EVERY TWO YEARS the population of Tara swells from 1,000 residents to a multicultural mix of 12,000 to witness a classic rural event that combines culture with camel racing. Yet it’s so close to Brisbane.
The Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races takes place just 3.5 hours west of the state capital, is in close proximity to Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles and Moonie, and accessible via the New England and Newell Highways from the more distant communities beyond Moree and Goondiwindi.
While travellers come to experience the excitement of the camel races, it’s the eclectic mix of cultural entertainment on the tracksides that continues to amaze and surprise them. Festivalgoers encounter street performers, cuisine, art workshops and entertainment from across the globe — altogether a most unlikely and extraordinary experience to find in a small, inland country town.
While colourful and exotic multi-cultures feature prominently, the program also delivers on the classic Aussie larrikin fun people have come to love and expect from country events. The three-day non- stop festival program includes bush poetry, the hilarious yabbie races, nightly campfires and, of course, the unpredictability of the camels in the races themselves.
“Even we don’t know what to expect from our camel racing competitors, or the yabbie races for that matter — but that’s the fun of it”, explains Festival President, Mr Richard Thornbury. “Both creatures can be a bit unpredictable, so you may back a camel that runs in the opposite direction, or punt on a yabbie that decides to sprint, albeit in slow motion, for the finish line.
“We are incredibly proud of how our small community pulls-together this country event with its multicultural twist. It’s very satisfying to see our local businesses booming that week, when usually they are doing it a bit tough here in the bush.”
Mr Thornbury explained that because the town expects many travellers to make a long week-end of it, “we’re offering a $25 per site capped fee on camping so they can stay up to five nights for no extra cost.”
There are 100 acres of camping spots to choose from — for those pulling a caravan, or travelling with an RV, campervan or tent — and they can pick their spot and make a comfortable home base from which to enjoy the full three days of entertainment.
Highlights of the Festival program:
Friday, August 4: Evening cultural entertainment and cuisine, fireworks.
Saturday, August 5: Camel races, cultural performances, workshops, kids’ corner, live bands.
Sunday, August 6: Camel races, yabbie races, cultural performances, workshops, food.
Tip for travellers:
For those travelling in Southern Queensland Country at this time of year, plan a touring holiday around this and other great events, such as the Opera at Jimbour. A free performance by Opera Queensland is being staged at the historic Jimbour Homestead, just north of Tara, on Saturday 22 July 22, 2015. www.jimbour.com/opera
And for more regional visitor information, please visit www.southernqueenslandcountry.com.au
Photo credits: Stephen Mowbray Photography.