A summer of pip stops

From harvest festivals to street car cred, Lee Atkinson explores some crowd-pleasing events.

YOUNG

The first weekend in December is cherry time in Young, in central western NSW, when the town celebrates the summer harvest during the annual National Cherry Festival, now in its 61st year.

While highlight events are the street parade, cherry pie-eating championships and the cherry pip-spitting competition, for most visitors and locals it's a chance to get together for some old-fashioned country fun. If you can't make it to Young, there's always the Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival in Western Australia the following weekend.

National Cherry Festival, December 3-5. visityoung.com.au.

Manjimup Cherry Harmony Festival, December 11-12. cherryfestival.com.au.

HOBART

Part of the annual Hobart Summer Festival, the week-long Taste Festival feeds nearly 250,000 people with top Tasmanian food and wine.

The waterfront near Salamanca Place buzzes with activity as yachts come and go, fishing boats set sail on the Southern Ocean or return laden with crayfish, finfish or squid, and buskers, musicians and performers entertain the crowds.

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December 28-January 3. hobartsummerfestival.com.au.

PARKES

In January, thousands of Elvis impersonators meet for the annual five-day Elvis Festival and a normally unassuming town explodes in a hip-wiggling swirl of sequined jumpsuits, gold lame and blue suede shoes.

Highlights include markets where you can buy enough Elvis memorabilia to sink a ship, lookalikes, soundalikes, talent quests, rock'n'roll concerts, displays, ecumenical church services and street parades.

January 5-9. parkeselvisfestival.com.au.

CANBERRA

The folk behind Canberra's annual car festival believe Summernats is "more than a car show; it's a festival of the street machine lifestyle". So if you're harbouring a secret Stig deep inside your psyche, this four-day carnival of modified, customised and restored street cars will be sure to rev you up. Highlights include Burnout and Go-Whoa competitions, car shows and a car audio soundoff.

January 6-9. summernats.com.au.

GUYRA

Love your lamb? Then get yourself to Guyra (halfway between Sydney and Brisbane in the New England Tablelands) in mid-January for Guyra's Lamb and Potato Festival.

Each day, more than 100 lambs and 350 kilograms of potatoes are eaten and, given the festival is a 10-day event, that's a lot of meat and veg, however you dish it up. The festival includes sheep-shearing demonstrations, sheepdog displays, antique machinery and vintage cars.

January 14-27. www.guyra.nsw.gov.au.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

If there is a sound that sums up summer (other than whining cicadas), it has to be the ukulele; it's Hawaiian, after all.

Ukulele lovers will flock to the Blue Mountains in January for the second annual Ukelele Festival. According to the organisers, there are two types of people in the world: "those who play the ukulele and those who want to"; if either of those descriptions applies, head to the Blue Mountains Hotel in Lawson.

January 29. visitbluemountains.com.au.

CANBERRA

Forget travelling the globe according to the Eat, Pray, Love itinerary. You can Eat, Sing and Dance your way around the world in Canberra at the annual National Multicultural Festival in February.

There's a host of indoor and outdoor events around the city but the main event is the night markets with hundreds of food stalls on Garema Place.

February 11-13. www.multiculturalfestival.com.au.

CHINCHILLA

If you think the most fun thing you can do with a watermelon is to spit the seeds at your little sister, then you need to go to the Chinchilla Melon Festival, 300 kilometres west of Brisbane.

You can see melon skiing, melon iron man, melon bungee, melon bullseye, pip spitting and melon tossing, although the headline event is watching grown-ups split melons with, er, their melon. Last year, John Allwood broke 47 melons with his head in one minute for a Guinness World Record.

February 17-20. melonfest.com.au.

SNOWY MOUNTAINS

The good times will flow at Lake Jindabyne during the Flowing Festival, a weekend of festivities that will include live entertainment, markets, rides, fireworks and the sixth Lake Jindabyne Dragon Boat Challenge.

Anyone can enter. As long as you have a team of 20 good paddlers - all equipment is provided and you don't need experience - you'll get all the training you need the day before and the organiser will even provide someone who knows how to steer.

February 19-20. flowingfestival.com.au.

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