What’s on in September 2016


This month’s top sports and cultural events.


Rugby: Australia vs South Africa; Australia vs Argentina

Having lost thrice to England in June, it’s fair to say the Wallabies got off to a poor start in the 2016 internationals. At the time of writing, the next two matches were against the All Blacks and we know how those tend to go. Perhaps the tussles with South Africa and Argentina will see the Aussies return to winning ways.

When: September 10; 17
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; NIB Stadium, Perth 

SEE ALSO: The World's First Silent Opera on Sydney Ooera House Steps


Ballet: Nijinsky; Coppélia

Featuring choreography by America’s John Neumeier, The Australian Ballet’s production of Nijinsky is a dark, deeply moving homage to Russia’s Vaslav Nijinsky, cited as the finest male dancer of the early 20th century. The playful Coppélia, on the other hand, is a widely accessible romp that all ages will enjoy.

When: September 7-17; September 23-October 1
Where: Arts Centre Melbourne; Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Melbourne Fringe Festival

Is this a case of anything Sydney can do, Melbourne can do better? The answer: this fringe fest simply happens to be on at the same time as Sydney’s and is set to be just as diverse, with more than 400 events to thrill and provoke. One to pencil in is the Kids vs Art podcast series at North Melbourne’s Arts House – it’s scathing and funny in a way that only kids can be.  

When: September 15-October 2
Where: Various venues

What’s on in September 2016

Mildura Country Music Festival

Whatever genre of country music you love – country rock, bluegrass or bush ballads – there’s a tune here to get your toes tapping. At this showcase for independent acts, more than 70 artists and groups will entertain over 10 days to celebrate the festival’s 30th anniversary.

When: September 23-October 2
Where: Mildura and nearby towns

Australian Motorcyle Grand Prix

If two-wheeled motor racing gets your engine running, there’s no better place to be in October than Phillip Island. Savour the stench of burnt rubber mingled with the scent of sea spray as riders race around the sport’s most picturesque circuit – not that they’re enjoying the view at 300 kilometres per hour.

When: October 21-23
Where: Phillip Island


AFL finals series

The word “mighty” is bandied about a lot in AFL circles. If it’s not commentators and fans yelling it through frothing mouths, it’s belted out with gusto in half the clubs’ songs. The Hawks, though, have well and truly earned the superlative, with three premierships on the fly. Who can knock them off their perch? The Swans? The Crows? Could be a stretch for the Giants. Go to afl.com.au

When: Various dates in September
Where: MCG and various venues 


St Albans Writers’ Festival

Billed as “Australia’s intimate writers’ festival”, this inspiring meeting of minds in the NSW village of St Albans was hatched by three book clubs and is now in its second year. Small in scale but big in names, the festival will feature more than 40 venerated writerly types, including Nikki Gemmell, Jane Caro and Richard Glover.

When: September 16-18
Where: St Albans Church and Settlers Arms Inn 

Sydney Fringe Festival

This indie arts fiesta is in its seventh year and you can expect its most dynamic incarnation yet. The program is packed with more than 300 events staged at 50 venues, including theatre, music, dance, comedy and film. Be sure to check out the pop-ups and performances at the Off Broadway cultural precinct on Parramatta Road from Glebe to Leichhardt, through Annandale.

When: September 1-30
Where: Various venues 

What’s on in September 2016

Deni Ute Muster

The Deni Ute Muster isn’t just about utility vehicles. Sure, there are ute races and ute-pulling competitions but there’s also a bull-ride spectacular and a truckload of Australian country music, with Keith Urban, John Williamson and Shannon Noll just three of the big names performing.

When: September 30-October 1
Where: Deniliquin Festival Site

Taste Riverina

This month-long celebration of agricultural produce from the Riverina, in the state’s south-west, lets you experience the bounty of the region. Events include a gourmet food and wine tour in Griffith, a visit to Springview Eco-Farm (home of “happy piggies”) and a butchery masterclass with chef Frederico Tidu.

When: September 30-October 31
Where: Riverina


NRL finals series

This NRL season has been full of highs and crushing lows (sound right, Eels fans?) and about as predictable as a pub toad-race during a blackout. But the Sharks have been consistently firing. Forty-nine years without a premiership – can their fans dare to dream when the Storm and Cowboys are so good at dishing out nightmares?

When: Various dates in September
Where: ANZ Stadium, Sydney, and various venues 


Swell Sculpture Festival

Sydneysiders reading this will draw comparisons to their city’s Sculpture by the Sea but over the past 14 years, this Gold Coast festival has been shaped into a popular and free public arts event to rival the best. Enjoy informative artist talks, kids’ workshops, masterclasses, twilight walks and more than 50 striking sculptures that merge into the coastal landscape.

When: September 9-18
Where: Pacific Parade, Currumbin 

What’s on in September 2016

Brisbane Festival

An estimated audience of about one million can expect a truly festive arts event when Brisbane comes alive with major Australian and international acts in a program of theatre, music, dance, circus and opera. Two likely sellouts will be surreal acrobatic circus show La Verità and a production of Snow White (containing adult themes) by French troupe Ballet Preljocaj.

When: September 3-24
Where: Various venues 

Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers

Its name, Carnival of Flowers, barely hints at this festival’s range of events. Green thumbs will love the ikebana exhibition and flower shows, while those so bad in the backyard that they could kill a rock garden can still have a ball at the concert series (Birds of Tokyo are headlining) and the food and wine festival.

When: September 16-25
Where: Various venues, Toowoomba 

Bell Shakespeare’s Othello

Shakespeare’s tragedy about a proud general’s descent into madness and murder is centuries old but its themes of jealousy, violence, prejudice and twisted ideals of honour and sexuality remain relevant today. Ray Chong Nee stars as Othello in this play performed in modern dress – a reminder that while fashions change, humankind can be slow to evolve.

When: October 1, 4, 6, 8, 11
Where: Caloundra, Gladstone, Townsville, Cleveland, Gold Coast 

Blackall Heartland Festival

On the 10th anniversary of the festival, get a taste of the outback at the Beef & Berocca Recovery Breakfast and the Golden Tongs barbecue cook-off. There’s also working-dog demonstrations, a shearing competition, an art exhibition, poetry readings and live music in a packed weekend that celebrates the culture of Queensland’s Central West.

When: October 14-16
Where: Various venues, Blackall

Whale watching

Humans are not the only mammals known to unwind at Hervey Bay. Every year, thousands of humpback whales take a break on their migratory journey to Antarctica to frolic in the warm waters off the Fraser Coast. Join the whale-watching fleet for close encounters with these magnificent creatures.

When: September-November
Where: Hervey Bay


Royal Adelaide Show

As South Australia’s largest event, The Show attracts more than half-a-million people – and plenty of animals – each year. Fun for the whole family? That’s the idea. More than 350 different show bags will be on sale, 35,000 coffees and 70,000 buckets of hot chips will be consumed and more than one person will turn a shade of green on a high-velocity, spinning ride. 

When: September 2-11
Where: Adelaide Showground

Renmark Rose Festival

This is one festival where you can literally stop and smell the roses. There are guided tours and flower-arranging workshops and many of the open gardens serve morning and afternoon tea. Murray River cruises and a Gala Dinner on the waterfront are other highlights. Be sure to visit Ruston’s Rose Garden, home of the National Rose Collection, which contains 50,000 bushes and nearly 4000 varieties – just leave your secateurs at home.

When: October 14-23
Where: Renmark and nearby towns 

Fleurieu Folk Festival

Folk, acoustic and roots performers from around the country converge on Willunga for this family-friendly festival featuring more than 50 acts. Children under 15 get in free and the Kidz Kaboodle space offers face-painting, song and dance activities, instrument making and – for talented tykes or tolerant parents – a children’s open-mic concert. 

When: October 21-23
Where: Willunga Recreation Park


Shinju Matsuri

One of the more regionally specific events this month, Shinju Matsuri means “festival of the pearl” in Japanese and is a celebration of Broome’s pearling history and its links to Asia. Eye-catching spectacles and events include the Sunset Long Table Dinner and the sea of floating lanterns at Cable Beach, the Shinju Matsuri Art Awards and fireworks. 

When: September 10-18
Where: Various venues, Broome

What’s on in September 2016

Kings Park Festival

A vibrant spectacle of blooms, Kings Park Festival features the largest display of Western Australian wildflowers, which number more than 12,000 species state-wide. Explore this expanse on the edge of Perth’s CBD through guided walks, take part in a creative writing session with writer-in-residence Nandi Chinna and check out The Future Keepers outdoor exhibition.

When: September 1-30
Where: Kings Park, Perth 

Pipeline Challenge

Get ready for a bumpy ride: the Pipeline Challenge is a five-day mountain-biking trek from Kalgoorlie to Perth. Head for the Perth Hills via the state’s Goldfields area and the glorious fields of the Wheatbelt region. Mercifully, the 600-kilometre ride can be tackled as a relay. There’s also a section open to electric bikes, if you want to put technology to the test rather than your quads. And you’ll be supporting Youth Futures WA’s work with young people.

When: September 25-29
Where: Kalgoorlie to Perth

Dirk Hartog Voyage of Discovery

While World Heritage-listed Shark Bay is great for spotting dugongs and feeding dolphins, in October the focus is on 17th-century Dutchman Dirk Hartog. The explorer made landfall on an island at the bay’s entrance, leaving a note claiming his discovery on a pewter plate. Mark the 400th anniversary of his arrival with a tour of a sailing ship, an outdoor concert or by partying like it’s 1616 at The Golden Age – 1616 Ball.

When: October 21-25
Where: Various venues, Shark Bay 



It may blow hot and cold in the nation’s capital – particularly in Parliament House – but in spring there’s arguably no prettier place, especially during Floriade. With more than 480,000 attendees annually, this is Australia’s most popular floral display. It’s the largest, too – one million blooms will be on show, providing a vivid backdrop to the festival’s live music and cultural events.

When: September 17-October 16
Where: Commonwealth Park, Canberra 

What’s on in September 2016

Floriade NightFest

The colour and excitement of Floriade continue into the evening at Commonwealth Park. From 6.30pm to 10.30pm, revellers are treated to live music and performances, including a show from Irish comedian Jimeoin. The park is a canvas for vibrant lighting designs, ensuring the site dazzles by day and night.

When: September 28-October 2
Where: Commonwealth Park, Canberra 

Contour 556

This inaugural public art festival is the brainchild of landscape architect Neil Hobbs. Taking its name from the surface elevation (in metres) of the national capital’s Lake Burley Griffin, the event is staged along the southern foreshore and showcases sculptures, music, sound installations and performance art by 50 local and international artists.

When: October 22-November 13
Where: Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra


Australian Antarctic Festival

As a launching point for Antarctic expeditions, Hobart has arguably more Antarctic scientists than any city in the world. During the festival’s talks, tours and exhibitions, learn about the work of the scientists, tradies and technicians who support Australia’s role on the icy continent – without facing the sub-zero temperatures they experience in the coldest, highest, driest and windiest place on Earth.

When: September 8-11
Where: Various venues, Hobart

The Unconformity

On Tasmania’s rugged West Coast, mine closures have seen the population dwindle but an artistic community has grown. The spirit of the place and people is captured in The Unconformity (formerly Queenstown Heritage and Arts Festival), named for a geological feature – the Haulage Unconformity – and the locals’ nonconformist nature.

When: October 14-16
Where: Various venues, Queenstown


Darwin International Film Festival

DIFF is the Top End’s premier curated program of new global cinema and regional gems. Held at the end of the dry season, most screenings take place under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema. Films to catch include Madly, which explores love’s many facets, and Zach’s Ceremony, the story of an Aboriginal boy’s initiation into manhood.

When: September 15-25
Where: Deckchair Cinema and BCC Cinemas 

What’s on in September 2016

Parrtjima – A Festival in Light

Australia’s biggest light-show installation showcases the oldest continuous culture on Earth through the newest technology on a 300-million-year-old natural canvas. That canvas is about 2.5 kilometres of the MacDonnell Ranges, which provides the backdrop for contemporary and traditional Indigenous art created by local artists. An inaugural event not to be missed. 

When: September 23-October 2
Where: Alice Springs Desert Park

Desert Mob

This major Indigenous arts event is more than a chance to buy striking contemporary artwork; it’s also an opportunity to gain insights into the lives of Aboriginal artists in Central Australia. At the Desert Mob Symposium (September 9), these outback artists share stories, images and films about their art, country and culture. The program of events finishes on September 10 but the exhibition runs until October 23.

When: September 8-October 23
Where: Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs 

Kakadu Bird Week

You may not know a Gouldian finch from a rainbow pitta but you don’t have to be a twitcher to be struck by the beauty of the Top End’s feathered locals and their habitat. During Kakadu Bird Week, take part in free tours and events with avian experts and participate in threatened species surveys.

When: October 1-9
Where: Kakadu National Park

SEE ALSO: The Hottest New Restaurants in September 2016

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