IT’S BEEN COINED quirky, strange and even weird by some, but the locals just call it, the “Outback Festival.” It has been luring visitors from all over Australia and overseas since 1972 with its unique blend of outback themed events and authentic Aussie experiences, and in 2017 is planned to literally deliver a giant.
The biennial Outback Festival is staged in the tiny town of Winton, north-west of Longreach in the heart of Outback Queensland. Home to just over 900 residents, its population swells to over 8,000 during the festival — which is being held this year from September 19 to 23, 2017.
Famous for its hilarious signature event, the Quilton Australian Dunny Derby, this entertaining event involves teams of five pulling and pushing the thunderbox (dunny) over a 200 metre course, with a $5,000 prize pool at the final finish line.
“Our theme for the 2017 festival is Giants of the Outback”, explains event director, Robyn Stephens OAM. “We’re highlighting our home grown giants, whether they’re giant in size or giant in spirit. It could be anything from the big red kangaroo, our prehistoric dinosaurs to our giant courageous outback spirit, that gave birth to Qantas and Waltzing Matilda.
“To deliver on this year’s theme, we’ll be bringing textile artisan, Wanda Bennet, of Cross Roads Arts, to Winton to work with the community to create giant puppetry that will feature throughout the festival.
“It’s all part of an incredible line-up of concerts and performers that participate in the festival.”
Robyn Stephens said that pending the official entertainment announcement due in the coming months, she can reveal that one of Australia’s most revered didgeridoo players, William Barton, will be performing live with the MSB Didge Kids from the Atherton Tablelands in Tropical North Queensland.
Other Outback Festival highlights include an Outback Ironman, Ironwoman and Iron Junior competitions and the gruelling, toughest and flattest cycle in the Outback, the 100km (100 mile) Outback Century Cycle Challenge.
There’s also a swag of novelty Australiana events, such as whip-cracking championships, bushman’s egg throwing, strongman challenges, wool bale rolling, and the True Blue Sports, a test of classic Aussie sporting skills like kicking a footie, darts, bowls, marbles and cow pat discus
Combine this with live bands, little swaggies, kid’s events and a sunset dining experience overlooking Winton’s stunning landscape, this is an Aussie festival not to be missed in 2017.
Winton really does welcome its visitors, and to cater for the township’s residential swell, a special festival camping ground for caravans, RVs and campers is set up in the showgrounds. For those looking for a little more comfort, a tent city, called “Club Paterson”, is available at one of the local schools, where tents and beds with linen packages are available.
The five-day Outback Festival is held during the Queensland school holidays in Spring, the best time of the year to enjoy the Australian Outback, when the days and nights are mild.
Looking forward to seeing you in Winton mate — it’s goanna be great!
Winton’s claim to fame: It is the birthplace of Qantas and home to Australia’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum, just 24km from ‘downtown’ Winton. Also nearby is Lark Quarry Conservation Park, a 93-million-year-old fossilised dinosaur stampede, the only one of its kind in the world. It’s here Australia’s unofficial national anthem, Waltzing Matilda, written by AB (Banjo) Paterson, was first performed in public at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton’s main street.