Yep, we’re reminding you again that the country’s most unique - and the world’s most remote - music festival is on again. Held from July 16-18 at the base of Big Red, the mighty 40m-tall sand dune near the Birdsville Hotel. It’s not the only mighty thing for this year’s event: Aussie rock icons Midnight Oil are headlining the 2019 Big Red Bash - the band’s first multi-day music festival in more than 22 years. See www.bigredbash.com.au for more info.
As winter hits full throttle, a number of popular tracks in some of Victoria’s national parks - mainly the High Country, but not exclusively that region - are now closed for winter. This also applies to some of Victoria’s state forests and conservation reserves. Each of these will have different close/open dates, so the best bet to check access to these areas is to go to 4WD Victoria’s excellent website at www. fwdvictoria.org.au and then plan a trip that is still viable for winter, or start looking at a cracking spring/summer trip for when more tracks will be open.
For those with a hankering for an eastern seaboard winter and a reversecelebration of the festive season, the Blue Mountains is the place to go, with (potentially) snow-filled Yuletide celebrations over July and August. This World Heritage-listed region is only an hour or so from Sydney and offers some great offroad driving in the nearby state forests, and plenty of bushwalking and campsites to spend a weekend or longer. Plus, time it right and you could well nab that elusive ‘White Christmas’ experience. See: www.visitnsw.com/destinations/blue-mountains/yulefest
The NSW Sapphire Coast, from Bermagui to Eden, is a cracking autumn/winter destination, with awesome 4x4 tracks, beachside campsites, hiking and biking trails, minus the heaving summer crowds. For mountain bikers, Tathra’s renowned 50km trail network is a must, while hikers can tackle the two-day Light to Light Walk, starting at Ben Boyd Tower just south of Eden, and finishing at Green Cape Lighthouse. You’ll find a cold bevvie at the Longstocking Brewery and Oyster Bar at Pambula, or the Humpback Brewery (Tathra Hotel). Visit www.sapphirecoast.com.au
For travellers in the Kimberley region, the Derby Outback Rodeo (August 9-11) is well worth checking out. Touted as the biggest and best rodeo in WA’s vast northwest, the event is held at the Rodeo Grounds in Derby. The event kicks off at 6am on the first day, with a mix of local station workers and interstate competitors tackling rodeo and gymkhana events (think: campdraft, breakaway roping, barrel races and even poddy rides for the young’uns). There’s live entertainment on the Saturday night. Go to www.australiasnorthwest.com/event/derby-outback-rodeocampdraft-gymkhana
The Annual Casterton Australian Kelpie Muster is on again in 2019, with the township of Casterton celebrating all things kelpie. On the Saturday is the Kelpie Festival, including the kelpie triathlon, where dogs tackle the high jump, the hill climb and kelpie dash. There’s also a street parade, novelty events (for dogs and kids), and street stalls. On Sunday is the working Dog Auction, where prices can reach more than $22K! Log on to www.castertonkelpieassociation.com.au
For those with a few weeks to spare between June and the end of August, we recommend the mighty Binns Track. The full Binns is 2230km and takes tourers through a variety of outback landscapes including the northern Simpson Desert, the East Macdonnell Ranges, the Davenport Ranges NP and on to Gregory NP. However much you do, it’ll make you want to return to finish the job - the Binns Track really is that much fun.