The biennial Outback Festival is held each odd calendar year in September. The 2013 Outback Festival will be held from 24th - 28th September during the Queensland School vacation period. This unique festival held over five days draws past residents back to Winton to reminisce with friends and family and to enjoy a variety of gatherings and attractions. We always knew our event was unique, but the '100 Things To Do in Australia Before You Die' list from Australian Traveller magazine confirms it - the Outback Festival is one of 19 Queensland events and attractions to make this epic list coming in at no. 81. The final 100 was culled from an original list of 800.
The Outback Festival has been recognized since 1991 winning many Outback Queensland Tourism accolades. Our recent awards this year have been; Winner of the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards for Festivals and Events and finalist at the Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Awards. The Festival being one of three chosen from over 90 Queensland organizations for the Community of Year Award. Our Committee is very pleased to receive recognition for the huge effort placed into the event staged over five days by our many Volunteers.
The festival is known for its unique and quirky Aussie events, plus a carnival atmosphere that welcomes city and country families alike to enjoy the 40-odd events. September is one of the best times of the year to visit the Outback, with mild days and nights.
Winton is located in Outback Queensland on the Matilda Highway between Longreach and Mt Isa and is rich in history being the Home of Waltzing Matilda, birthplace of Qantas, and the world’s only recorded evidence of a Dinosaur stampede at Lark Quarry Conservation Park.
The Outback Festival was an initiative of the fledgling Winton Tourist Promotion Association. In November 1971 a community meeting was held, involving representatives from twenty-one groups, and supported by the Winton Shire Council, to discuss a proposal for a week of activities and entertainment.
The idea behind the proposal was to give support to the local economy which was struggling, due to the previous years of drought conditions in the late sixties, and to draw tourists and past residents back to Winton. The aim of the festival is to provide a holiday destination for families and all people from the very young to the elderly. The festival assists in attracting tourists to the region in conjunction with the Waltzing Matilda Centre - the home of our legend 'Banjo Paterson' who wrote Australia's unofficial anthem "Waltzing Matilda". The song was first performed at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton on the 6th April 1895.
The first Outback Festival was held in August 1972 and being so successful the decision was made to ‘go again’ in 1973, and has remained a biennial festival from that time.
Since 1987 the festival has grown in size showing a more professional approach, as larger corporate companies have favoured the Outback Festival with sponsorships enabling it to become recognized not only Australia wide but internationally as well.
The signature event of the festival is the 'Australian Dunny Derby' where competitors race their fastest ‘outhouses’ over a 250 metre track. Other major events are the Outback Iron Man and Iron Woman event, Masters of the Outback, Outback Iron Kid, Outback Whip Cracking Championships, Bushman’s Egg Throwing, Bush Poets breakfasts, World Crayfish Derby Race Meeting, True Blue Aussie Sports, Live Music Concerts, Mardi Gras and Afghan Bazaar, Kids Meggsie Cart Races, Art Exhibitions, Roving performers, Children’s concerts and workshops, Truckies Reunion, Truck & Ute Muster, Grand Parade Spectacular and Fireworks displays. There is something for everyone and over the years, the prominent major events remain the same and new ideas are introduced such as multicultural celebrations, Caribbean steel drums, kite displays and workshops, extreme sports in BMX & skateboard, beach parties, wool shed dances and formal balls, motor bike enduros plus much more.
The Festival has a 'Larger than Life' image - Derek Boyer Australia's Strongest man set a new World Record flipping a car 10 times in a record time of 3 minutes 54 seconds at the 2011 Outback Festival.
The town gets behind the Festival and for the three days leading up to the Festival local organizations present a variety of events such as – the ‘Pelican Waterhole’ Golf Masters, Rough Stock Rodeo, Little Theatre Production, and Horse Racing.