May 2, 2018
The reopening of the $23 million Waltzing Matilda Centre may have been great news for the tiny western Queensland town of Winton but its impact was felt 1200km away in Boondooma.
The Waltzing Matilda Centre was destroyed by a fire in 2015.
Its reopening was marked with a $2 million, four-day Way Out West country music festival featuring 100 top US and Australian artists.
Unfortunately, Way Out West was held just a few days before the start of this year’s 18th annual Spirit Of The Bush Balladeers Muster at Boondooma Homestead so the number of caravanners was down as a result.
The Boondooma Muster featured a line-up of more than 50 Australian country music artists, walk-up acts and bush poets who performed over five days from April 25 to 29.
It also offered guests displays of vintage machinery and antique cars; camp oven cooking; an array of exotic food and goods stalls; and the camaraderie that comes from camping out in the western South Burnett at one of the region’s most iconic historic homesteads.
The Muster is organised by Buddy Thomson, the president of the Boondooma Music and Heritage Association, with the help of a committee and about 50 volunteers who come from “all over” to help.
It usually attracts 400 to 500 caravanners every time it runs, and is one of the Homestead’s major annual fund-raisers.
This year, caravan numbers were down to 300, which Muster organisers have attributed to the Waltzing Matilda Centre’s reopening.
Even so – and including day visitors – the Homestead played host to about 800 guests over the five days who enjoyed the usual good humour and warmth of the event, along with pleasant April weather.
They also got to participate in Boondooma Homestead’s Anzac Day commemorations on April 25, and a bush church service on the muster’s final day, Sunday, April 29.
Buddy was unperturbed about this year’s visitor numbers.
What was more important, he said, was that loyal regulars had a great time and everything ran smoothly, including an improved sound system that got its first try out this year.
The Homestead’s next major event will be its annual Scots In The Bush celtic festival, which will run on August 16-19.