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6 Offbeat Outback Events

Whenever I start talking about Australia’s Northern Territory; I am transported back to some of my favourite travelling days; road tripping with my girlfriend around Australia. While not strictly true in a geographical sense, the Northern Territory acted like a wonderland plateau. An escape from the gold-lined coastlines and coffee shop urbanity of Australia cities.

“This, ” I figured, “is the Australia I came for.”

The experience of road tripping through the Territory was often a surreal one. We would drive our ute for long hours, without sight of another vehicle. Our Sat Nav stared at us nonchalantly. We cheered as we veered around rare bends in the road; and whooped as the fear of an empty fuel tank was alleviated by petrol stations that appeared from nowhere.

The landscape is indubitably one of its most iconic features; in the south, its fire red deserts are pinned down by pale green bursts of spinifex grass and the length of steel grey tarmac that make up Highways 1 and 87.

In the tropical north, a mishmash of wetlands and winding rivers flourish in “the Wet” season (the Australian summer, November to January) before drying out for the winter months.

But there’s something else going on in the Northern Territory, which, if you’re a traveller seeking out authentic experiences, could be right up your creek. The people of the Northern Territory have a character that can only be born within such a unique collection of landscape. And from that; a collection of curious events have bloomed:

6 Unusual Events in the Northern Territory

Coming up, are six of the Northern Territory’s most unusual and offbeat events; which you could be ringside for. What’s more, we’re offering some amazing tours in the Northern Territory for a limited-time only. Here’s what you could be experiencing…

Daly Waters Rodeo

The tiny town of Daly Waters in the Northern Territory is famous for a few things — not least, as the location for Australia’s first international airport, and one of the Outback’s most famous boozers, the Daly Waters Pub. No trip through the Territory is complete without a stop in DW, and we recommend timing it with the rodeo and campdraft (4-6 May 2012). Bring your tent or your swag bag, and get involved with an authentic Aussie experience.

Crocodile Feeding

Rumour has it that there are over 80,000 saltwater crocs gliding through the waterways of northern Australia, and while you’ll probably see a few basking on the muddy banks of the Territory’s rivers, the locals have invented a guaranteed method for getting you within splashing distance of the sheer power of those fearsome jaws… chickens. That’s right, at any point in the year, follow the experts aboard the riverboats, as they dangle a whole chicken over board, and then… BOOM! One snappy croc snap for the album.

Lions Camel Cup Carnival

Alice Springs plays host to the annual Camel Cup, a carnival of cameline proportions that centres around a series of camel races! Get track-side to watch the goofy fun unfold, as riders hang on for dear life as their gangly steed makes a charge for the horizon. Whether that’s the horizon to the north, east, south or west is anyone’s guess. Amid the chaos, expect a large helping of Outback entertainment, and a good squeeze of Aussie humour. Get in on the action, on 14 July 2012.

Alice, the camel, had, sixteen humps…

Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta

This legendary event is one of the Outback’s most revered; attracting people from across the world to Darwin’s Mindil Beach, where crews compete for victory in the famous Beer Can Regatta. The event started in 1974 to rid the streets of empty beer cans, which hints at the ethos of the event. All of the boats and crews must adhere to the ten can-mandments; including such outlandish rules as “The craft shall float by cans alone”; and “Thou shalt not drown”. It takes place on 15 July 2012.

Henley-on-Todd Regatta

Equally as barmy as the previous event; the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, in Alice Springs, is a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed. In its 51st year, this is the single longest running event in the Northern Territory, and takes place on 18 August 2012. There are fifteen boat-themed events (remember, Alice Springs is 100s of miles from the nearest body of water!) including the Battle Boat Spectacular, Surf Rescue Event, and the Bath Tub Derby. Amazingly, the event was cancelled in 1993 because there was too much water in the Todd River!

Top End Eclipse

The Northern Territory is home to one of the most alluring, and legendary landscapes on the planet: Arnhem Land, in the imaginatively named “Top End” will play host to the first sightings of 2012′s total lunar eclipse on 13 November. You’ll need a wedge of paperwork, but those keen enough to travel to the Territory’s Garig Gunak Barlu National Park, on the Cobourg Peninsula, will be treated to a once in a lifetime experience from the legend-riddle floor to wide ceiling skies. Consult Parks and Wildlife Service for further details, including road access.

For more information on the Northern Territory, and on working holiday jobs, visit the new Work Different website.


Ah, you can’t beat a combination of beer can boats and Australian boozers! Do you know of any offbeat festivals or events that happen in the Northern Territory, or around the world? There’s only one place for them; lay them in the comment thread below and build the conversation!

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