Tourism and Events Queensland

Year of Outback Tourism Guide

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Held every two years and regarded as one of Australia's quirkiest festivals, the event showcases classic Outback fun. Kicking off on September 24, the festival will include signature events such as the Australian Dunny Derby, Outback Ironman and Ironwoman contests and the Century Cycle Challenge for the toughest of competitors. Then there's whip-cracking, wool bale rolling, strongman challenges and plenty of activities for younger 'swaggies'. Barcaldine's status as the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party in 1891 is the basis for the Tree of Knowledge Festival. Under the Tree of Knowledge, once a gorgeous ghost gum, now preserved for posterity, striking shearers took Queensland's first industrial action and Labour Day holiday weekend still celebrates those political roots. From May 3 to 6, Barcaldine's Oak St will be the focus of fun and music, with go-kart and hobby horse races, food stalls, and more. Few experiences can beat watching the sun set over the Big Red Dune in the heart of the Simpson Desert, at the world's most remote music festival. The Birdsville Big Red Bash returns from July 16 to 18, with rock band Midnight Oil headlining as the desert rocks under the starry Outback skies. The 40m-high Big Red Dune will light up, and the full moon will rise during the concert, which also features 16 other Australian artists and bands including The Living End, Kasey Chambers, Chocolate Starfish, Wendy Matthews and more. Just a few days later, the ships of the desert turn out for Australia's longest camel race. Held every year, the Boulia Camel Races features the 1500m cup final and is a favourite on the professional camel racing circuit. And there's more, with the three-day festival (July 19-21) also encompassing a camel-tagging competition, yabby races, live music and dancing, the Great Australian Ride-on Lawn Mower Race, and tug-of-war contests. Saturday night's entertainment culminates in a fireworks extravaganza. The spotlight shines on Birdsville again in September as up to 6000 racegoers don their best hats, fascinators and boots for two days of horse racing and entertainment at the annual 'Melbourne Cup of the Outback', the Birdsville Races. The second race meet in the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival, the 13-race program features horses from all over Australia, competing for the coveted Birdsville Cup on September 6 and 7. Few experiences can beat watching the sun set over the Big Red Dune ... at the world's most remote music festival dinner and movie, screened at the 100- year-old Royal Open Air Theatre, and the Qantas Short Film Competition, as well as location tours, screen-writing masterclasses and the chance to rub shoulders with stars of the screen. Festival director Mark Melrose says while the full program is yet to be confirmed, film buffs will be treated to some of the best movies available. "And of course, we will also be adding another star to the Winton Walk of Fame," he says, although the recipient is under wraps until the star is unveiled. Organisers of the Outback Festival (September 24-28) are expecting bumper crowds to converge on Winton this year for the event's 25th anniversary. Birdsville's Big Red Bash; Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival, right; Boulia Camel Races, below. CENTRAL sponsored content BEDOURIE CAMPDRAFT, RODEO, GYMKHANA AND BRONCO BRANDING, Bedourie, July 5-7 BEDOURIE CAMEL AND PIG RACES AND CAMP OVEN COOK-OFF, Bedourie, July 13 OUTBACK QUEENSLAND MASTERS, Winton, July 13-14 EIGHTEENTH ANNUAL OLD WHEELS IN MOTION RALLY, Biloela, July 20-21 OUTBACK QUEENSLAND MASTERS, Boulia, July 22-23 GEMFEST FESTIVAL OF GEMS, Anakie, August 8-11 BETOOTA RACES, Betoota, August 30-31 BARCALDINE ART COMPETITION AND EXHIBITION, Barcaldine, August 31 SIMPSON DESERT RACING CARNIVAL, Birdsville, August 31- September 14 BEDOURIE RACES, Bedourie, September 13-14 OUTBACK FOOD WINE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL, Longreach, September 14 THEODORE BULLS 'N' BARRELS BONANZA, Theodore, October 19 LAKE CALLIDE FAMILY FISHING CLASSIC, Lake Callide, October 27-28 For more exciting Outback Queensland events, visit queensland.com/ outbackevents Take a look at Longreach: Any visit to the central Queensland Outback should include a stop at Longreach, which has some of the region's top attractions. The legendary Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and equally fascinating Qantas Founders Museum share top billing. Two of the best tour operators around are Outback Aussie Tours and Outback Pioneers. Alan and Sue Smith have been running Outback Aussie Tours for more than 30 years and bring an infectious enthusiasm to their tours, while at Outback Pioneers, the Kinnon family introduces visitors to Outback life past and present. Another chance to see Outback life in action is at the Walker family's Camden Park Station. Meet Winton's dinosaurs: While in Winton, take a spin to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs, about 20 minutes' drive from town, and be transported back 95 million years. At the same time, stop off at Lark Quarry, which records the dramatic dinosaur stampede still visible in the tracks imprinted in the rock floor. Red Dirt Tours offers full and half- day tours taking in these and more attractions around Winton. The mysterious Min Min: Boulia's mysterious Min Min Lights have appeared to travellers for decades, but no-one can explain them. Visit the Min Min Encounter in the main street to hear the theories about these balls of glowing light that follow unsuspecting travellers at night. Then make up your own mind! Beat it to Birdsville: You can fly into Birdsville, but for most people the fun is in getting there. The Birdsville Track is a 517km Outback adventure like no other — and what better excuse to drive it than to get to the Birdsville Races, or the Big Red Bash? And at any time of year, there's the chance for that selfie outside the Birdsville Hotel, just to say you made it. CENTRAL OUTBACK QUEENSLAND

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