10 Unique Australian Festivals

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5. The Elvis Festival, Parkes, NSW

You'll only find more Elvises in Graceland or Vegas. Photo courtesy of NRMA Driver's Seat.
You’ll only find more Elvises in Graceland or Vegas. Photo courtesy of NRMA Driver’s Seat.

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

The sky over Lake Burley-Griffith comes alive on Skyfire. Image courtesy of Beau Giles.
The sky over Lake Burley Griffin comes alive on Skyfire. Image courtesy of Beau Giles.

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

Like something out of Mad Max, the Deni Ute Muster is one of the more unique Australian festivals.
Like something out of Mad Max, the Deni Ute Muster is one of the more unique Australian festivals.

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

Thousands descend upon Tamworth to see one of Australia's biggest music festivals. Image courtesy of Top Tourist Parks.
Thousands descend upon Tamworth to see one of Australia’s biggest music festivals. Image courtesy of Top Tourist Parks.

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

Only in Australia. Image from Wikipedia.
Only in Australia. Image from Wikipedia.

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.

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4 comments

  1. I have been to the beer can regatta in Darwin twice.. 2004 and 2014.. was a lot smaller last year.. And I think there actually is a risk of crocs on the beaches of Darwin..

    • Yikes! I’d hope they checked the beach thoroughly before encouraging people to leap in with only some empty beer cans to protect them, surely. Haha

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