CMC Rocks QLD: The sell-out music festival you need in your life
Every year, thousands of fans whack on their Akubras, fasten their belt buckles and make the pilgrimage to CMC Rocks QLD for three days of the coolest country music in a friendly setting.
Previously held in the Snowys and then the Hunter Valley, Australia’s largest international country music festival has found its new home at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway. Festival-goers gathered to camp under the gums and gaze up at the big night sky after a feast of talent from more than 35 country and roots acts.
With this year being CMC Rocks Qld’s 10th anniversary, the festival is bringing out some big guns from around the world to celebrate.
Day 1: En route to Ipswich
With only 45 minutes (driving) sitting between Brisbane and the country music capital of Queensland, the trip is super-duper fast and easy. That’s why it’s worthwhile making a few pit stops to make a day out of it.
AM: Scenic start
Start the day with a peaceful morning of city gazing at Mt Coot-tha Lookout. It’s just shy of the motorway that will take you to Ipswich and the winding road to the top is a picturesque teaser of the end view so press play on that road trip playlist and enjoy the ride.
On the way back down, don’t forget to stop at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at the bottom of the mountain. The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium is also located on the grounds and the dome’s criss-cross pattern makes an awesome photo background.
PM: Explore Ipswich
You’ve left Brisbane in a cloud of dust behind you and have entered quite possibly Queensland’s most under-rated city. So what do you do? Explore!
Begin with some lunch (and a beer) at Pumpyard Bar & Brewery. Located in the CBD, Pumpyard received its name from the building’s former purpose of water supply to the city. Now it’s in the business of pumping out a different type of liquid. In fact, it was named one of the Top 50 beer venues in Australia by Beer and Brewer magazine.
After downing lunch, the award-winning Ipswich Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit. As one of the most visited regional art galleries in Australia, the Ipswich Art Gallery boasts exhibiting local artists and a permanent interactive children’s area.
Once you’ve explored Ipswich’s city-centre it’s time to head out to the festival at Willowbank Raceway where tent city, the official event accommodation, is just a cowboy hat’s throw away from all the action. Don’t fret if the festival camping is sold out, you can also set up camp at the Ivory Rocks Convention and Events Campground just 20 minutes down the road.
Overnight: Tent city
Don’t forget to pack a pillow and a swag because home for the next three nights will be the cosy surrounds of tent city. Think: swapping stories around a circle of camping chairs, listening to the soothing sounds of nocturnal animals and snoring neighbours, and waking up with the sun. Ahh, the serenity.
Day 2-4: CMC Rocks (the main event)
In full festival fashion, gumboots will be your best friend when it comes to dressing for CMC. So pull on those boots and saddle up for three days of rockin’!
To get you pumped for what is set to be a cracker of a time, here are some of the things you can expect at the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest international Country and Roots Festival:
More cowboys and cowgirls than you can count
With over 45,000 attendees over the three days, the 2016 CMC Rocks QLD broke music records. In fact, it was the first country music festival to sell out in Australian history!
A smoochin’ good time
With that amount of people, there are higher chances of finding love, right? CMC thinks so, which is why in 2016 the festival introduced “Sweethearts Saloon” – a speed-dating activity that attracted hundreds of requests. So shine that belt, straighten that hat, and don a winning smile!
10 years worth of country music stars
With 2017 marking the festival’s 10-year anniversary, they’ve secured a massive line-up that will knock your boots off. For one, the Dixie Chicks will be returning to Australian stage for the first time in over a decade!
A chance to become a country music star
If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a country rock star, then participating in the live band karaoke is an absolute must. Instead of singing in the shower, belt your heart out to an audience with a live backing band.
However, if you think you still have a lot to learn, head to the Songwriter’s Sessions to get up close and personal with festival artists. Hear the stories behind their songs and sway along to live acoustic versions.
A sunset worthy of a country music song
If you have time to sneak away from the festival for a minute, head up to the top of Denmark Hill Conservation Reserve for a spectacular view of the sun setting over the city. The orange hues will have you feeling giddy, acting as a muse to your own country music dreams.
Day 5: Heading home to Brisbane
The festival might be over, but the trip isn’t just yet. Prolong that post-festival depression and keep the fun going an extra day!
AM: Discover the heart of Ipswich
After you’ve packed up the campsite, set on the road back into Ipswich for a breakfast at Fourthchild. The café is similar to what you would stumble across in a Melbourne laneway, with colourful graffiti-inspired artworks lining the brick walls. With a serve of crème brulee French toast, the energy levels will be given a boost for a fun-filled day ahead.
It’s not a true Ipswich visit if you haven’t spent some time at Bob Gamble Park at River Heart Parklands. Treat the kids to a mega playground, complete with a waterpark, flying fox, swings, climbing apparatuses, and plenty of room for running around. While the kids are tiring themselves out, recuperate under the shade at one of the many picnic areas.
PM: Spend some koala-ty time together
After an action-packed few days, unwind with your loved ones at a mid-drive visit to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Get up close with kangaroos, birds, platypuses, and have a cuddle with one of the 130 koalas residing at the sanctuary.
Perk up for the rest of the drive home with a coffee in the ‘Koala Forest’, the sanctuary’s café that is surrounded by dozens of koalas.