Queensland’s best festivals in 2011

Queensland has often been described as being a little different from the rest of the country – and we’re not referring to its recent penchant for floods and cyclones! It’s an unusual state largely because of its makeup. It has a very decentralised population with the capital down one end and increasingly remoter and isolated communities the further you travel north or west. And it’s a whopping big state too filled with incredible landscapes, great coastlines, friendly people and plenty of wildlife to check out. You’ll love it!

However the isolated nature of some places has helped develop towns that tend to be quite self reliant with something of a frontier mentality – as can be said of many places down under. However the remote areas and eccentric population have produced some pretty zany, unusual, fun, free-flowing and incredible festivals.

And here are just some that you should check out this year to help get Queensland tourism back on its feet:

Melon skiing at the 2011 event. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Chinchilla Melon Festival
Where: Darling Downs, south east Queensland about 300km west of Brisbane
When: 17-20 February 2011
Information: http://www.melonfest.com.au/
Go along and see someone ski on top of watermelons, split them open with their hands, do a melon bungee or try some melon pip spitting. It’s a few days of all the watermelon madness you can handle and it’s on now! This fruit festival of epic proportions has started and yours truly is heading out there tomorrow to check out the action. I’ll post some photos early next week. This is an event I’ve had in my diary for a long time, ever since VIP Backpackers general manager Kristin Dahlberg went out there two years ago and told me all about it – thanks Kristin!
Dirt and Dust Festival
Where: Julia Creek, 550km west of Townsville
When: 15-17 April
Information: http://www.dirtndust.com
Featuring a triathlon, a “Best Butt” competition, bull riding, live bands and horse races, this is definitely a weekend of action up around Julia Creek. If you think you’ve got what it takes to get there and join in, you’re in for some fun. There’s also a corporate teams adventure week called “Pit stop to the creek” with plenty of fun activities on the way to Julia Creek itself.

Doomadgee dance group. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Dreaming Festival, Wooford
Where: Woodford, south east Queensland
When: 10-13 June 2011
Info: www.thedreamingfestival.com
The Australian International Indigenous Festival is a fantastic celebration of indigenous cultures worldwide. With a focus obviously on Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture there are also dances, crafts, performances, theatre and story telling from ancestral homes around the globe.Come for the day or camp overnight and stay longer. Woodford is a gorgeous valley about an hour northwest of Brisbane.

Mt Isa Rodeo
Where: Central western Queensland
When: 12-14 August 2011
Information: http://www.isarodeo.com.au/index.php?id=60
Come join the ride at this world class rodeo and associated festivities. Check out the wrestling, bronc riding and bull riding action or join local poets for breakfast readings or pretty yourself up for the ball. There’s plenty happening in the Isa this weekend and it’s a good chance to stay on longer and check out the famed Isa mines and some of the surrounding history and scenery. A fascinating part of the state.

Cairns Festival
Where: North Queensland in the coastal town of Cairns
When: 22 August – 5 September
Information: http://www.cairnsfest.com.au
This is a real showcase event for north Queensland and features all the incredible creative, cultural and sporting talent of the region. Enjoy the food and wine and the national and international artists over a couple of weeks.

Gympie Music Muster
Where: south east Queensland, 160km north of Brisbane
When: August 23-28, 2011
Information: http://www.muster.com.au/home
Held over six days and nights in winter, this event truly ensnares the country spirit of Australia. Bring your hat and boots, check into a campsite and enjoy entertainment across 13 venues. There’s blues, folk, bush poetry, theatre, dance, debating and all the splendours of the forest park where it’s held in Gympie.

Birdsville Hotel during the 2008 races. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Birdsville Races
Where: Middle of nowhere, edge of the Simpson Desert far south west Queensland
When: 2-3 September
Info: www.birdsvilleraces.com
If you want to experience one of Australia’s ultimate outback festivals this is the place to come. It’s a wee bit of a drive, about 2000km from Brisbane, but worth it for a weekend of fantastic entertainment. With a travelling boxing tent, country music stars, food and of course horse races it just doesn’t get any better. Come with your tent and food and a good car – last year’s race goers were stranded for three days when flooding rains forced the cancellation of some of the event.

It’s preceded by races at Betoota (27 August, 2011) and followed by more races at Bedourie (9-10 September) in the region nearby. You could also check out the Windorah Yabby Races on the way to Birdsville held the Wednesday night before the races.

Hamilton Island. Pic: Joanne Lane, http://www.visitedplanet.com

Whitsunday Reef Festival
Where: Airlie Beach, central coast
When: 21-24 October, 2011
Information: http://www.whitsundayreeffestival.com.au
Put this event on your list if you’re up around Airlie Beach later this year. Featuring some serious fashion events, writing competitions, family fun events like egg and spoon races, movies, markets and music; it’s a showcase of the brilliant Whitsunday area at its undeniable best. Stay on to explore the fabulous islands and natural wonders of the region.

Events you’ve already missed this year to put in your diary for next year:
Cockroach Races, Australia Day (January 26), Brisbane – http://www.cockroachraces.com.au/
Dunny races, Ettamogah Pub, Australia Day (January 26) – http://www.aussieworld.com.au/events/australia-day.html

Feel free to add your favourite Queensland festival to the list!


Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. There’ll be an update added every other Friday, so keep tuning in to keep your travel dreams alive! If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact me, Jo, at blog@vipbackpackers.com



2 thoughts on “Queensland’s best festivals in 2011

  1. Pingback: Photo gallery: 2011 Chinchilla melon fest « Vipbackpackers's Blog

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