CMC Rocks QLD: The sell-out music festival you need in your life
Every year, thousands of country and westerns fans throw on their Akubras, fasten their belt buckles and make the pilgrimage to CMC Rocks QLD for four days of boot scootin fun, less than an hour’s drive from Brisbane.
In its 11th year of rocking the lives of country music fans across the nation, Australia’s largest international country music festival found its new home last year at Queensland’s Willowbank Raceway. Ipswich will again welcome this year’s festival-goers to camp under the stars after a feast of talent from more than 30 acts over four tune-filled days.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to snap up a golden ticket within the hour of the festival selling out, prepare for an epic line-up of some of the world’s hottest country music artists that’ll rock you like a wagon wheel.
So pack the pick-up truck, get Darius Rucker on the radio and saddle up for a 5-day itinerary to make the most of your CMC Rocks QLD experience.
Day 1: En route to Ipswich
With only 45 minutes (driving) sitting between Brisbane and the country music capital of Queensland, the trip will go by faster than you can get through your CMC Rocks Spotify playlist. 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 your country 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 for 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!
Pre-game for CMC Rocks QLD 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 the official camping grounds are just a cowboy hat’s throw away from all the action. Set up camp and get acquainted with your neighbours for the next few days. Head over to the White Rabbit Saloon & Garden Bar for a drink and a boogie with live music playing until early morning. If there’s a better way to kick off CMC Rocks QLD eve, we can’t think of one.
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
In the event’s biggest year yet, 2018 CMC Rocks QLD upped the ante with 18,000 tickets selling out within an hour going on sale! So you can expect to party with Australia’s most passionate country music fans; and a whole lot of them. Talk about a good vibe!
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 Akubra, and don a winning smile!
11 years worth of country music stars
With 2018 marking the festival’s 11-year anniversary, they’ve secured a massive line-up that will knock your boots off and keep your heart singing and ears ringing early into the morning. Straight off the stages of Nashville, Luke Byran will be making his Australian debut at CMC Rocks QLD, joined by Darius Rucker, Kelsea Ballerini and a smorgasbord of international and local country music stars.
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 Shows which is on every day from 1pm-3pm in the Campers Bar. Get up close and personal with festival artists and 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.