The Walcha Mountain Festival is on again! What a great occasion to catch up with friends or to bring the whole family along to enjoy a wonderful event filled weekend in beautiful Walcha. There is much to do and see at this year’s festival, with a few new additions to the programme. Susie Crawford from Walcha Tourism gives us some background on this popular event.
What is the Walcha Mountain Festival, and how long has it been running?
The Walcha Mountain Festival is gearing up for its eighth year now. The festival was initially developed as an event to support the Walcha Mountain Bike Challenge, which is one of the fundraiser events for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter. These two events still work cohesively, but the festival is a great day out for more than the rock-hopping mountain bikers! 2015 marks Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service celebrating 40 years of service, so we are expecting bigger numbers at this year’s event.
2015 will mark the fourth year of the Walcha Mountain Festival being a two day event, with a Road Ride Challenge (for the cyclists who like to stick to the tar!) and Billy Cart Derby held on the Saturday in conjunction with the monthly Walcha Farmers Market and Trash n’ Treasure Market.
The 75 km Road Ride Challenge (also a fundraiser for Westpac Rescue Helicopter) takes you through the picturesque surrounding villages of Kentucky, Wollun and Walcha Road. It’s a great ride for anyone to take part in and although it’s a “challenge” and not a “race”, the competitive riders can’t help but unleash the beast within and ride their hearts out in an attempt to be first across the line!
The Billy Cart Derby begins at 10:30am and sees competitors hurtle down the impressive South Street hill, just near the Walcha Farmers’ Market, where great coffee, beautiful food and produce await.
How has the festival grown over the years?
It would have to be said that the biggest change in growth to the Walcha Mountain Festival was in 2014 due to the change of venue on the Sunday. The festival and Westpac Rescue Helicopter Mountain Bike Challenge is now held in the stunning grounds of “Langford”, the iconic historical Edwardian homestead located on Thunderbolts Way 1 km south of Walcha. Having the festival at “Langford” has been a game-changer; we now attract vintage car and motorbike clubs, we had around 50 vintage cars on display last year, and we have invited the vintage motorbike clubs to attend this year. Model boat and ship clubs are coming to have a cruise around the beautiful Langford Lake, which was a popular attraction last year. There are hourly guided tours of Langford homestead being conducted (book on the day or if you are restricted with time, you are able to pre-book @ 6774 2460). There is a three course long lunch in the Langford dining room for $55 (bookings essential: 6778 0395; menu available at www.walchamountainfestival.org). The Australian Wool Fashion Awards Parade has been a great attraction of the festival for many years; they are a crowd favourite and attending again this year.
This year’s festival includes two new additions to the event programme. A Quilt Exhibition will be held over both days in the restored woolshed at Langford Homestead. A three hour Horse Trail Ride has also been organised, which will take in the pretty countryside of Langford and surrounding properties. Participants require their own horse and must book in advance with the organiser, Ian Mackey, by phoning 6777 6592.
With the festival now being at “Langford”, guests have plenty to see and do, or they can merely kick back and relax under the shade of a tree, grab a casual lunch, a craft beer or glass of boutique wine while enjoying the band, fashion parade and other entertainment and stalls with a few friends.
Is this an event for all the family?
ABSOLUTLEY! For the younger kids we have FREE face painting and a jumping castle, an egg throwing competition and bush croquet (croquet hoops but a ranging variety of sticks and balls) which the older kids enjoy too. This year we have a mobile Rock Climbing Wall which is sure to challenge the older kids and even adults, who will be keen to have a crack at climbing to the top. The family bike ride, which would suit all ages and level of rider (own bike required, and you can enter on the day) would be a lovely event to do with the whole family, and you can do as many loops as you like. Then for mum and dad we have a local winery, Whyworry Wines, and New England Brewing offering a variety of craft beers and wine, live entertainment and a fashion parade. The vintage cars and motorbikes, model boats and Langford homestead tours will be of interest to everyone, as will the quality market and produce stalls making up the rest of the festival.
Who would you like to thank?
I would like to thank the committee, who work so tirelessly, donating their time and energy each year into creating this great event for the town; the sponsors, for their generous donations and supporting local events such as the Walcha Mountain Festival; The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service; the vintage bike and car clubs, and model boat clubs for attending; Barry and Beverley Marshall of Langford Homestead for so generously offering their home as a venue; and Walcha Council for their ongoing support of an event that brings people to Walcha.
Plans for the future?
Continue to grow the festival and build its reputation as a fantastic, must-do weekend in beautiful Walcha, which is great fun for the whole family.