THE ENTIRE TOWN of Winton will become a festival site in April as visitors from across Australia and the world descend on Outback Queensland to celebrate the re-opening of the Waltzing Matilda Centre over four event-filled days that will also include an outback race meeting.
And in times of continuing drought, the entire Outback will benefit enormously from the influx of visitors and tourists. Longreach airport will feature heavily, with the largest aircraft able to land here — the 737-800 — already being scheduled around the event. Queensland Rail is gearing-up to transport all stage equipment and necessary facilities through to Winton to cater for the enormous influx that is expected.
Emergency Services based in Longreach are also extending their training to accommodate any unexpected incidents, and medical facilities are being planned ahead of the onslaught.
The event will run between Thursday, 19 and Sunday, 22 April.
With an amazing music festival line-up, including Jessica Mauboy, John Williamson, The Living End, Kip Moore (US), Lee Brice (US), Sheppard and many more already announced, it was announced yesterday that 30 new artists across all musical genres — from rock to dance to country and blues, plus bush balladeers, poets and storytellers — will perform in historic outback venues like The Winton Club, The Winton Hotel, North Gregory Hotel, Tattersalls Hotel. Even the Australian Age of Dinosaurs become part of the extravaganza.
Saturday is set to explode with an outback race meeting, that includes five exciting local races, bookmakers and fashions on the field that will feature $10,000 in prizes, with the authentic country experience included in the price of an individual Way Out West Fest ticket.
“Winton’s Way Out West Fest is more than just a music festival,” said Winton Mayor Gavin Baskett.
“This event is about celebrating everything that’s great about life in the outback — from our songs and poems like Waltzing Matilda, through to our iconic Winton Races, our friendly locals and, of course, our iconic pubs.
“If you haven’t yet sat in an outback pub for a beer with a local, Winton’s Way Out West Fest is the best opportunity to tick it off your bucket list,” he said.
Way Out West Fest will also serve as the outback launch of James Blundell’s new single, ‘Way Out West’, a reworking of his 1992 hit which became the highest selling Australian country music single of the 90s, cementing him as country music royalty. The new version features James joining forces with good friends Adam Brand, Tania Kernaghan, Brewn, Bec Lavelle, Ben Ransom and Paul Costa. The song will join with the iconic Waltzing Matilda as the event showcases two of Australia’s musical treasures.
After it’s devastating destruction by fire in 2015, the newly rebuilt $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre will be the pride of Western Queensland once more as the festival marks the re-opening of an outback icon. The Centre is a landmark celebrating the resilience of the local community as well as the spirit of what is our unofficial national anthem.
James Blundell places the reason for the Way Out West Fest in perspective: “What Winton has gone through after the fire in redesigning and rebuilding the Waltzing Matilda Centre demonstrates the community thread that is evident in people in country communities.
“Only in the bush would you find folks with the tenacity to rebuild and say to the whole of Australia that their country pride and identity will not waver despite the adversity.
“I look forward to not only celebrating the Waltzing Matilda Centre, but also the entire region and everything that’s great about living Way Out West,” he said.
The music will flow right across the week-end, including at the North Gregory Hotel, the site of the first public recital of Waltzing Matilda by Banjo Patterson himself, as well as seven other venues across the town, including the ‘pop-up’ Johnny Ringo’s Outback Pool Saloon at the Winton Bowls Club, complete with mechanical bull, surf board, swimming pools (with lifeguards) and heaps more.
Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to participate in the Queensland outback’s biggest ever Pub Choir to sing their own rendition of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, as well as song-writing workshops hosted by QMusic for country kids who may well be our next Jessica Mauboy, James Blundell or even Banjo Patterson.
The Crack Up Sisters will also be taking over Winton Memorial Park with a stunning display of whip cracking and acrobatics sure to satisfy all ages.
Tickets for Way Out West Fest are selling fast, with a final allocation now on sale. With travel agents providing easy flight, ground transport, camping and other travel packages and options, Winton’s Way Out West Fest is the perfect excuse to get out and explore Australia.
The Queensland Government is proud to support Winton’s Way Out West Fest through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar, showcasing Australia’s best live events in Australia’s best destinations.
About the Waltzing Matilda Centre:
The Waltzing Matilda Centre is the first museum in the world dedicated to a song — ‘Waltzing Matilda’ was written by ‘Banjo’ Paterson whilst holidaying in Winton on Dagworth Station. Legend has it that this song was first performed in public at North Gregory Hotel. Opened in 1998 and becoming an icon of the area, the original centre was destroyed by fire in 2015. The brand new $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre was designed by award winning Cox Architects and built by A. Gabrielli Constructions, it will once again assist the heartbeat of the outback when it re-opens with Winton’s Way Out West Fest in April 2018.
About Winton’s Way Out West Fest
Winton’s Way Out West Fest is a celebration of the outback, bringing together some of the world’s best artists for a celebration of culture and music. This is a camping festival utilising the Showgrounds and a pop-up tent city, with Winton’s population expected to swell from 1,000 to 6,000 over the four days of the event from April 19 to 22. The festival will include Jessica Mauboy, John Williamson The Living End, Kip Moore (USA), Lee Brice (USA), Sheppard, Busby Marou, Russell Morris, The Black Sorrows, Pierce Brothers + more.
Tickets are on sale now from www.wintonswayoutwestfest.com.au
For more information, call the Way Out West Fest hotline on 1300-MATILDA.