5. The Elvis Festival, Parkes, NSW
For the life of me, I can’t tell what Elvis Presley has to do with the sleepy little town of Parkes – but each year in January the town’s population literally doubles as people trek to the city for a five day celebration of The King.
From humble beginnings as a simple tribute show back in 1993, the Parkes Elvis Festival now draws over 15,000 visitors over five days and features tribute performances, authentic Elvis memorabilia, and a variety of other weird and wonderful Elvis related events.
For those with an interest in space exploration, the Parkes Observatory was responsible for relaying footage of the Apollo 11 moon landing to the world, and is well worth a visit.
4. Skyfire, Canberra, ACT
Australia’s capital gets in on the game with their annual celebration of fireworks, Skyfire.
As the only state in Australia in which it is legal to purchase fireworks, the Australian Capital Territory rubs it in the faces of everybody else by blasting several dozen tonnes of the Chinese sky flowers into the air on a cool March evening.
It’s not quite on par with Sydney’s world famous New Year’s Fireworks, but it’s an impressive display of pyrotechnics that draws upwards of 100,000 each year.
3. Deniliquin Ute Muster, Deniliquin, NSW
For those playing at home, a ‘ute’ is a truck with a flat bad tray behind it. Deniliquin is, unsurprisingly, the name of a town in Australia. Colloquially known as the Deni Ute Muster, it’s one of Australia’s most uniquely Aussie festivals.
This annual celebration of Australia’s most versatile working truck sets Guinness World Records every year for ‘Most Utes in One Place’, but is much more than just a celebration of the popular farm vehicle.
Live country music, precision driving, circle work, rodeos, and pretty much anything else you’d hope to see at a celebration of rural Australian life.
2. The Country Musical Festival, Tamworth, NSW
I was torn between including Tamworth’s signature event and the famous Gympie Muster out of Queensland, but the presence of a giant freaking golden guitar gives Tamworth the edge.
Aussies might not be quite as crazy about their country music as our American friends, but each year the hot, dry town of Tamworth floods with country music enthusiasts out to celebrate Australian country music.
The weeklong Tamworth Country Music Festival is a country music lover’s wet dream. I’m talking over 800 performers, 4000 shows, and as many as 600 buskers stretched across the town’s main street.
The event’s highlight is the Australian Country Music Awards, which sees a who’s who of Aussie country music performers come together to celebrate the industry.
1. Henley –on-Todd Regatta, Henley, SA
Another odd yet iconic race, the annual Henley-on-Todd Regatta is held in the land-locked and very dry town of Henley. As all great things did, it started out as a joke on the British and has since become an institution.
Events include a beach sprint, sand skiing, the Tour de Todd, and a number of other nautically themed boat races taking place entirely on dry, dusty land.
It’s a perfect picture of Australia’s irreverent sense of humour, and encourages attendants to participate as well.
Have you been to any of these weird and wonderful Aussie festivals?
Do you have a suggestion for a quirky Aussie festival I should have included?