It's Happy Hour in more ways than one for tourism in outback Queensland after more than $1.1 million in funding was announced in round one of the Year of Outback Tourism events program.
Outback Queensland Tourism Association general manager Peter Homan said the water left by February and March rain events was pulling tourists to the region, which would be enhanced by the funding announcement.
"For instance, a tag-along tour of 100 from Wagga drank two pubs dry on their way up here," he said. "They were dancing in the street at Wyandra - it really was Happy Hour."
Some 27 events in 24 local government regions are the recipients of the funding announced by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last week.
The Premier said the array of events being funded were as vast as the outback itself.
"Grants of up to $100,000 will go to supporting rugby carnivals, a regatta, a stockman's challenge, music and food festivals, horse races, an Indigenous walking trail and arts projects.
"There are events already on the calendar like Surat's Cobb and Co Festival, Birdsville's Big Red Bash, Cunnamulla's Fella Festival and Winton's Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival to make them bigger and better.
"And there are new events too, with Longreach putting on an Outback Paddle Regatta and River Fest, and the Charleville Cosmos Centre is hosting a two-night astronomical event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the moon landing."
Mr Homan said the funding mix meant there was a leg-up for the new events while still helping established events.
"The challenge is, what will happen after this year," he said. "We've really got to make the most of this, but I would like to see the funding continue to really embed these events."
Ms Palaszczuk said she had declared 2019 the Year of Outback Tourism and announced the new $3m program to attract new visitors to a magical part of Queensland.
"The fascinating history, unique natural beauty, rich indigenous heritage and exceptionally friendly people of the outback make it a major tourism asset for our state," she said, adding that the government was working with locals to see numbers grow.
Tourism is worth more than $350m and supports 3700 jobs in outback Queensland.
Mr Homan said the government liked that local governments and independent operators were also investing in tourism in the region.
The government is opening round two of the program next month and event and festival promoters, local governments, community organisations and local businesses are encouraged to apply.
Year of Outback Tourism events program round one recipients
- Footy for the Flinders Highway - Hughenden, Julia Creek, Richmond (26 April 2019 - 5 October)
- On-route to Big Red Bash entertainment - Windorah (13 - 14 Jul)
- One Giant Leap for Mankind - Charleville (19 - 21 Jul)
- Indigenous Stock Workers' Display - Normanton (15 August)
- Outback Paddle Regatta & River Fest - Longreach (21 - 22 Sep)
- Nindigully Film and Music Festival - Nindigully (04 - 06 Oct)
- National Boxing Series - Mt Isa (19 Oct)
- Trailblazing the West - Birdsville, Longreach, Charleville, Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Richmond, Thargomindah, Augathella, Boulia, Winton (29 May 2020)
- Watti-Watti Walking Tracks - Birdsville (30 Jul 2020)
- Out the Back Music Festival - Emerald (11 Oct 2020)
- Savannah Way Art Trail - Georgetown, Croydon, Normanton, Karumba, Burketown, Doomadgee (30 Nov 2020)
- Aramac Races - Aramac (25 May)
- Outback Queensland Masters - Roma, Mt Isa, Charleville, Longreach, Winton, Boulia (17 June - 28 July)
- Vision Splendid Outback Film Festival - Winton (28 Jun - 06 Jul)
- Alpha Races - Alpha (29 - 30 Jun)
- Festival of Small Halls - Goovigen, Mitchell, Alpha, Jericho, Aramac, Muttaburra, Barcaldine, Hughenden, Georgetown (01 Jul 2019 - 30 Nov 2020)
- Cloncurry Stockman's Challenge and Campdraft - Cloncurry (10 - 14 Jul)
- Birdsville Big Red Bash - Birdsville (14 - 18 July)
- Hughenden Rugby 7s Carnival - Hughenden (26 - 28 Jul)
- #betterinblackall Festival - Blackall (14 - 18 Aug)
- Gulf Country Frontier Days Festival - Burketown (15 - 18 Aug)
- Cobb and Co Festival - Surat (17 - 25 Aug)
- Cunnamulla Fella Festival - Cunnamulla (30 Aug - 01 Sep)
- Multicultural River Dragon Festival - St George (06 - 08 Sep)
- Outback Food, Wine & Music Festival - Longreach (14 Sep)
- Winton Outback Festival - Winton (24 - 28 Sep)
- Roma's Easter in the Country - Roma (13 - 19 Apr 2020)