Australia has its share of festivals some on the serious side and some weird and wacky.
New South Wales
Boorowa on the Southern Tablelands is for the most part a quiet farming town. That is until the October long weekend. Merinos rampage down the main street, in a parade led by the NSW Irish Pipe Band and the Canberra Celtic Pipe band. Irish and Australians perform. The Blessing of the Fleece is an ecumenical service celebrating the fine wool of the district. Entry is free and it will be on again on October 03, 2030. Visit www.irishwoolfest.boorowa.net
for more information.
is home of the annual Camel Cup. It began as a bet between a couple of mates in the pub and grew into a full-scale carnival. There's no prize money but trophies are awarded. Any monies raised go to the Lions Club and a long list of local causes are beneficiaries. It starts at 11.30am with an opening ceremony and grand parade and races are run every hour.
Between races, belly dancers and rickshaw rallies entertain and there are food stalls and bars. Punters vote for the prettiest camel and the winner of a hat-draw competition rides a camel along the dry Todd River and is treated to dinner at a camel farm. It will be on again on July 10, 2010. Entry is $15 for adults and $5 for children. Visit www.camelcup.com.au for more information.
The Goomeri Pumpkin Festival is held every year in the little town 265km north-west of Brisbane. More than 14,000 people flock into town the night before for country-style food, local wines and non-stop dancing. The next morning 200 market stalls are set up along the streets and the fun begins. There are dog demonstrations, whip cracking, Clydesdale competitions, square dancing, antique cars and music all day long.
The highlight is the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll. At 2pm pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are rolled and splattered down Policeman's Hill with rollers competing for prize money. There's pumpkin bowls, decorated pumpkins and a giant pumpkin competition and for the hungry, soup, damper, scones and pie. The pumpkins will be rolling again on May 30, 2010. Entry is free. Visit www.goomeri.org.au for more information.
Chinchilla in Queensland's Western Downs produces 25 percent of the nation's watermelons. Held in the heat of February events include melon smashing, melon skiing and melon ironman and ironwoman of the year. There is also pip spitting and melon tossing. Melon bungee, bullseye, ball games and eating as well as buskers, live entertainment and markets add to the fun. In 2011 it will run from February 17 to 20. Visit www.melonfest.com.au
for more information.
on the Spencer Gulf is a major tuna fishing area and the catch is very important to the town's economy. It's so important that each year the town has a Tunarama Festival which will be in its 49th year in 2010. Once the fleet has been blessed the fun begins. There are camel and helicopter rides, dance and performances, seafood and wine to enjoy and loads of other amusements.
The highlight of the festival is tuna and prawn tossing. It's open to men and women in two categories: athletic and amateur. Everyone is keen on a slice of the $7000 prize money. The world record for tuna tossing is 37.23m set in 1998 by Sean Carlin, an Olympian hammer thrower. Tunarama will be held from January 23 to 26, 2010. Visit www.tunarama.net for more information.
The Queenscliff Music Festival is an annual event. It started around 13 years ago to encourage tourism and people wanted more. It offers an eclectic mix of mainly Australian artists, but does feature international guests.
Two colourful circus marquees are the main stages and the Bellarine historic steam train is a venue with a difference. It's all about good music, food and wine and there's a kids' club to ensure everyone is entertained. It will run from November 27 to 29, 2009. Visit www.qmf.net.au for more information.
New South Wales
Each year, Singleton in the Hunter Valley
hosts Countryfest. One of the many events is a wife-carrying competition. Competitors race 240m on grass and there are and hurdles to go over and under. It ends with a run through 12mof 1.2m-deep water and trekking through a sandpit to the finish line.
There are several types of carrying permitted: piggyback, fireman's carry or the wife hangs upside down with her legs around her husband's shoulders, holding her husband's waist. There are really fantastic prizes being vied for and if you just can wait to enter, it will be on again on April 24, 2010. Participation costs $50. Visit home.exetel.com.au/countryfest for more information.