The best outback festivals

If you’re looking for some Aussie culture on your road trip you can’t go past an outback festival.

You can create some great memories on your next road trip if you attend one of Australia’s iconic outback festivals. Here are a five to consider:

The Birdsville Races

This outback Queensland racetrack is a claypan surrounded by sand dunes, and on the first Saturday in September, thousands of people drive thousands of kilometres to watch dust get kicked up. There’s not much in the way of accommodation, so be prepared to camp out. The races are of secondary importance to celebrating and camaraderie. This year they are run on Friday 31 August and Saturday 1 September.

The Henley-on-Todd Regatta

Alice Springs lacks one key thing for boat races – water. The Todd River is almost always dry, and therefore the locals improvise, hollowing out the bottoms of their rowing boats. This leads to competitors essentially wearing the boats and running, Flintstones-style, across the dry river bed. The regatta takes place on the third Saturday in August. This year it’s the 18th of August.

The Deniliquin Ute Muster

There is nothing more Australian country than the Deniliquin Ute Muster. Over the years, it has morphed from an attempt to break the world record for getting as many utes in one place, into a celebration of country Australiana. That means big name country acts on stage, monster truck rides, bull-riding, whip-cracking, a blue singlet count and hay bale loading against the clock. It takes place on the last weekend in September.

The Parkes Elvis Festival

The King isn’t dead. He’s hanging out in Parkes in the second week of January. Parkes, NSW, undergoes a retro makeover for the week, with thousands of people dressed either as Elvis or in 1950s gear. A tribute artist contest, rock ‘n’ roll dancing competitions and an Elvis-heavy street parade are among the main ingredients. And, you will definitely hear someone in a jumpsuit singing Suspicious Minds on stage.


Just under 300 kilometres from Brisbane, Chinchilla proudly boasts the title of the melon capital of Australia. And every second February, it celebrates this with Melonfest. Events include running with watermelons, “skiing” in boots carved from watermelons and no-hands watermelon eating contests.