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Quirky Queensland Events and Festivals

From Dunny Races to Pumpkin Rolls


Where else but Queensland? Actually, no. You'll find numerous interesting, quirky or unique events and festivals throughout Australia, but let's start at Australia's northeast in Australia's second largest state.

Here are some of the fun events and festivals you can enjoy in Queensland:


Dunny race at the Ettamogah Pub, courtesy Aussie World
Dunny race at the Ettamogah Pub, courtesy Aussie World

Australia Day Dunny Races

What's a dunny? Mate, that's an outhouse or outdoor toilet, and on Australia Day, January 26, the wonderfully crooked structure that is the Ettamogah Pub on the Sunshine Coast holds its annual dunny races. Other events include keg lifting and mullet tossing. The Ettamogah Pub features a bar and grill, so there's always a place for a beer or two.

The Ettamogah Pub is at Aussie World, a theme park featuring more than 30 rides and games, along the Bruce Highway on Frizzo Rd in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Palmview. The Ettamogah Pub is based on the cartoon creation of Ken Maynard (1928-1998) regularly published in the now defunct Australasian Post.

Australian Cockroach Races

Also held yearly on Australia Day are the cockroach races at Brisbane's Story Bridge Hotel. The races have been held for more than 30 years and now involves the closing of Rotherham St for a day and using the restaurant carpark as an entertainment venue with tiered seating and a stage with live bands performing throughout the day. As well, there's a dunking machine in the street which adds immeasurably to the day's fun. Fourteen cockroach races are held during the day

The Story Bridge Hotel is at 200 Main St, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, a stone's throw away from Story Bridge where bridge climbs are held daily.


A Queensland youngster tucks into watermelon in Chinchilla
A Queensland youngster tucks into watermelon in Chinchilla © Tourism Queensland

Chinchilla Melon Festival

And why not? Why not celebrate the watermelon? The Queensland town of Chinchilla supplies Australia with a quarter of its melons when they are in season so, yes, the townsfolk and the town's visitors hold the Melon Festival every two years, and you join in any or all watermelon events including melon skiing, melon bungy, melon bull's-eye, or even simply spitting melon pips.


Best butt competition at Julia Creek, copyright Tourism Queensland
Best butt competition at Julia Creek © Tourism Queensland

Dirt and Dust Festival

The Dirt and Dust Festival is held each year (in 2012 from April 20 to 22) in the tiny Queensland town of Julia Creek. Highlights of the festival include the Dirt and Dust Triathlon, Australia's Best Butt competition, and bog snorkeling where competitors don snorkels and flippers to complete two lengths of a "peat bog."

Julia Creek is some 664 kilometres west of Townsville on the main road, Overlanders Way, to Mt Isa. Julia Creek, which in 2006 had a population of 368 according to that year's census, has a library, swimming pool, visitor information centre, an arts council, and an airport.


Tree of Knowledge Festival

From May 4 to 7 this year (2012), the Queensland town of Barcaldine, sometimes referred to as the Garden City of the West, holds its Tree of Life Festival. The festival takes its name from tree of knowledge under which workers from the 1891 shearers' strike gathered in their campaign for labor rights, with the Eureka flag flying over their camp. The Tree of Knowledge festival has become a colorful annual Outback event, inclding goat racing and sheep shearing.

Barcaldine, at the junction of the Capricorn and Matilda (Landsborough) Highways, is some 520 kilometres by road west of Rockhampton.

Captain Cook 1770 Festival

Reenactment photo by Coastal Rag, courtesy Captain Cook 1770 Festival
Reenactment photo by Coastal Rag, courtesy Captain Cook 1770 Festival

The Captain Cook 1770 Festival in the uniquely-named town of 1770 is a commemoration of Captain James Cook's first landing on Queensland soil in — when else? — 1770. The festival normally includes a street parade and a reenactment of Captain Cook's landing on what is now known as Queensland's Discovery Coast where the town of 1770 has grown. All manner of entertainment may feature in the celebrations which this year take place on May 26 and 27.

The town of 1770 lies some 120 kilometres north of the city of Bundaberg, home of Bundaberg Rum, on the Central Queensland Coast. The Discovery Coast, Bustard Head and Eurimbula National Park may be explored from 1770 on a LARC tour. As well there are day cruises to Lady Elliot Island and other parts of the outer Great Barrier Reef.

Goomeri Pumpkin Festival

Doing the Pumpkin Roll, copyright Tourism Queensland
Doing the Pumpkin Roll © Tourism Queensland

On the last Sunday in May, the town of Goomeri in Queensland's South Burnett region, holds its annual Pumpkin Festival with a variety of entertainment acts and concerts, and — of course — pumpkin competitions. The biggest, heaviest pumpkins compete with one another for size, and the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll gets young and old rolling pumpkins down Policeman's Hill to see which one goes the longest distance.

Goomeri is at the junction of the Burnett, Bunya and Wide Bay Highways, some 76 kilometres west of Gympie by road, and 235 kilometres from Brisbane.


Porcupine Gorge National Park Challenge

It is a challenge to "run" the spectacular eight-kilometre course set against a backdrop of colored sandstone cliffs, vine forest and deep waterholes in Porcupine Gorge National Park. This year's Porcupine Gorge Challenge takes place on June 16, with the Mount Walker Fun Run the folowing day, June 17.

Porcupine Gorge is about an hour's drive north from the town of Hughenden. The town itself is on the Flinders Highway some 376 kilometres west of Townsville and 1400 kilometres northwest of Brisbane. Event and other information at Flinders Discovery Centre, 37 Gray St, Hughenden.


Windorah International Yabby Races

People heading to the Birdsville Races can take in the International Yabby Races in the nearby Queensland town of Windorah. The annual yabby races, which include the Barcoo Bolt, Thomson Trot, Kyabra Kanter and Coopers Creek Cup, are held in Windorah's main street on the Wednesday night before the Birdsville event. Buy a yabby to join the races which take place on August 29 this year.

Windorah is 386 kilometres by road east of Birdsville and 1200 kilometres west of Brisbane. The Outback town of Birdsville in far west Queensland lies east of the Simpson Desert and north of the South Australia border. Among its claims to fame are the two-day Birdsville Races in September.


Winton's Dunny Derby, copyright Tourism Queensland
Winton's Dunny Derby © Tourism Queensland

Winton Outback Festival

The biennial Outback Festival in Winton, birthplace of Qantas and Waltzing Matilda, is what you could call a dinki-di ocker (in the best sense of the word) festival. Yes, there's the Dunny Derby, whip cracking contests, wool bale rolling, an Outback Ute Muster. and Iron Man and Iron Woman competitions. The next Winton Outback Festival is from September 24 to 28, 2013.

The town of Winton is in central western Queensland along the Landsborough Highway some 1500 kilometres by road northwest of Brisbane and 470 kilometres roughly southeast of Mt Isa in true Outback country.


A Woodford Folk Festival performance, copyright Tourism Queensland
A Woodford Folk Festival performance © Tourism Queensland

Woodford Folk Festival

Entertainment from more than 2000 performers at 400 events make the Woodford Folk Festival one of the largest folk festivals in the world with music and dance events featuring a variety of performance styles, genres and nationalities. The festival takes place every year from December 27 to January 1, culminating with the Fire Event on New Year's Day.

Woodford is some 75 kilometres by road from Brisbane. Take the Bruce Highway north, turning into D'Aguilar Highway after Caboolture, heading northwest to Woodford.

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