By Andrea Beattie
From melon-throwing and camel races to bog-snorkelling and pumpkin bowling, Australia is home to some unique events.
Australians are well known for our sense of humour and fun-loving nature. It’s little wonder then that we host some of the world’s quirkiest festivals including this weekend’s Chinchilla Melon Festival.
CHINCHILLA MELON FESTIVAL
When: 16-19 Feb
This weird and wacky festival has put the small Queensland town of Chinchilla on the map, attracting visitors from all over the world. Located in the Darling Downs region about a three-and-a-half-hour drive west of Brisbane, Chinchilla is known as the Melon Capital of Australia, producing a quarter of our country’s watermelons, honeydew melons and rockmelons. The locals believe that’s more than enough reason to celebrate and they do it in true Australian style – by throwing the world’s largest melon festival.
Started in 1994 by local businessmen to lift the town’s spirits after a period of severe drought, the festival now attracts more than 10,000 visitors every two years. It’s jam-packed with art displays, stalls, melon farm tours, parades, storytelling, markets and live entertainment. But it’s the unique melon events that make it a stand-out.
The real crowd pleasers are the Melon Skiing, where competitors squish their feet into watermelons and slip and slide their way to the finish line, and the Melon Chariot Race in which teams compete in chariots they’ve made from melon-packing cartons, pallets and, of course, melons. You’ll also see some monster melons at the Big Melon Weigh In as growers try to beat Bernie and Matt Davies’ long-standing 87.5kg (193lb) record for the festival’s heaviest melon. Other events include the Slip, Dip and Pull Melon Tug-O-War, Melon Ironman and Ironwoman obstacle course challenge, Melon Pip Spitting Contest and Celebrity Melon Eating. Bring your sense of humour and a poncho, as things get very sticky.
When: 18 Feb
The historic Tasmanian town of Evandale, just a 20-minute drive south of Launceston, has a reputation for hosting the most competitive penny farthing races in the world. During the National Penny Farthing Championships, the town throws a country fair and period-themed festival to celebrate as riders from all over the world race these grand old cycles of yesteryear around the village circuit.