Is there anything quirkier than a race that has someone sitting on a makeshift outhouse, aka dunny, and being dragged around a 200m obstacle course? Australia thinks not.
The Winton Outback Festival is a week-long program, held during the September school holidays (every second year), and sees families from all over Queensland flock to a town that on any other given week of the year has a population of less than one thousand people.
With activities from whip cracking and swag tossing for the little ones to a three-course Sunset Dinner Extravaganza for the big kids, this action-packed event puts the “friendly” in the classification “family-friendly”.
Put Winton in your GPS for September and get to know the biannual Winton Outback Festival with this guide.
How to get there
Planes, trains and automobiles isn’t just a famous Steve Martin movie from the 1980s, it’s also how you can travel the 1,350 kilometres from Brisbane to Winton.
For those who like to collect Frequent Flyer miles, book a QantasLink flight from Brisbane to Longreach and collect a hire car to travel the remaining one–hour drive to Winton, or touchdown five kilometres from town with Regional Express via Townsville.
Board the Spirit of the Outback to let Queensland Rail be your designated driver and take in the changing scenery as you ride the rails to Longreach before transferring by bus to the dinosaur capital.
You’ll want to pack the UNO or ensure the devices are fully loaded to keep the family entertained during the 26-hour journey.
If you prefer to hit the tarmac, jump on a Bus Queensland coach service for a fuss-free 22–hour ride from Brisbane to Winton, or pack the troops in the car or caravan.
There’s more than one road to Winton, so get in the know with which drive routes to take here.
What to eat
Winton may be red dirt territory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a barista-made coffee or eggs benny.
Take the family to the Musical Fence Café and let the kids make like their favourite rock star while you wait for your meal to hit the table, or book a table at Daphne’s Dining Room at The North Gregory for a meal in one of Winton’s most iconic buildings.
For a no-fuss grab and go option, food vendors will be set up in the Entertainment Area, serving up everything from fish and chips, schnitzels and pizzas to soft-serve ice cream and Hawaiian shaved ice.
Where to sleep
Stake your claim at a campground, book a pre-pitched tent, BYO a hotel on wheels or check-in to a four-walled establishment.
If your style is to travel light (read: just yourself and your personal possessions), book a spot at Tent City for a safari-style camping experience complete with elevated camp bed, quality linen and outdoor entertaining space. Turn up, unpack and settle in – you’re #sorted.
Got all the gear? Head to one of the five camping and caravan parks and set up your home away from home.
Prefer a room with solid foundations and all the mod cons including air-conditioning? Winton has you covered with cabins, motels and a four-star hotel.
What to see
Is it even an outback festival if there aren’t quirky outback sports on the program? The whole family can test their handling skills with the bushman’s egg throw, swag and broom, or wool bale rolling.
Prefer to spectate than participate? Make a beeline for the Outback Iron Man, Iron Woman, Iron Kid or Iron Masters contest, as they battle it out for the title of toughest in the region.
Clear your schedule for the not-to-be-missed signature Quilton Australian Dunny Derby, as teams fight to the finish to be the?fastest dunny in the west.
What to wear
Considering the Winton Outback Festival is held at the start of spring, expect warm days and cool nights, so pack a jumper, sunscreen and a hat to protect you from all possible weather elements.
If you’re planning to attend the Sunset Extravaganza Dinner, you’ll need a bowtie and some bling for this three-course dinner on the Winton Airport tarmac, and if you plan on getting into the festival spirit, bring a fancy-dress outfit (or two).
Have you been to the Winton Outback Festival? What do you think of this Outback event?