The Sunshine Coast will celebrate Australia Day with a 'weird and wonderful' line-up of special events later this month.
Events and activities will include the Ginger Flower and Food Festival, the Sunshine Coast Cup horse-racing carnival and two of the more bizarre events on the Australian events calendar – the Haviana Australia Day Thong Challenge and the renowned Dunny Races.
Simon Ambrose, CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) said the Sunshine Coast was known for its diversity, and the Australia Day range of activities would highlight that – in bucket-loads.
“There will be something for everybody this Australia Day weekend,” said Mr Ambrose.
“The focus of the weekend is usually on our beaches, but just half an hour inland visitors can experience the remarkable versatility of the ginger plant, which not only grows as a beautiful flower but is an essential ingredient in food and wellness therapies.
“Thongs, of course, are a national Australian dress code during summer, so their value will be recognised as contestants try and break a world thong-throwing record. And for laughs, few events can top the Dunny Races, which also displays Australia's unique talent in designing and racing portable toilets – a rare skill that seems to have found a home on the Sunshine Coast.
“We invite visitors from around Queensland, as well as interstate and international visitors to enjoy a very distinctive and colourful Australia Day weekend on the Sunshine Coast,” added Mr Ambrose.
The Sunshine Coast Turf Club hosts the Caloundra Chamber of Commerce Sunshine Coast Cup meeting on Monday, January 26, that offers $520,000 in prize money.
Mick Sullivan, CEO of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club said the race day also places a strong emphasis on family friendly activities.
“The feature race is the $100,000 Caloundra Chamber of Commerce Sunshine Coast Cup. Entertainment on the day will be a jumping castle, face painters and a live performance by true blue entertainer Matt James. A new addition this Australia Day will be the Tucker Tent with food stalls catering to all tastes.”
Sunshine Coast Australia Day and weekend events include but are not limited to the following:
2015 Ginger Flower and Food Festival (Friday 23 – Sunday 25 January)
Visit Australia's largest and most exquisite showcase of ornamental gingers and heliconias. The annual event at the Ginger Factory offers free admission, boasts celebrity chefs, brilliant gardeners and live entertainment.
Off and racing at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club (Monday 26 January)
The Sunshine Coast Cup will be the state's only metropolitan race day on Australia Day and thousands of people are invited to come out and enjoy a family friendly day of racing as well lots of entertainment for the whole family. With an exciting eight race program and total prize money of $520,000 on offer, there will be strong interest and big fields at Caloundra on Australia Day.
Haviana Australia Day Thong Challenge (Monday 26 January)
You are invited to band together and head to Mooloolaba and attempt to set a new world record for the longest line of giant inflatable Havaianas joined in the water. Now in it's tenth year the Havaianas Australia Day Thong Challenge continues to raise funds for the Nippers, with a total of $334,710 raised over the past nine years. The popular event is synonymous with Australia Day, and creates a unique sight across each state's most prominent beaches simultaneously.
True Blue Dunny races (Monday 26 January)
Head to Aussie World for family fun and frivolity including the famous dunny races, tug of war, thong throwing, mullet tossing, vintage car show, cooee calling, pie eating contest, best dressed competitions and more. The day starts at 10am with a patriotic Australian flag raising ceremony followed by the singing of the national anthem. The dunny race is always hotly contested with corporate teams taking part and the winners are presented with a toilet seat trophy that declares them Dunny Race Champions of the World!
Community Celebrations (Monday 26 January)
Start your day with a big Aussie breakfast, celebrating the true spirit of Australia. Locals and visitors alike are invited to join together and attend an Australian breakfast event in Maleny or Buddina. From one end of the Coast to the other there will be a range of celebrations, ceremonies, parades, markets and concerts at Buderim, Coolum Beach, Gympie, Marcoola, Montville and Noosaville.
Transport through the Ages (Monday 26 January)
The Gympie and District Historical Society Inc in conjunction with The Gympie Historic Auto Club Inc will hold a flag raising ceremony, demonstrations of historic transport and guided tours of the museum with half price entry from 8am to 11am.