Australia is truly the author and tutor of eccentric minds. Only in this part of the world would they race cockroaches, camels or yabbies in the outback for fun; or wear frocks and feathers for a parade in Sydney. There’s some great music festivals as well. Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea showcase some of their cultural traditions too with land diving and tribal dancing.
- Cockroach racing world championships, Brisbane
Only in Australia would they celebrate their national vacation by racing cockroaches. On a day when most countries raise flags and parade the streets, Aussies in Brisbane head to the Story Bridge Hotel. During much beer drinking, uproar and a lot of fun, stewards bring out the roaches and race them across a short course while their owners cheer them on.
- Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, New South Wales
Queens, frocks, feathers, the weird and wonderful are set against the backdrop of one of the world’s great cities at this annual event in Sydney. The appeal of the Mardi Gras now extends beyond Sydney’s gay community and close supporters, despite an often controversial history. Despite it’s name it has no connection to the Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras and covers a broad spectrum of activities including the famed parade with exotic costumes and dance music and floats often with a political edge. There are also art exhibitions and a film festival.
- Woodford Folk Festival, Woodford, Queensland
This is one of the biggest annual cultural events in Australia featuring a wide range of musical experiences, street theatre, workshops, film, comedy, acoustic jams, social dialogue and debate, arts and crafts and special events like the New Year’s Eve fire burning. The festival is held over six days and nights and many camp on-site for the full experience.
- Land Diving, Vanuatu
Land diving on Pentecost Island originated many moons ago, long before bungee jumping was even contemplated. There’s a legend to how this started but today it’s an annual custom coinciding with the Yam harvest. Participants jump from a high tower with flexible vines tied to their feet.
- Birdsville Races, Queensland
This small town in the middle of nowhere, or woop woop in colloquial terms, has become an iconic location for it’s one week of festivities in September. Visitors converge from all parts of the world to witness the horse races, down a few pints at the pub and experience the general merriment. Planes, cars and motorbikes pull into the town swelling it’s ranks from 100 to nearly 6000.
- The Great Matilda Camel Races and Festival, Charleville, Queensland
Where can you go to race camels, donkeys, wild goats or yabbies? Or to watch wood-chopping, beer drinking, a continuous barbecue, country and western concerts or a bush dance? Charleville is the place and if you haven’t been out here one August you’ve missed a truly outback Aussie experience.
- Byron Bay Blues and Roots festival, New South Wales
Australia’s most prestigious blues festival takes place around Easter each year in the coastal town of Byron Bay. Local and international acts belt out their jazz, blues or ethnic beats.
- Tamworth Country Music Festival, New South Wales
This annual event in the outback town of Tamworth boasts a superb line up of country western singers and a chance to wear an Akubra and shine your shoes
- Highlands show, Papua New Guinea
For a real insight into tribal dance and culture visit the colorful highlands shows of Goroka and Mt Hagan. Over 100 tribes can meet to gather and perform dressed in feathers, mud, skirts and piercings.
- Wellington International Jazz Festival, New Zealand
The windy city hosts a seven-night series of jazz concerts every November. These feature a mix of international and local stars.