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Trail blazing: Outback music festival will keep audience on the move

Culture

The Queensland Music Trails will take acts such as Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heidke and Emily Wurramara throughout Queensland’s Western Downs in a new initiative that will see punters road trip through the outback to each of the festival’s events.

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The event, organised by Queensland Music Festival (QMF), kicks off in June this year with The Outback Trail which follows five events across the Western Downs, ending up in Birdsville with the ‘Big Red Bash’.

Punters can travel as far and wide as they please, picking up tickets to one or all of the events, with flexibility a key feature of the trails.

The Outback Trail begins with ‘Opera at Jimbour’ on 25 June, with two performances within the historic Jimbour Homestead over the course of that weekend.

“It will be an unmatchable experience. Having an opera singer 10 feet away from you within a grand manor will be a spine tingling kind of experience,” said Joel Edmondson, Chief Executive of QMF.

‘Music for Stargazing’ will see William Barton and Kate Miller-Heidke at the Cosmos Centre in Charleville, performing under the night sky.

“The event in Charleville is rooted in the First Nations history of that place, it will be a contemporary, classical crossover with a strong Indigenous component,” said Edmonson told InQueensland.

“There’s something so magical and timeless about the outback. It has a way of somehow making our ordinary problems seem insignificant,” said Kate Miller-Heidke, QMF Ambassador.

Edmondson said ‘Echoes in the Dust’ is often referred to as a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert moment. The theatre production will see Topology and Dead Puppets Society perform above the plains of Quilpie at twilight.

Moving to Windorah, Karl S. Williams, Emily Wurramara and Hussy Hicks will perform blues, roots, and acoustic sets for ‘Oasis Afternoons’, en route to the ‘Big Red Bash’ in Birdsville.

Rounding out the Music Trails will be the ‘Big Red Bash’, a festival held in the Simpson Desert, with this year’s lineup including Australian icons such as Paul Kelly, Ian Moss, and John Williamson.

Busby Marou at Big Red Bash 2019. (Image: Tourism and Events Queensland)

Edmondson said that trails encourage Queenslanders to look in their own backyard and celebrate communities which are often overlooked.

“All the events are very different. We intended to make it a broad church because we feel a responsibility to different audiences, but the real focus is actually on the experience of place.

“It’s about creating benefits for the community and involving them. QMF’s mission is discovering how can we bring music into different contexts so it makes a positive difference,” he said.

Edmondson told InQueensland that the event has been in the making for a long time, and it is purely coincidence that Covid has inspired people to holiday inner-state.

“With international borders closed, everyone is looking for a one-of-a-kind experience in their own backyard. Nothing makes memories like seeing something totally amazing in a place you would never expect”

“It’s about showing the world these places are more than the stereotypes our culture imposes on them. These places have amazing histories, stories, and people living there and all we needed to do was create a framework for people to experience them and celebrate their identity beyond their primary economic output,” he said.

“Regional music promoters are generally operating in isolation and rely on people travelling vast distances for one event. Queensland Music Trails is an attempt to facilitate collaboration across Queensland communities for mutual benefit.”

Edmondson said they had plans for future trails, encompassing the whole of what Queensland has to offer.

Future trails will include Far North Queensland, South East Queensland, East Coast (Mackay to Sunshine Coast), Cape Trail (Townsville to Bamaga), Gemfields (Emerald to Middlemount) and Coast to Coast (Yarrabah to Burketown).

The Queensland Music Trails’ Outback Trail begins with Opera at Jimbour on 25 June, for more information visit the Queensland Music Trails website.  

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