5 mins

5 quirky reasons to visit outback Queensland, Australia

From Queensland’s melony answer to La Tomatina to camel races and opera, there are more reasons than vast red landscapes and big open skies to visit outback Queensland

Melon skiing in Chinchilla (Cathy Finch)

1: Boulia Camel Races

Racing camels (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Racing camels (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Held every July in Queensland’s extraordinary Outback, the Boulia Camel Races are a sight not to be missed. The 3-day event is packed with exhilarating entertainment including the famous camel races.

The first rounds take place on Saturday ahead of the finals on Sunday to determine who will be crowned winner of the silver and gold cups. Throughout the day there’s entertainment and family fun including foot races and other comic events.

One of the other major spectacles of the weekend is the Camel Tagging event, famous across the world, in which contestants have to first stick some tape on a grumpy camel, and then remove it again. The festival culminates with a firework display and concert. 

When: July

More information: bouliacamelraces.com.au

2: Goomeri Pumpkin Festival

Lining up for the notorious pumpkin hat race (Sam Walker)

Lining up for the notorious pumpkin hat race (Sam Walker)

The Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, as its name suggests, is held in Goomeri every May. A 3-hour drive from Brisbane, this free festival is perfect for families with entertainment and competitions including the famous Great Australian Pumpkin Roll™ on Policeman’s Hill, best decorated pumpkin and the pumpkin pageant.

Other activities include the pumpkin power shot put, pumpkin bowls and pumpkin pull. There’s also a parade, live music and plenty of tasty food (the majority of course featuring pumpkin!).

When: May

More information: goomeripumpkinfestival.com.au

3: Birdsville Big Red Bash

Crowds gather in Birdsville for the Big Red Bash (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Crowds gather in Birdsville for the Big Red Bash (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Every July, Birdsville’s iconic Big Red Bash kicks off under the sweeping open skies of Queensland’s Simpson Desert. Dubbed the world’s most remote music festival, this concert is a uniquely Australian outback experience suitable for all ages. 

Since its launch in 2013, the music, combined with desert camping under the star-speckled canopy, has made it a must-do bucket list event. Whilst at the festival guests can also enjoy scenic helicopter flights as well as delicious food from a number of different vendors. 

When: July

More information: www.bigredbash.com.au   

4: Chinchilla Melon Festival

Man amongst melons in Chinchilla (Cathy Finch)

Man amongst melons in Chinchilla (Cathy Finch)

There and a half hours north of Brisbane, Chinchilla is known as the ‘Melon Capital’ of Australia, and is home to the biennial Chinchilla Melon Festival in February. Attracting thousands of visitors every year, the festival celebrates the region’s watermelon farming with a number of quirky events including the Big Melon Weigh-in, the Melon Rodeo and the Melon Dash for Cash. 

The Big Melon Weigh-in is synonymous with the event and the largest ever recorded was a whopping 87.5kg back in 2007. Those with nerves of steel can also enter into the Melon Rodeo to be in with a chance of winning thousands of dollars in the bull-ride. 

A crowd favourite, the Melon Dash for Cash and Skiing, is a messy and exciting part of the festival which is unmissable. Watch as participants try to out-run their competitors with a giant melon or use fruit to ski the furthest distance.

When: February

More information: melonfest.com.au

5: Opera in the Outback

Belting it out in the outback (undara.com.au)

Belting it out in the outback (undara.com.au)

Opera in the Outback, or the ‘Undara Experience’, sees hundreds of visitors descend on Undara Experience for three nights of very unique entertainment in the incredible setting of the purpose-built Ooramin Place Amphitheatre. 

The first half of this magical event is enjoyed as the sun sets, turning the western sky into an explosion of colour. The second half is enjoyed under a million stars.

The program, which includes a lighter, non-opera performance on the Thursday, followed by two nights of opera, has amazed and entertained audiences since its inception in 2001. It's an experience that visitors say they will treasure forever.

When: September

More information: undara.com

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