Friday, October 13, 2006

Celtic culture, bushy beards and plenty of Felicity

Photo: Felicity Urquhart

While I was thinking further about New England history, email to remind me that this year's Glen Innes Land Of The Beardies Festival will be held from 3 to 12 November.

Each spring, Glen Innes celebrates its unique Celtic heritage with its Land of the Beardies Festival, a rare and entertaining mix of Celtic culture, typical Australian pastimes and traditional events.

Along with the program favourites like the Beard Growing Contest, the strongman events and the street parade, the special highlight this year is a performance by the multi-award winning country singer Felicity Urquhart on Saturday, November 11.

The Festival kicks off on Friday November 3 with the opening of the Outback Memorabilia display in the Town Hall. On Saturday November 4 the major event is the ABCRA Rodeo at the Glen Innes Showgrounds, when riders from around the state compete for major prizes.

During the week, the Glen Innes History House offers a fascinating insight into the region’s heritage.

On Saturday November 11, the day begins with Market Stalls and a Celtic Pet Show, followed up in the afternoon with the lively street parade, which winds it way towards King Edward Park, where you’re guaranteed a full evening of family fun and entertainment.

This includes the beard-growing contest with sections for the longest, scruffiest and most eccentric beards; a truck parade and show; a Ulysses Motorbike Club display; and a concert by Felicity Urquhart supported by rising star Aaron Bolton. The night ends with a fireworks display.

Felicity Urquhart recently won three awards at the Telstra CountryWide Southern Stars 10th Annual Australian Independent Country Music Awards in Mildura.

Festival Chairman Alan Goldsmith said it was an absolute thrill to secure Felicity for the Festival.

“We expect Felicity’s appearance will bring even greater numbers to the Festival,” he said.

“We think this year’s program really offers something for everyone and trust people will find our Festival an enriching experience.”

Glen Innes Economic Development and Tourism Manager Wendy Fahey said the Festival gives visitors the chance to see some of the region’s other attractions.

“It’s an opportunity for visitors to come to Glen Innes and see the Australian Standing Stones – which are unique in the southern hemisphere, our World Heritage national parks, fossick for sapphires in the State’s richest region, fish for Murray cod, or simply enjoy our Heritage main street and tourist drives,” she said.

The saphires are not to be sneezed at. One of Australia's best prospecting areas runs along the western edge of the New England Tablelands between Glenn Innes and the nearby town of Inverell whose own Saphire Festival will be held from October 20 to 29.

Exactly how you go about unearthing them, though, requires just the right kind of advice. Here Glen Innes Tourism has just produced a new fossicking brochure that makes your chances of striking it rich just so much easier. Even if you don’t, this brochure will give any first-time fossickers a decent head start.

The “Fossicking in Celtic Country” brochure includes a guide to all the fossicking sites and reserves within easy driving distance of Glen Innes, a detailed map, rules and regulations, instructions on how to fossick and equipment required, a list of local gem sellers and a guide to gem festivals. Copies can be obtained by contacting Glenn Innes Tourism.

Location Details

Gelnn Innes sits at the junction of the New England and Gwydir Highways and is around four and a half hours driving time south of Brisbane, an hour and a quarter north of Armidale, around seven hours driving time north from Newcastle, a bit over eight hours north from Sydney, around two hours west from Grafton.

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