The annual Feast High Country Festival, a celebration of fine food, wine and beer in Victoria’s spectacular north-east, is held across three weekends from May 3-19. There will be 40 events in all, including the Fermentation Degustation, where Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth hosts topnotch chefs and their dishes, and matches different beers to each. Food, wine and fourwheel driving – sounds perfect to us! See www.feasthighcountry.com.au
For some of the most exciting desert driving, the Northern Territory’s famous Finke Desert Race is essential viewing. The two-day off-road event runs over the June long weekend (June 7-10) with a mix of monster off-road buggies, modified vehicles, quads and dirt-bike racing to keep you entertained.
The race route runs from Alice Springs to the Aputula community and then back to Alice, with plenty of trackside viewing spots along the way. You can even camp anywhere along the 250km route, so you’re right next to the action. Check out www.finkedesertrace.com.au for more information.
The Lightning Ridge Easter Festival in outback NSW is on again this year from April 19-21, offering a unique and memorable way to celebrate the Easter long weekend. Saturday is the ‘Big Dig’: where you can try your luck at digging up one of Lightning Ridge’s famed black opals, hidden in mounds of dirt on the corner of the main street. There will also be novelty races and fireworks, a rodeo (Good Friday evening) followed by markets on Sunday morning for an opportunity to relax and recuperate. Visit
www.lightningridgeinfo.com.au for more info.
Lorella Springs Wilderness Park, located 29km north of the Savannah Way, between Borroloola and Roper Bar, sprawls over one million acres of spectacular Gulf Country. It offers a brilliant winter escape for off-road tourers, anglers, bushwalkers, birdwatchers and boaties. The property includes 20km of Gulf coastline, big rivers and creeks, waterfalls, thermal springs and 4WD tracks. Run by Rhett Walker and family, Lorella Springs is a contender for the destination bucket-list. Accommodation includes selfcontained cabins, bedrooms (16), and a campground. See www.lorellasprings.com.au
It’s time to start thinking about tackling one of Australia’s most iconic 4x4 adventures: the journey from Cooktown to Cape York. Start planning your route, as there are more than a few options, plus myriad side trips that make the trip to ‘the Tip’ what it is. So book your leave, get your rig checked over and ensure you replace anything near its use-by date. Then grab yourself a copy of Hema Maps’ Cape York Atlas & Guide to read about the many ways to make the most of the trip. Also check out Tropical North Queensland Tourism’s online guide: www.tropicalnorthqueensland.org.au/articles/guide-cape-york
The 2019 Alice Springs Cup Carnival showcases the best of the Red Centre over the course of the carnival’s four weeks. The must-attend carnival runs from April 13 to May 6, and kicks off with Ladies Day, followed by the fun-filled activities of Family Day and the wild and flat-out Young Guns Day for the 18to 35-year-old crowd. If the carnival gets a bit too much, don’t forget you’re in the centre of one of Australia’s best off-road touring regions, with hundreds of kilometres of tracks and remote campsites to explore. For more information, search for it at: www.alicesprings.nt.gov.au/events
Head out to South Australia’s famous opal town for the 31st staging of this brilliant festival. Scheduled to run from Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, the Coober Pedy Opal Festival has something for everyone. There will be opal displays, tours, a massive street parade, fireworks and plenty of live music. There will also be a speedway event on the Sunday. While you are there, be sure to tackle a tour of an opal mine, or explore some of the town’s surrounding four-wheel drive tracks – there are plenty out there. Check out www.opalfestival.com.au for more information.
It’s time to start planning a visit to one of this country’s iconic destinations: Corner Country. Packed with some famous desert routes including the Strzelecki (and Old Strzelecki) and Birdsville tracks, it also contains some of the country’s best outback pubs: Innamincka, Cameron Corner Store, Tilpa, Birdsville and Tibooburra. Stand on the junction of three states at Cameron Corner, and history buffs can visit the Burke and Wills Dig Tree.