Ride the Bull, Build a Raft, Race a Duck: The Perfect Adventure Weekend

Hughenden, a small town with a population of just over 1000, played host to over 2000+ visitors from across the country and overseas for an unforgettable adventure weekend. The inaugural 'Festival of Outback Skies' promised stunning sunsets, vast horizons and good old-fashioned outback hospitality, and it did not disappoint.


The festival kicked off with the heart-pumping excitement of bull riding, as competitors faced off against one of the toughest rodeo animals. The crowd held their breath as they waited for the eight-second timer to buzz, cheering loudly when riders made time. The dust and smell took us back to our childhood, reminding us of the thrill of the rodeo. Boys and girls of all ages running around in their jeans and cowboy hats having a great time.

Selfie of Elly Rose at the Bull Rides in Hughenden 

Elly Rose getting a selfie in front of the gates of the bull riding


But the fun didn't stop there; participants had the chance to build rafts and race against friends, or witness the excitement of duck racing. Our ducks were too busy looking at the beautiful views to win the race, but they enjoyed the journey.


There were workshops for both kids and adults on various topics like lino printing, clay animal sculpture, writing affirmations, clay vases, drawing animals, lantern making, watercolour and painting workshops, resin board, stained glass creations, writers workshops, mosaic madness and tie dyeing. There really was something for everyone.

 Elly Rose in front of the pavilion workshops

Elly Rose in front of the Pavilion waiting to do a workshop


The art trail, a new installation for the small town attracted some great entries to their sculpture competition which had a significant prize pool of $13,000. The entrants were encouraged to draw inspiration from the beautiful and diverse outback landscapes of the Flinders Shire, which served as the backdrop for the works of art. The pieces looked great in the daytime but really came to life after dark, being back lit with red lights. The winning entry a crowd favourite with new details to discover each time you look at it.


The evening brought a dinner under the stars, where friends met and new friends were made. The sparkling fairy lights taking the place of the real stars that where playing hide and seek behind the clouds. There’s nothing like dinning under the night sky with 200+ people. Laughter, good food, amazing band, and great company. What more could we ask for?

 Elly Rose at the dinner under the stars in Hughenden

Elly Rose at the dinner under the stars

As the sun set over the lake on the final night, the atmosphere buzzed with anticipation as the market stalls came alive with vendors from all over, both local and from Townsville.

As the night went on, the crowds grew for the finale of the lights on the lake. Children burning off excess energy by rolling down the grassy hill and playing chase.

"No one was bored or on their electronic devices. (except for taking photos). Kids were having fun, and parents enjoying themselves."


The lantern parade was a mesmerising sight, with adults and children participating with their handmade lanterns that they have made over the weekend, walking around the edge of the lake coming closer and walking right past where we have a stall set up. The children waving and beaming with pride.

Elly Rose with the children and adults who made beautiful lanterns

Elly Rose taking part in the lantern parade and stopping for a selfie 


The finale!

The crowds have built in anticipation and are ready to be amazed by the sight of tiny floating lanterns illuminating the waters, creating a magical and enchanting atmosphere.

Small coloured lights appear from nowhere in the middle of the lake and float closer towards us. The sight of floating lanterns illuminating the waters and changing colours created a magical and enchanting atmosphere. As the last of the bio-degradable lanterns were collected and the stall holders packed up, we celebrated the success of this beautiful adventure weekend in a friendly and accommodating outback town.

Elly Rose waiting for the lanterns to float in 

Elly Rose waiting for the lanterns to float into shore


Add the 'Festival of Outback Skies' to your travel bucket list for 2024 and indulge in your sense of adventure while embracing the beauty of nature. It’s a festival that successfully blends traditional rodeo events with art and craft workshops, sightseeing, and fun events such as the raft and duck races.


If you would like to see what else to do on your trip to Hughenden have a look at this blog post.

"Unleash Your Inner Explorer: A Weekend of Sunset’s, history and mesmerising views” 


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