Top 5 only in Oz experiences

17:00, Jun 13 2014
Sydney Mardi Gras
BLUE LADIES: Parade goers march during the 2014 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

It is a go-to holiday destination for many Kiwi travellers but our Antipodean neighbour has enough unique and quirky events on offer to make every visit feel like your first.

Here are five experiences you can only have in the land of Oz.

Sydney Mardi Gras

Sydney Mardi Gras
RAINBOW BOYS: The annual LGBTQIA pride festival is one of the biggest Mardi Gras in the world.

The annual LGBTQIA pride festival is one of the biggest Mardi Gras in the world, attended by hundreds of thousands of revellers from both home and away.

Highlights include the Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, academic discussion panel, Film Festival and Fair Day.

Also on offer is a wide array of cabarets, comedy, music, theatre and sporting events.


The three-week long celebration of sexuality climaxes with the Mardis Gras Parade.

More than 8,500 participants in flamboyant costumes rollick for 1.7 kilometres in front of 300,000 spectators, accompanying extravagant floats that convey political themes or represent community groups.

The parade culminates in a party attended by up to 20,000 people, one of the largest annual shindigs in Australia.

Darwin Beer Can Regatta

Now in its forty-first year, regatta participants of all ages descend on Mindil Beach in July with homemade boats constructed from empty beverage cans, bottles and milk cartons.

Despite their dubious seaworthiness, the boats are sailed in four different events, including the Battle of Mindil, where boat crews must find an object hidden beneath the murky depths.

The family fun day also has off shore activities, including concerts, a flip-flop-throwing contest, sand castle building and a tug-of-war competition. Up for grabs is the hallowed honor of "best novelty hat."

Lasseters Camel Cup

The first camel race took place as a bet between two mates in 1970 and has grown to an annual event of over 5,000 spectators.

Experienced camel riders go head to head in nine races at the day-long event at Blatherskite Park in Alice Springs every July, exhibiting varying degrees of success at mastering their temperamental steeds. Hilarity inevitably ensues. 

As well as camels, cup-goers can expect to be entertained by belly dancers, rickshaw races, carnival rides and kids' camel races (which substitute wooden versions for the real thing).

One proud bloke and sheila can expect to walk away from the event crowned Mr and Miss Camel Cup.

Pinctada Cable Beach Polo

Australia's only beach polo event features two days of horseplay against a stunning backdrop of surf and sun.

Take a picnic and watch from the sand for free, or purchase tickets to one of two exclusive marquees and mingle away from the hoi polloi. You can also enjoy dinner with players beneath the stars on the Saturday night.

Henley-on-Todd Regatta

A boat race that lacks certain riparian necessities (e.g. water), the race is a spoof of British river races, in gentle mockery of Australia's original settlers.

The longest-running event in the Northern Territories (hyperlink: ), the regatta has been held almost every spring in Alice Springs since 1962.

It takes place 1,500 km away from water and is the only dry river regatta in the world. Ironically, it is the only one ever to be cancelled because of rain, when the river flooded in 1993.

Participants both local and international churn through the sand of the Todd River bed in bottomless vessels including bath tubs and human-sized hamster wheels.