Check-in desk: 5 weird and wonderful Outback events

The Deni Ute Muster, with its horse riding, rodeo and ute racing, is a highlight of the calendar for Deniliquin, a New South Wales Outback town.
The Deni Ute Muster, with its horse riding, rodeo and ute racing, is a highlight of the calendar for Deniliquin, a New South Wales Outback town.

There are the obvious natural attractions in Australia's Outback - Uluru, King's Canyon, Mt Isa, The Pinnacles, The Kimberley ... But for a more 'man-made' Outback experience, plan your visit to coincide with one of these fascinating festivals.

1. Alice Springs Henley-on-Todd Regatta

In the middle of the dry, dusty Northern Territory, Alice Springs isn't particularly well known for its mighty fast-flowing rivers. But the Henley-on-Todd Regatta is a boat race with a difference. First held in 1962 as a tongue-in-cheek nod to Alice's European settlers and their twee traditions, teams in fancy dress race along the dried up Todd River bed in bottomless "boats" - anything from a bath tub to a giant hamster wheel.
August 20, henleyontodd.com.au

2. Deni Ute Muster

Got your Keith Urban tickets for his Wellington show later this year? Well then you also might want to make a date for this year's Deni Ute Muster. The guy-linered Kiwi country crooner is the headline act at Deniliquin's annual festival. Launched in 1999 to bring visitors to this small New South Wales farming town where the Ute is king, the first Muster featured a parade of 2500 vehicles, setting an official world record. This year's event will, as always, feature a ute parade, but visitors can also look forward to music (including our Keith), food, family activities and free camping included in the ticket price.
September 30-October 1, deniutemuster.com.au

3. Australian Camp Oven Festival

On the Gore highway, 200km west of Brisbane, the small town of Millmerran holds this biannual heritage festival. This year's activities will include bush poetry, live music, arts and crafts, shearing demonstrations, damper-throwing competitions and camp oven cooking classes.
October 1-2, acof.com.au

4. Nindigully Pig Races and Country Music Festival

Nindigully, population less than 10, has a famous pub (Queensland's oldest hotel and the filming location of Hugh Jackman movie Paperback Hero) and attracts thousands of visitors each year for the Nindigully Pig Races, a day of live country music, food (including pig on a spit), fireworks and racing. Pigs are auctioned, then raced - the first pig to the milk bowl wins. The owner of the winning pig gets 50 per cent of the prize pool; the remaining 50 per cent goes to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
November 26, nindigully.com

5. Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival

Celebrating the start of summer, this festival takes place in the Western Australian town of Manjimup, more than 300km south of Perth. Featuring an art trail, vintage cars, log-chopping competitions and a long lunch in the cherry tree orchards, the festival highlight is a cherry pip-spitting competition. With five months to go, there's plenty of time to get some spitting practice in.
December 10, cherryfestival.com.au

- NZ Herald

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