Famed as the melon capital of Australia, this small town produces 25 percent of Australia’s watermelons. Chinchilla has just 5500 inhabitants but the population swells to more than 20,000 during the Melon Festival, held every second year.
However, the town is worth a visit year round. Wander down the main street, which is charming and lined with native cypress pines. Explore the milling past of the area at the historical museum. Adventure outside to fossick for petrified wood or cast a fishing line at the Chinchilla Weir for a chance to catch freshwater golden perch.
Every second February, the town turns into a red and green carnival celebrating watermelons. Fifteen tonnes of melons are used for the melon competitions, with another five tonnes being eaten during the festival.
Make sure to allocate time to watch some of the melon events. The dash for cash involves runners racing while carrying a large melon, pip spitting competitions are held throughout the day, and a tug of war is made a little more difficult as it takes place on a field littered with slippery melons. For comedic relief, nothing beats melon skiing, in which competitors squish each foot into a watermelon and ‘ski’ down the course.
When you start feeling peckish, join the melon-eating competition and try to eat a quarter of a watermelon as fast as you can, without hands. If you’d rather savour your meal, there’s a market with plenty of food stalls, as well as watermelon-themed merchandise for sale.
The next Melon Festival is February 16-19, 2017. You can find more information about the festival on the official website.
For such a small town, there’s plenty to see and do the rest of the year.
The whole family will enjoy visiting the Chinchilla Museum. The museum’s collection offers a glimpse into the area’s past as a milling town, with exhibits including steam engines, vintage cars, and period costumes. Several original buildings — including the old gaol, the original schoolhouse, and the first homestead — have been preserved.
Entrance to the Chinchilla White Gums Art Gallery is free. Inside, you’ll find local artwork as well as a significant collection of Australian artwork, including works by Rex Backhaus-Smith, Hugh Sawrey, and Grace Lithgow. Arts and crafts activities for children are offered, as well as workshops for adults to brush up on their artistic skills.
Join in the fun of the festival on a 4-day Chinchilla Melon Festival Tour from $924pp twin share. Visit RACQ Travel or contact one of our friendly travel consultants on 1300 096 166.
Image credits: Chinchilla Melon Fest.