dirt on those wheels.
This year the outback is gearing up for an action-packed calendar of over 200 adventurous events, which will see bulls, bikes and butts battle it out for the best in show.
You’re guaranteed memorable moments with plenty of fair-dinkum drovers and cowboys, ice-cold beer and fully loaded burgers and pies.
1. Tree of Knowledge Festival, Barcaldine - 4-7 May 2013
Join the heard of visitors who flock the ‘Tree of Knowledge’ in Barcaldine to rock out to the Hillbilly Goats Band and have a flutter on the goat races. The festival celebrates all that the original tree stood for, recognising its shady boughs – under which the sheering strikes were staged in the 1800s – giving birth to the Labour movement.
Though the original tree met a poisonous demise, an $8 million monument built to commemorate it claims pride of place in the centre of town. Rev heads can fire up their engines with the annual drag race and polish up their wheels for the show-car competition over this long weekend.
2. The Gregory Down River Canoe Race, Gregory - 5 May 2013
How far would you paddle for a beer? Forty-three kilometres of rapids, drops and fast-flowing bends doesn’t seem so bad when there’s a coldie waiting at the other end. In 1976, four guys had such a good time paddling down the Gregory River to the pub they decided to turn their adventure into an annual race.
Today, 2,000 fun-lovers descend on the banks of the Gregory River to enjoy a weekend of flat and rapid canoe racing.
3. Poddy Dodgers Festival, Croydon - 21-23 June 2013
Put on your blue jeans, boots and dust of that cowboy hat to head west for the Poddy Dodgers Festival – an event with its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. Enjoy the ‘world title’ wild cow milking, greasy pig chase, mutton busting ride and tug-of-war for the littlies.
If chasing a greasy pig sounds too hard, why not cook it? Join the camp oven cooking competition where outback chefs battle it out.
4. Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo, Mt Isa - 9-11 August 2013
Nothing is done on a small scale in Outback Queensland and the Mount Isa Rodeo is no exception. It’s the largest rodeo in the southern hemisphere and delivers the biggest thrills, the hardest spills and best skills in the world of bull riding. The packed program shows off the best in the west at saddle and bareback bronc riding, bull riding, rope and tie, and steer wrestling. If terms like rodeo clown and pick-up man ring no bells for you, it’s time to learn about the characters that bring raw power and life to the Mt Isa Rodeo.
Like the way I moove? (Mt. Isa Rodeo.)
5. Windorah International Yabby Races, Windorah - 4 September 2013
Yabby trainers have been feeding their eight-legged steeds a competitor’s diet of carrot and corn for months in preparation for these races. You’ll still need a form guide but you can hold your fascinator and heels for this day out at the track.
The Windorah International Yabby Races are held on the Wednesday before the Birdsville Races and are a must attend event for serious punters. Ten yabbies face off in each heat with all proceeds going toward the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
6. Birdsville Cup Races, Birdsville - 6-7 September 2013
Jump the gates early, escape the city and head to Birdsville for the race that fills this outback town to capacity. Every year, a 6000 strong cast of spectators, owners, trainers and jockeys saddle up their 4WDs to party at these iconic races.
Fuel up for a day at the track with a pit stop at Dusty’s bakery – he won’t serve you horse meat but he will curry a camel in your pie.
7. Outback Festival, Winton - 24-28 September 2013
Pack your swag for five days of bush bashing at the Outback Festival. The mild days and nights of September provide the perfect environment for this festival which hosts over 40 events including the outback ironman, masters of the outback, bushman’s egg throwing and strong man challenges among other quirky outback competitions.
Join the fun and mayhem of the main event – Australia’s Dunny Derby – when 20 teams go head-to-head dragging an outhouse behind them.
Go mate, go! (Windorah International Yabby Races)