Tourism and Events Queensland

Year of Outback Tourism Guide

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NORTH Frontier Days Rodeo and the National Indigenous Rodeo Championships, plus a great line-up of live music. Half the fun of getting to any bush event is the journey. "Do some planning on how you want to get there and what roads you want to take on the way home," says author John Andersen, who has been travelling and writing in the region for 40 years. "Swim in the pandanus-fringed Gregory River. Fish for sooty grunter and barra. Have a steak sanga on the veranda of Normanton's famous Purple Pub. "Head for Karumba and sip on an evening coldie at the Sunset Tavern as the sun slips beneath the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Enjoy it." While you're there... Rock on: Visit spectacular natural attractions such as the Chillagoe Caves, Cobbold Gorge and Undara lava tubes. Go fishing: The Gulf Coast is a relatively untouched fishing paradise, full of rivers, wetlands, bays and reefs. Your best bet is to book a fishing guide well in advance. Sound advice: If music is your thing, check out the Palm Creek Folk Festival or Opera in the Outback at Undara. The Laura Dance Festival attracts people from all over the world and is held every two years (next one in 2020). Blast from the past: The history of northern Outback Queensland is one written by tough people living in forbidding country. Every community has tales of drovers, miners, explorers and pioneers trying to tame the land. Take the time to stop in every little town and unearth its amazing past. Train hard: Board the Savannahlander or Gulflander trains for a slow ride through some spectacular country, learning about the history of the region as you trundle along. Drive safe: All the rules about safe Outback driving apply in the north, except there is one more thing to think about — the wet. Cyclones and rain events of immense scale occur from November to March and can cause havoc. Always check the route ahead, and have enough food and water with you to wait for flooded roads to clear. J ulia Creek is the little town that could. Living in the middle of nowhere about three hours' drive east of Mount Isa, the locals are a resilient lot and not easily deterred. Even so, when they came up with a plan to hold a major triathlon event, even the most optimistic supporters had their doubts about the event's potential. Flash forward 25 years and the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival (April 12-14) has silenced the naysayers and become one of the region's most successful events, gaining a reputation as the toughest triathlon festival in Australia and attracting some of the country's best athletes and a legion of wannabes. Entrants are attracted by the unique conditions, including the rare opportunity to swim competitively in a billabong. Like many of Queensland's Outback festivals, Julia Creek Dirt n Dust is much more than just a triathlon. There is horse-racing, pro bull-riding, bog snorkelling and concerts which, over the years, have attracted a who's who of Aussie musical talent. Julia Creek is only a little place but it puts on a hell of a show. It's bigger cousin west along the Overlander's Way, Mount Isa, knows all about putting on a show too. The Mount Isa Mines Rodeo (August 8-11) is 60 years old this year and as its organisers say, this is where the "romance of the Australian Outback meets the grit of a mining town, east meets west and man meets beast". And what a party it is. People living and working in remote locations never pass up an opportunity to let their hair down, and they love sharing the fun with visitors. The rodeo is the biggest in Australia and, along with legendary feats by both riders, horses and bulls, there's plenty of other entertainment, including a street party and a live music line-up which last year featured Jimmy Barnes, James Blundell and more. For a more indigenous flavour you could head to the Gulf Country Frontier Days Festival (August 15-18) after you've recovered from your time in Mount Isa. This festival at Gregory brings together musicians, indigenous performers and more cowboys in the heart of Queensland's Gulf Country. The main drawcards are the People living in remote locations never pass up an opportunity to let their hair down MORE EVENTS Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Festival; Gulf Country Frontier Days Festival, below. good clean fun EASTER AT EINASLEIGH, Einasleigh, April 19-21 NORMANTON BARRA CLASSIC, Normanton, April 20-21 UNDARA OUTBACK ROCK AND BLUES, Mount Surprise, April 25-27 CHARTERS TOWERS COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL, Charters Towers, May 3-5 GREGORY DOWNS RACES, Charters Towers, May 4 RICHMOND BUSH SPRINTS, Richmond, May 4 GREGORY RIVER CANOE RACE, Gregory Downs, May 5 2019 GLENCORE GREAT WESTERN GAMES, Mount Isa, Charters Towers, Julia Creek, Hughenden, Cloncurry and Richmond, June 22-30 THE PALUMA PUSH, Charters Towers, July 21 OUTBACK QUEENSLAND MASTERS, Mount Isa, July 26-28 NORTH QUEENSLAND ELITE RODEO, Hervey Range, August 16-17 LEGENDS AND THE LOCALS 2019, Hughenden, August 18 DROVER'S CAMP FESTIVAL, Camooweal, August 23-25 LAKE MOONDARRA FISHING CLASSIC, Lake Moondarra, October 26-28 PALUMA DAM GOOD TRAIL RUN 2019, Paluma, October 27 For more exciting Outback Queensland events, visit outbackevents From bog snorkelling to rodeos, northern Outback Queensland has all the fun. Rod Gordon reports YEAR OF Outback TOURISM NORTHERN OUTBACK QUEENSLAND

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