What does summer look like to you?
If your answer included munching on sweet, thirst-quenching watermelons, then your summer is about to get a whole lot juicier.
Every second February, the biennial Chinchilla Melon Festival takes over the town to celebrate its proud melon farming industry that produces 25% of the country’s watermelons.
If you’ve got 48 hours to spare and have a hankering for one of Australia’s favourite foods, here’s how we suggest spending your time in Chinchilla’s melon mania this summer.
DAY 1 – Friday 17 February
1.30pm: Arrive in Chinchilla
It’s a scenic route to Chinchilla whether you take the car, bus or train to get you from point B (Brisbane) to C (Chinchilla).
If you’ve got plenty of time up your sleeve, jump on board Queensland Rail’s Westlander which departs Brisbane every Tuesday and Thursday – whisking you away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a comfortable seven-hour trip, before rolling into Chinchilla’s railway station.
Ready to drive but don’t want to spend your precious time off behind the wheel yourself? Opt for a bus journey where all you have to worry about is scoring a window seat.
On the road, a four-hour playlist will get you from one side of the Great Dividing Range to the other – just jump straight on the Warrego Highway and you’ll go from city to Chinchilla country before you’ve finished belting out those tunes.
2pm: Check into The Laurels
Dial up the romance with a luxurious stay at the only waterfront accommodation in town, The Laurels of Chinchilla.
It’s got ‘rustic retreat’ down pat, with private boutique bungalows and cottages surrounded by lush gardens bordering Charley’s Creek.
Here you can have a break from the energetic festival, take in the beauty of Chinchilla’s countryside and soak up the serenity (plus wash off any watermelon you might be wearing) in your private bathtub on your balcony.
Check out their website here for availability and to make a booking.
5pm: Check out the Big Melon Weigh-In and experience Melon Skiing
Kicking off melon mania is one of the most prestigious competitions of the festival – the Big Melon Weigh In.
Head down to the Chinchilla State School Oval for the kids, adults and ‘most-marketable melon’ competitions. Here you can feast your eyes on the biggest and heaviest melons around – with a current record of 100.5kg (2019) for the biggest-melon-in-show.
Once you’ve clapped eyes on the giant vegetables (that’s right – watermelons aren’t just a fruit!), stick around for the infamous Melon Skiing (a sticky experience like no other!) and grab a burger by the Burger Bar.
5pm: Get ready to rumble
The party continues deep into the night on Friday so step into The Club Hotel and go from country to coast at the MelonFest Beach Party, with indoor and outdoor stages thundering with live music and DJ’s from 5pm (over 18s only).
If you’d choose country over coast any day of the week – head down to the Chinchilla Showgrounds for a whip-cracking good time at the Melon Rodeo (from 6pm to 9pm). There’ll be food vans onsite, plenty of rodeo action and a licensed bar operating until midnight with tickets available at the gate (so don’t stress about prebooking for this one).
7.30am: Melon markets
Rise and shine, you’ve got a melon-packed day ahead of you.
From 7.30am – 3.30pm, the melon markets are exactly what their name suggests – melon themed and will have you seeing nothing but red and green.
Over 150 market stalls will line Chinchilla’s main drag – Heeney Street – offering homewares and crafts to jewellery and clothes – your souvenirs, gifts, and outfit are set.
10.30am: The melon procession
Every good country fair needs a parade, and the Melon Festival is no exception.
Think watermelon costumes, music performances, street entertainers, floats and decorations galore, with a colourful procession starting in the main street and flowing as far as the eye can see.
Concluding the parade will be the exciting ‘Dash for Cash’ so keep an eye out for this great event.
12.30pm: Melon mania in full swing
Warning #1 – what you’re about to witness will change your outlook on melons forever.
Warning #2 – you will be covered head to toe in watermelon at some point during the afternoon.
Enter the Arena of Melon Events (aka the Chinchilla State School oval) for hours of slippery, sliding, and squishy fun that proves you can do much more with a melon than simply eat it.
There’s melon skiing (squishing your feet into open melons and sliding down the course), melon bungy (team event of sliding down a mat attached by rope), melon tug of war, eating, and even pip spitting.
The best is saved for last, with the great melon ironman/woman race taking over the arena with an obstacle course designed to challenge competitors and showcase melon farming skills.
10.00am: Tour the town before you go
Stop by the Chinchilla Visitor Information Centre for any last-minute pickups before exploring the rest of town. Don’t forget to grab your melon shirt here (and any other melon goodies you can find!) and step outside for a selfie with The Big Melon (it’s not a visit to Chinchilla without a stop at this juicy giant).
Grab a map at the VIC and visit some of the town’s most popular spots and hidden gems.
Learn about the town’s history at the Chinchilla Museum, where you can step back in time with a walk around the grounds to see old town buildings from dancing halls to homesteads.
For a tour highlighting the town’s natural beauty, adventure to the Chinchilla Weir on the outskirts of town or take to the walking tracks lining Charley’s Creek.
There’s plenty to do and see in Chinchilla so we’re sure you’ll find the perfect way to wrap up an unforgettable weekend.
For more information on the festival or to download the full event program, visit the MelonFest website here.