With the new year in full swing, it’s time to fulfill those ‘new you’ affirmations, and do something a little out of the ordinary. From satisfying your Game of Thrones fantasy to embracing how to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Queensland has some of the most unusual and unique events on its calendar in 2017. Here’s some ideas of places you can travel to this new year to immerse yourself in the weird and wonderful:
The 35th Annual Australia Day Cockroach Races, Brisbane
Date: 26 January, 2017
Cheer on Queensland’s biggest pests at the annual Australia Day Cockroach Races at Brisbane’s Story Bridge Hotel. Now in its 35th year, the event sees 14 heats of cockroaches’ scurry to the finish line, with prizes such as ‘Best Team Costume’, and ‘Miss Cocky’ to be won. The venue is decked out in true sporting arena style, complete with stadium seating and corporate boxes, giving everyone the chance to enjoy the races and live entertainment.
Australia Day Dunny Races, Sunshine Coast
Date: 26 January, 2017
Let down your hair and show off your national pride this Australia Day at the famous Ettamogah Pub at Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast. Grab your mates and a port-a-loo, and have a crack at chasing the finish line in the annual ‘Dunny Races’. Let your Aussie flag wave high and try your hand at keg lifting or mullet tossing, plus you can enjoy live music from midday.
Chinchilla Melon Festival
Date: 16-19 February, 2017
Where’s the one place you can compete in watermelon-fueled obstacle events? Only at the Chinchilla Melon Festival of course, where melon-choly is not on the menu. Thousands of cheery patrons will flock to the small town to participate in sweet events such as melon skiing, melon bungy, melon ironman and a melon chariot race.
Julia Creek Dirt ‘n’ Dust Festival, Innisfail
Date: 7-9 April, 2017
Get down and dirty (literally) at the Julia Creek Dirt ‘n’ Dust Festival. Shake your booty and show off your best dance moves in the internationally renowned ‘Australia’s Best Bum’ competition, which began as a time-filler. Join the hordes of spectators who flock to the small town of Julia Creek to watch the festival in full swing with its various triathlons (the swim leg takes place in near bog conditions), horse races and infamous Bog Snorkelling Championships, which see’s participants swim through a trench of mud without visibility, or the ability to use their arms. 2016 marks the 23rd anniversary for the Julia Creek Dirt & Dust Festival, so strap yourself in for a party like no other in the Australian Outback.
The Great Wheelbarrow Race, Mareeba
Date: 19-21 May, 2017
This gruelling 60-kilometre race is designed to honour the pioneering miners of the early 19th century, as competitors’ race their wheelbarrows to the finish line. Over 450 competitors join this event decked out in wacky costumes to raise funds for local charities and small communities, with a whopping $200,000 raised in 2016. Sign up as a team and take turns running along this steep terrain to reach the outback town of Almaden.
Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, Sunshine Coast
Date: 28 May, 2017
Get your pumpkins at the ready, because the Great Australian Pumpkin Roll is coming back to town at the Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, for its 20th year. Put your best foot (and big, orange veggie) forward in the pumpkin lawn bowls and pumpkin shotput competitions. Make a weekend of it, and book a spot at the Heritage Dinner Dance on Saturday 27 May and enjoy a delicious country-style feed and pre-festival fun.
Mary Poppins Festival, Maryborough
Date: 23 June – 2 July, 2017
Put your babysitting skills to the test at the Mary Poppins Festival. Parade your finest hat and umbrella, and put on your most comfortable shoes to dash a pram to the finish line in the Great Nanny Race. You’ll also be able to jazz-up your cleaning routine in the Chimney Sweep Challenge, raise your voice in the Mary’s River Cruise Singalong. Mary Poppin’s author, P.L. Travers, was born in Maryborough in 1899, and this year’s 10-day program will highlight storytelling for all ages through various art forms, such as music concerts, pop-up performances and art installations, allowing merrymakers to be a part of the Maryborough Story Trail experience.
Big Red Run, Birdsville
Date: 24-29 June, 2017
Man up for Australia’s first and only 250-kilometre running race and to make conditions harder, it is set in the blistering Simpson Desert. Competitors race 40-kilometers a day through blistering heat, stomp through sinking sand and camp out at night in freezing winter conditions. Not exhausted by the day’s race? Evening entertainment and camp-fire cooking are put on by event organisers for competitors to enjoy. Multiple categories are available to choose from, ranging from the main 250-kilometre event to a smaller 42-kilometre desert dash.
Abbey Medieval Festival, AbbeyStowe
Date: 8-9 July, 2017
Whether you fancy yourself as a knight, a damsel or maybe even the court jester, The Abbey Medieval Festival in Caboolture will have you dining, dancing and jousting your way into the past. Celebrated on the 7-8 of July you can enjoy medieval delicacies of kings and queens of old while watching dramatisations of days gone by. Even the kids will believe they were born in the wrong era with a wide range of workshops designed to teach them all about the medieval world.
VIVA Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast
Date: 7-16 July, 2017
What do you call a group of Elvis Presley tribute artists? A gaggle of Elvi. And you will find them rocking it out for the coveted Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist crown at VIVA Surfers Paradise. Relive the toe-tapping tunes of the 50s and 60s with live performances, marvel at an array of vintage cars at show ‘n’ shines, and even renew your vowels in a mass ceremony on the beach, officiated by Elvis marriage celebrant, Dean Vegas.
Boulia Camel Races, Outback
Date: 14-17 July, 2017
A hidden gem of outback Queensland is home to the Boulia Camel Races, a wacky and wonderful 4-day event held from the 14 – 17 July 2014. From belly dancing to sky diving, camel rides to market stalls, this festival is absolutely jam packed with way-out things to see and do, culminating in the Quarter-Mile Flyer and the Camel Cup races. Known as the ‘Melbourne Cup’ of camel racing, see these majestic creatures hurtle down 1500m of red dust, alongside plenty of live entertainment for the whole family.
Jumpers and Jazz Festival in July, Warwick
Date: 20-30 July, 2017
As one of the few places in Queensland where jumpers are a necessity in winter, Warwick comes alive from 20-30 July to celebrate the thrill of the chill. Combining cleverness and creativity, the citizens lovingly dress 150 deciduous trees around the town in textiles for the official Jumpers and Jazz Festival. The strains of Queensland’s finest jazz ensembles waft from cafes and restaurants, while events like the Spring Beanie Exhibition and live chalk artistry add to the festivities.
Windorah International Yabby Races, Outback
Date: 30 August, 2017
Cheer on a sea of blue claw crustaceans as they crawl to the finish line in the Windorah International Yabby Races. Each of the ten yabbies in every race in named and auctioned off, as the main street outside the Western Star Hotel fills with eager punters and live music. The event has been running since 1998, all to raise much needed funds for the Royal Flying Doctors Association and local community groups, with auctions held for charitable organisations like Breast Cancer Research and Tie Up The Black Dog.