Outback Festival - Winton

We based our whole Outback Queensland trip around the Outback Festival in Winton, all our planning had been made around and led up to us getting there and enjoying the festival. We left Longreach behind and made the two hour trip to Winton along the main Road Train route in Outback Queensland. Road Trains with four trailers were now common place and seemed to travel in convoy, over 50 metres long and when the back trailer starts swaying it can be pretty intimidating.


We navigated the Road Train infestation along one of the highways also famous for the Min Min Lights and made it to Winton in one piece. We pulled into our home for the next week, setup camp and made tracks to checkout the tiny rural town and see what we were in store for over the festival. Winton has a full time population of around 800 and the festival sees it grow to almost 10 times that, the thing we have noticed about these small towns is they really know how to capitalise on and take advantage of visitors. The main street of the town was already closed off, the food vans had shifted in and the main stage was already set up. The main street consisted of about half a kilometre, packed into this short distance was a half dozen opal shops, three massive two storey pubs and all the other multi purpose shops you find in small towns, each usually doing the job of two or three shops that you would find any where else.


The town was filling up fast, all of the campgrounds were full, every second house had tents and camper trailers setup, the showgrounds were full and the free camps all through and around the town were full too. The Biannual event was a big drawcard for the region and even with interstate borders firmly shut it looked like it was still going to be busy. The kids and I were booked in to compete in the Outback Iron Series, a week long competition of Outback Inspired Events and they were due to start on day one so we headed in to the event office to complete our registrations and see the list of events we had to complete. The Kids had swag tossing, hay bale rolling, whip cracking, a race through the centre of the town and all finishing on the last day with pulling a mini up the main street. As part of my events I had to carry fencing equipment through a course, a race through the local bog hole, another course over hay bales carrying railway irons, wool bale rolling, swag tossing, pushing a 4wd up the main street and all finishing with a team truck pull in the centre of town. All of these events were tied in with a massive amount of other entertainment, all of which led to a full week at the festival.


The whole week was mid to high 30's but the dry heat made it bearable, the organisers really got it right by hosting all of the physical events first thing in the morning. The kids and I had some good wins through some of the events, bringing in a couple of medals to remember the festival but one of all of our absolute highlights was Nathan Griggs, the Guinness World Record Holder, Whip cracking Champion. He put on an absolutely amazing show and even got the crowd involved, dragging unsuspecting audience members up to take part. Another highlight was the Outback Dunny Derby, local teams built Long drop dunny's on wheels and raced around a track over three rounds until the champion was decided. This years champion was the team of the local Winton mayor, the mayor was highly involved in events throughout the whole week, I would say he would definitely be one of the most active mayors to get involved with community events in Australia. The Dunny Derby was capped off with live music from country musicians including James Blundell, famous for the song Way out West, extremely fitting for the Winton Festival.


We made some new friends and memories in our week at Winton, the Outback festival was a success and we will definitely be back. Now onto Julia Creek and then the Gulf.

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