Cape York Events

On this page you have some fun Cape York events.

ost are held between May and November, not during the Wet season.

Below are some, and I will add to the list over the years to come.

Southern Cape York Events

cooktown festival

Cooktown Festival
Cooktown Festival is held over a three day weekend in early to mid-June, and it is one of the best Cape York events. In addition to eating competitions, a truck pulling competition, cane toad races and other fun, there is the re-enactment of Cook's landing, which is great to watch.

cooktown show

Cooktown Show
Cooktown Show is held over a weekend in early August, and it is a tiny version of your Royal Easter Show
There are the usual competitions and displays, there is entertainment, street food vans, markets, but with only a small population, don't expect a heap of rides.

cooktown races

Cooktown Races
The Cooktown Annual Race Meeting is held at the Cooktown Racecourse in the first weekend of November, and it is our own tiny version of Melbourne Cup.
Apart from the horse races there is also the Fashions on the Field competition and as always, food vans, drinks and fun.

cooktown annual barra comp

Cooktown Annual Barra Comp
The Cooktown Annual Barra Comp is held in late October at the Sovereign Resort, in the main street. It starts on a Friday with anglers heading out, and ends on a Sunday with weighing in the morning, and presentation in the afternoon. Drinks, pizzas, hot chips, sausage sizzle, and plenty of freebies are thrown into the crowd :-)

cooktown hog hunt

Cooktown Hog Hunt
Cooktown Hog Hunt is a little newer event and has been held in October as well as August. A good way of helping to clean the peninsula of the feral pigs, like every other pig hunting competition it means the groups go out hunting pigs, then turn up for the weighing. That is held at the Top Pub, which means crowds watching with a beer and a lively evening.

wallaby creek festival

Wallaby Creek Festival
Wallaby Creek Festival is held over a three day weekend in late September.
It is different from many Cape York events on this page since the entrance itself costs money and not really a little of it, but it is a popular one with a bunch of performers and activities for families.

mareeba rodeo

Mareeba Rodeo
Mareeba Rodeo is held in mid July every year, over a three day weekend at the Kerribee Park rodeo grounds.
It's a classic outback event which, like other rodeos, is a competition to test cowboys' skills in different rides.

wheelbarrow race

Wheelbarrow Race
The Great Wheelbarrow Race is held on a three day weekend in late May, and it is one of the more unique Cape York events. 
It's a race from Mareeba to Chillagoe, and racing are - people walking while pushing wheelbarrows. In the old gold rush days a lot of wheelbarrows were pushed this way.

chillagoe festival

Chillagoe Festival
Chillagoe Country Music Festival is a cute little country festival, just like the town itself. It's held over a weekend in late July, starting on Friday with the Town Hall turned into an art gallery with complimentary wine and cheese platters. On Saturday there are the morning markets and entertainment and live music into the night.

chillagoe rodeo

Chillagoe Rodeo and Bushmans Carnival
Chillagoe Rodeo and Bushmans Carnival - is usually held in the second weekend in May - and is one of the earliest Cape York events after the Wet Season. With their dry and sunny climate their skies are so often blue, and their nights always get so cold! There is a Friday night cabaret with a few comps, and Saturday is a full day with all the rides.

mt carbine rodeo

Mt Carbine Bull and Bronc
Mt Carbine Bull and Bronc Ride is another Cape York rodeo, held in early August. It's not a bad one, and the refreshing thing is that instead of sitting in midday sun you watch it into the darkness. Kids rides first, then adults, and once it ends everybody gathers in the bar for live music and party.

laura aboriginal dance festival

Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival
Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival is held over a three day weekend in late June, and is easily the best of all Cape York events. Aboriginal dance groups come from different communities from all over the peninsula to perform their dancing programs that consist of a few different dances each, and are excellent watching.

laura rodeo and races

Laura Rodeo and Races
Laura Rodeo and Races is held a week after the Aboriginal Dance Festival in the end of June, and is one of the three day Cape York events starting with a campdraft on Friday night, and continuing with horse races on Saturday and the rodeo on Sunday. It's a busy weekend, lots of people come from Cooktown and other places around.

Central Cape York Events 

conquer the corrugations

Conquer the Corrugations
Conquer the Corrugations is a 60km walk for mental health awareness that is held in September every year. It goes from Coen to Archer River with the first night camping at Coen, second at the Lagoon in the middle, and third at Archer River Roadhouse. A bus follows the walkers so that you can have as much of a break from walking as you like any time.

ruchook festival napranum

Ruchook Festival
One of the newer indigenous Cape York events, the Ruchook Festival is on the old Ruchook Cultural Park grounds in Napranum that have been there for a long time. It is far less known than Laura but still a great chance to experience some indigenous culture if you happen to be around at the right time - it's most likely held in late July / early August.

weipa fishing classic

Weipa Fishing Classic
Weipa Fishing Classic is a very popular event held during the Queen's Birthday weekend in early June. Lots of fun fishing, big fish and big prizes to win over the weekend - even if you don't fish! You could walk away with a Sea Jay velocity boat or a Can-Am quad bike, and there are lots of smaller prizes from eskies to fishing rods and reels. Special guests, live music, food stalls, licensed bar.

weipa bull ride

Weipa Bullride
Weipa Bull Ride is a two day weekend event in late August every year, and is one of the better rodeos on the peninsula.
A friday nigh cabaret is followed by the Saturday bullride, which starts in the afternoon and ends in darkness. Bulls only, no horses.

weipa pig hunt

Weipa Pig Hunt
With all the feral pigs on the peninsula, pig hunt events are a good thing and are held in the Northern Peninsula Area (as part of the NPA Show in Bamaga); Weipa, and Cooktown. The Weipa version is cool with the local crowd and the local band playing - held in late September usually :-)

mapoon fishing competition

Mapoon Fishing Competition
Officially called Cullen Point Barra Bash, it is a great event if you like fishing. Held in September at Cullent Point, north of the old Mapoon, it is a few years old event now and getting more and more popular. Locals attend but travellers are welcome, and prizes - including a boat - are given at the presentation in the end.

paanja festival mapoon

Paanja Festival
Another one of the great indigenous Cape York events, the Paanja Festival of Mapoon has actually been around for some time, but is only held once in five or so years. Well known on the Cape and attracts a good local crowd, it's well worth a visit if you are around at the right time - held in late September / early October.

bramwell cup

Bramwell Cup and Bush Carnival
Bramwell Cup and Bush Carnival is a relatively new event, which only started in 2013, but is getting popular. It is held over a three day weekend in early July. The main event is the horse race held on Saturday, while all three days have different events, competitions, rides and nightly live music.

Northern Cape York Events

npa show

NPA Show, Bullride and Horse Races

Northern Peninsula Area also has its own show, bullride and horse races weekend, and it's quite an old event (so far it's all in one but there are plans on separating the horse races and bullride into their own events). About mid August every year, it also includes pig hunt and many other competitions, and of course the amusement rides like every show.

bamaga mud rally

Bamaga Mud Rally
A fun wet season event, the Bamaga Mud Rally is usually held on Australia Day, but can also be during other times such as Easter.
It is a local event with no travellers, the only reason being that there is enough mud only during the wet season.

npa cultural festival

NPA Cultural Festival

A new event in Bamaga in early October, only started in 2014 (UPDATE now in July in some years) and while it is not sure yet whether it will be held every year or every second year - the NPA Cultural Festival is one of the very best Cape York events along with our other two indigenous dance festivals.

torres strait cultural festival

Torres Strait Cultural Festival
Torres Strait Cultural Festival is held over three days in late September, every second year. It is up there amongst the best of our Cape York events
Torres Strait Islander dancing groups come from different islands from the Strait, to Thursday Island to perform their dancing, which is great watching.

Mareeba Rodeo

Mareeba Rodeo is a typical country event.

I do have mixed feelings about rodeos because of the animal rights.

But they are such classic country events, everywhere in the outback, and as with everything, as the awareness is growing, so are the restrictions and rules.

All we can hope they do even in the outback Australia, and after all I do have to agree it's not a bad watch.

Mareeba Rodeo is held in mid-July every year, at the Kerribee Park rodeo grounds.
   mareeba rodeo

Like other rodeos it's a competition about the cowboys' skills.
   bareback bronc riding

There is bareback and saddle bronc riding, ...
   saddle bronc riding

... there is steer wrestling, ...
   steer wrestling

... bull riding, ...
   bull riding

... as well as other classic rodeo competitive events.
   rodeo food stalls

And like elsewhere, there are the food stalls, amusement rides and other fun.

The Great Wheelbarrow Race

Wheelbarrow Race is one of the crazier Cape York events.

Well I would have though that 140km is a long way to walk, but pushing a wheelbarrow???

Even though it's done in teams (so the distance is divided between the team members), it sure is a fair effort by anyone competing in this and having said that I am thinking I may try one year.

The race goes from Mareeba to Chillagoe, in Cairns outback, along the eastern part of Burke Developmental Road.

It kicks off in Mareeba in a mid-May Friday morning every year.
   wheelbarrow race mareeba

In the end of the first day, the race gets to Dimbulah and everyone camps over there.
   wheelbarrow race dimbulah

The second day - the Saturday - it's from Dimbulah to Almaden, for the second overnight camp.
   wheelbarrow race almaden

And on the third day - the Sunday - the wheelbarrow race continues across
some hilly country from Almaden to Chillagoe, where the race is finished.
   wheelbarrow race chillagoe

It's quite a popular event and great country style fun in case you were interested.

Weipa Bull Ride

Weipa Bull Ride is not a bad rodeo.

It is well organised and compared to some other rodeos more money is spent, more advertising is done, and they also charge you a bit more than small country town rodeos.

Weipa Bull Ride is usually a Friday - Saturday event in late August, starting with a cabaret night on Friday.
   weipa bullride cabaret

On Saturday the bull ride is on, 
   weipa bullride 2014

... starting with kids and baby bull rides in the afternoon,
   weipa bull ride

... then bigger kids and bigger bulls,
   weipa bullride kids

... and finally, by darkness, the adults with the biggest bulls.
   weipa bull ride adults

There are all kinds of stalls at Weipa Bull Ride like on any other events,
   weipa bullride cape york

... and other fun such as raffles, lolly throw, comedy clowns and live entertainment.
   weipa bull ride cape york

Saturday night after the bull ride also ends up a late night party.

You may also like:

Cairns Events

Port Douglas Events

And - all detail about all the events, with admission prices, contact details and the exact dates for each year, are in the Destination Guide.

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