Labour Day is celebrated in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT this month, so there’s a huge choice of sports grand finals, mardi gras parades and foodie festivals to enjoy.
New South Wales
The biggest event in NSW on the Labour Day weekend is the Telstra NRL Grand Final, on 4 October, which attracts a sell-out crowd at ANZ Stadium.
For something grittier, there’s the Deni Ute Muster, held in Deniliquin, from 2 to 3 October, for ute drivers and fans of Cold Chisel, Birds of Tokyo and Lee Kernaghan. Look for the ute on a pole, which commemorates the town’s holding of the Guinness World Record for the largest number of legally paraded utes.
Mountain biking, kayaking and running are all part of the Upper Murray Challenge on 3 October. It’s a one-day multi-sport challenge held in the foothills west of Mt Kosciuszko that involves a 38km mountain bike ride, 26km kayak paddle and 25km run. For another triathlon challenge, try the Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie on 18 October, where competitors from around Australia can compete in an age category that includes a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.
From 8-25 October, your tastebuds will love the Night Noodle Markets as part of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month. Art appreciators will be dazzled by the 2km-long Bondi to Tamarama spectacle of Sculpture by the Sea from 22 October to 8 November, a free event with more than 100 artworks.
Other festivals include Parramasala: A spicy celebration of cultures, at Parramatta and Harris Park from 23 to 25 October that features Bollywood dancers and yoga.
Enjoy the noise and power of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, from 8 to 11 October, at Mount Panorama for a 1000km endurance race on the famous track.
Let the memory live again at the Cats revival, straight from London’s West End, at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, from 31 October to 22 November.
If you’re travelling to regional areas, savour the vinous extravagance of the Orange Wine Festival from 16 October to 1 November; the month-long harvest delights of the Taste Riverina Food Festival in Wagga Wagga from 1 to 31 October; or a long-table dinner, 12 feature films and a starry-night concert at the Dungog Festival from 22 to 25 October.
The biggest day of the year in the Australian Football League is the AFL Grand Final, with 100,000 fans expected to be at Yarra Park on October 3. And the biggest news this year is that all Victorians will, for the first time, be able to celebrate with a public holiday on the eve of the grand final, when the parade of players and coaches weaves its way at noon through Melbourne CBD on October 2.
Muppets, Music and Magic: Jim Henson’s Legacy will commemorate 25 years since the great puppeteer passed away, and his rare works will be screened at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image until October 11. He is best-known for his work on Sesame Street and the Muppet movies, but early efforts will be unearthed from the Henson Foundation vaults.
For the artistically minded, there’s irreverent and unconventional haute couture in Jean Paul Gaultier’s ‘From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk’ exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria from 17 October to 8 February; and the Melbourne Festival from 18 to 25 October featuring international arts and culture, theatre, dance, music, films and free events. In central Victoria, do-si-do to the annual Maldon Folk Festival from October 30 to 2 November, with four days of folk music, workshops and lots of folk and bush dances.
Raise your heart rate at the Melbourne Marathon Festival on 18 October with the choice of various distances — the shortest is a 3km walk. All events end with a lap of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, featuring international competitors on a stunning racetrack at Phillip Island from 16 to 18 October, will also get your heart pumping.
Join the Love Boat Launch Party on the Reef Magic II at the Tropical Mardi Gras, Cairns, with the party occurring over the weekend from 1 to 5 October.
The Gold Coast will host its first Glitter Festival from 28 September to 5 October with art and culture for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, asexual and pansexual communities. Its purpose is to reignite the heyday of Surfers Paradise’s “Glitter Strip”. The entertainment line-up includes the first Gold Coast screening of Holding the Man, and Trevor Ashley’s Liza (On an E) show.
Rev your engines for the V8 Supercars Castrol Edge Gold Coast 600 from 23 to 25 October with the 300km enduro races on Saturday and Sunday. Other spectacles will be provided by 600-horsepower monster stadium trucks, imported from the US, which will jump ramps and fly 100m through the air at the same height as a two-storey building. Cold Chisel will perform popular hits such as Flame Trees and Khe Sanh on Saturday at Broadwater Parklands on 24 October.
If you need leafy ideas for your garden, head to the Brisbane International Garden Show from 8 to 11 October at Pine Rivers Park, Strathpine. Go to the free Plant Clinic for assistance and plant identification. There’s a Plant Cloak Room where you can check your plants in while you shop for more.
Three celebrity chefs from MasterChef Australia, Ben Milbourne, Georgia Barnes and Jessie Spiby, will give free demonstrations on how to cook their favourite recipes at the Perth Food & Wine Expo from 9 to 11 October. The festival, held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, offers up three days of gourmet food and wine and lots of free edible samples; take part in free classes on wine, cheese, beer and liqueur and check out more than 150 gourmet exhibits.
If good company while dining is more important, try the Breakfast with Elephants at Perth Zoo on 24 October. You’ll have scrambled eggs, bacon, muffin and sausages, while the elephants play soccer, music, do spray painting and trunk kisses.
See how the Governor of Western Australia lives when Government House Open Day is held on 18 October from 11am to 3pm. Bands and choirs will provide entertainment as you stroll through the house and gardens, exploring this grand heritage building.
It’s World Space Week from 7 to 10 October, and Gingin Observatory will hold a Dark Night in Toodyay, where you can peer through the telescopes at nebulae and star clusters. To get there, catch the train or drive about 85km north from Perth and stay at a B&B or bring a tent or caravan. There is also the Gravity Discovery Centre next door, which is open from 10am to 4pm.
WA Children’s Week will be celebrated from 24 October to 1 November with a free FunSafe Day at Whiteman Park on 25 October. Children’s Week Fairy Queen Ambassador, Caroline, will make an appearance and there will be more than 30 not-for-profit, community and government organisations in the Parent Expo area.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Ceduna Oysterfest, which runs over four days from 1 to 4 October. On Friday, head to the Ceduna Golf Club for Shuck’n Loud Live Music, with three bands playing and a lip-sync “Battle of all Battles”. The Oysterfest Parade will hit the streets on Saturday with several prizes for best float and best-dressed efforts. If you’re handy with a knife, you might take out the Fish Filleting competition. Don’t worry about missing the AFL Grand Final, as it’ll be screened at the McEvoy Marquee and Ceduna Foreshore Hotel bar. On Sunday, there will be more oyster eating and shucking competitions, a three-hour concert and a closing fireworks spectacular over Murat Bay.
For those who are getting better with age, there is the Australian Masters Games from 3 to 10 October, with about 60 sports to choose from and an expected 10,000 participants and up to a total of 1500 volunteers. You have to be at least 20-years-old to enter gymnastics events.
What the World Needs Now is Burt Bacharach who will begin his Australian tour at Adelaide Entertainment Centre on 24 October, along with other great acts during the month including KISS, Robbie Williams and Neil Diamond.
Enjoy rides on a steam train, petrol-engine train, miniature trains and tractor at the Annual Steam Spectacular Weekend at Pearn’s Steam World, from 31 October to 2 November. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. The museum has been run by volunteers since the 1980s and has more than 200 major items, which were collected by the Pearn family via their agricultural contracting business which has been operating in the area for more than 80 years.
Raise money for research into heart disease in the Run and Walk for your Heart in Launceston on October 4. It’s a 5km on-road run/walk, starting at Aurora Stadium at 10am. There’s a Kids’ 800m run from 9.30am. Enjoy a free healthy kick-start breakfast for all runners. Hobart will willkommen you to Oktoberfest on 24 October where you can “embrace your inner German” with Stein races, strong-woman battles, beard competitions, cow milking, eating bratwurst, oompah bands and beer.
Australian Capital Territory
Over the Labor Day weekend, sample a “signature dish” matched with local wines for $20 for savoury fare and $15 for desserts, at the Tradies Murrumbateman Moving Feast on 3 to 4 October. Murrumbateman is about 30 minutes’ drive from Canberra.
The annual Scott Australian 24 hour Mountain Bike Championships is on 10 to 11 October at Stromlo Forest Park, which will include a solo 24-hour championship run. Solo riders can enter an age-based section for the title of Australian national champion. Age-based team sections (the average age of all riders in your team) are calculated in a way to encourage families to take part together.
Pas de chat your way to the Canberra Theatre Centre to see Bolshoi Theatre soloist Gediminas Taranda star among 40 dancers in the Imperial Russian Ballet Company’s Swan Lake on 21 to22 October.
Enjoy an intimate performance by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by Richard Tognetti, for 380 people at Ayers Rock Resort on 30 and 31 October. William Barton will be a special guest, playing didgeridoo.
For glorious landscape digital photography, take a look at Aboriginal artist Leon Blignaut’s exhibition, Northern Territory Landscapes, from 5 to 31 October at Eco House, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Leon’s photos were taken when he travelled with his brother Bob on a motorbike through the outback and desert. Admission is free from 9am to 3pm.