The Year of Outback Tourism will ramp up this weekend when thousands of visitors arrive in Julia Creek for the Dirt n Dust Festival.
The community, normally home to about 500 people, will welcome 2000 people in coming days for an event that embraces the outback Queensland landscape and includes everything from a triathlon, to horse races and bog snorkelling.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the event would give the region a much needed boost following the recent devastating floods.
“The Year of Outback Tourism is about supporting our outback communities who have endured years of drought as well as crippling floods in the state’s north west,” the Premier said.
“I want to thank those travelling from near and far to attend this year’s Dirt n Dust which will boost many spirits and be an important chapter in the town’s recovery.”
The Premier said it was also a special year for the Julia Creek Dirt n Dust celebrating its 25th year.
“The 200-strong army of volunteers who bring this event to life have worked around the clock to ensure Julia Creek is ready to host its signature event,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones is heading to Julia Creek for the festival this weekend and said events played a major role in enticing tourists to the region.
“Events like this pump millions into the local economy and support jobs,” she said.
“That’s why we’re committed to growing iconic events like the Dirt n Dust Festival to create more opportunities for people in outback Queensland.
“When it comes to using major events as a springboard to grow our tourism industry, the Palaszczuk Government has the runs on the board.
“We’ve more than doubled the value of Queensland’s major events calendar – this year tipped to pump $800 million into the economy.”
McKinlay Shire Mayor Belinda Murphy said after a rough start to the year this was the first major event in Outback Queensland since the floods.
“It’s great to be able to hold this event in Julia Creek, and impressive that the event still came together after everything our region has been through,” Ms Murphy said.
“We are excited, not only for the visitors who are able to experience our Outback community, but also for the locals to connect at this iconic event.”
Julia Creek Dirt n Dust Committee President Stephen Malone said the event had grown from humble beginnings 25 years ago.
“From a grassroots event to what we see today – this is an iconic event in Outback Queensland,” Mr Malone said.
“During the weekend, more than 200 volunteers come together to make the event a reality.
“This event brings our small town together like nothing else, something we certainly need after the month we’ve had.”
Tourism is a growing sector of Outback Queensland’s economy, with 894,000 visitors spending $676.5 million in the region in the three years ended September 2018.