10 Unique and Unmissable Local Australian Festivals
Here is a selection of ten of the most Australian festivals that you can imagine, where Aussie ingenuity goes hand in hand with our penchant for a party.
1) The Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Alice Springs, NT
Being in the middle of the desert on the world’s driest continent, Alice Springs is probably the last place you’d expect to see a regatta. And that’s sort of the point.
Started as a joke on the British (named after the famous Henley-on-Thames regatta), the regatta sees teams race boats Flintstone's style on the dry riverbed of the Todd, creating the sort of idiotic spectacle that you somewhat expect from outback Australia. A word of warning: Crowd participation is almost a non-negotiable at this event.
2) Deni Ute Muster, Deniliquin, NSW
Famously invented in order to ‘go to church on Sunday but carry the pigs to market on Monday’, outback Australia absolutely worships the ute. And nowhere is this more evident than at the Deni Ute Muster.
A chance for our regional population to get rowdy, the Deni Ute Muster is a celebration of all things Australian, with country music, precision driving displays and pallets of Bundaberg rum to enjoy.
3) Territory Day, Darwin, NT
The Northern Territory’s annual celebration of its own existence is really only famous for one thing – it’s the only day of the year that the locals are legally allowed to buy fireworks. And boy oh boy, do they make the most of it.
Head down to Fanny Bay, catch some live music, and do your best to finish the night with all of your fingers still attached.
4) The Elvis Festival, Parkes, NSW
While Parkes is most famous for housing the observatory that received the footage of the first moon landing, once a year the town collectively reaches for the sequined onesie.
What does Elvis have to do with Parkes? As far as anyone can tell, nothing. Is this yet another flimsy excuse for Australians to have a party? Almost definitely. The town doubles in size for the weekend, with a 15,000 strong Elvis parade the centrepiece.
5) The Camel Cup, Alice Springs, NT
In rural Australia, you work with what you’ve got. It’s fair to say that the debilitating heat of Alice Springs isn’t perfect weather for horses, so what’s the next best thing? Camels.
Camels run rampant throughout central Australia, so the inventive folk of Alice Springs jump on their backs once a year for the Camel Cup. A host of activities accompany the main event, with the rickshaw race being a highlight.
6) Tunarama, Port Lincoln, SA
‘But what if we make a festival about hammer-throwing a fish?’ some bright spark in Port Lincoln asked decades ago. And so it was.
Tunarama is a four day festival in the tuna-mad town of Port Lincoln, where the big fish takes centre stage. The tuna toss is the main event, with the current world record standing at an impressive 37 metres.
7) Golden Gumboot Festival, Tully, QLD
Holding the title as Australia’s wettest town, where many saw inconvenience, the people of Tully saw opportunity. As a nod to their title, the Golden Gumboot Festival was born.
The festival is all about the utilitarian and under-celebrated footwear, with all manner of parades and competitions held revolving around the humble boot. The town even erected an oversized gumboot monument in 2003.
8) The Beer Can Regatta, Darwin, NT
Taking the drinking and any-excuse-for-a-party attitude up another notch, Darwin’s Beer Can regatta has its contestants building boats out of empty tinnies, allowing its competitors to claim that they’ve ‘been training all year for this’.
The Beer Can regatta is very much a case of ‘it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game’.
9) Sea and Vines, McLaren Vale, SA
In contrast to the relative idiocy of most of this list, McLaren Vale’s Sea and Vines festival is actually just a really nice time. An opportunity to check out all of the cellar doors in one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, each winery puts on music, food, and all manner of other entertainment.
Beware the Adelaide day-trippers though, as many of the revellers will have hit their wine limit by 1 or 2pm.
10) Beanie Festival, Alice Springs, NT
Yes, another Northern Territory based event. They know what they’re doing.
For a town that is more often associated with blazing heat, a beanie festival seems an odd choice. But in truth, Alice Springs experiences some icy winter mornings. Is that an excuse for a festival I hear?
A charmingly odd event, the Alice Springs beanie festival offers attendees a mix of art installations, craft workshops and entertainment. For a unique slice of red centre life, you can’t do better.