It doesn’t matter whether you’re a thrill-seeker into rodeos, horse racing and wife-carrying or if you prefer more leisurely pursuits such as culinary dinners, fishing and bush poetry — the Easter in the Country Festival in the outback Queensland town of Roma has something for everyone.
Recognised as one of Queensland’s premier Easter events, the five-day Easter in the Country Festival in Roma, 350km northwest of Toowoomba, encapsulates everything unique that outback Queensland’s lifestyle has to offer.
Being held from 28 March – 1 April 2024, the famous Festival is heading into its 48th year, offering a range of activities for the thrill-seeker, the cultural and culinary buff, as well as those who like to take things a little more leisurely. In 2024, Roma will once again showcase some of the best entertainment over the Easter long weekend.
It’s the relaxed country lifestyle and hospitality which makes Roma unique, and the festival provides quality entertainment for the whole family at an affordable price.
The showcase event — the day-long rodeo and concert on Easter Sunday — is second to none in the standard of the rodeo, with the best cowboys coming straight from the Sydney Show to put on a fantastic display, not to mention the fantastic night entertainment, which can all be enjoyed for the reasonable price of $110.
The festival gives an opportunity for the residents of the area to invite their relatives and friends, as well as ‘first timers’ to spend the long weekend in the country to enjoy the fantastic atmosphere and innate friendliness the Roma and the Maranoa Region has in spades.
Roma’s Easter in the Country was founded in 1976 by Wattles Football Club President, Noel Miller, who presented the idea of a Country and Western Festival for raising funds to build a new clubhouse for the association.
After a Sunday afternoon football match and a session at the Royal Hotel in Roma, Noel stood on a stool and announced to the bar that the festival would begin the following Easter in 1977.
The festival took the form of a country and western music event and rodeo for many years with the Wattles Club bowing out of the management when artists became too expensive.
Cities Football Club Inc took over the reins and the management of the festival then moved to a community organisation. Roma’s Easter in the Country Festival is now organised by the Easter in the Country Associated Inc. The working committee is made up of individuals from all walks of life who volunteer their time, experience and expertise to ensure the success of the festival.
The festival is supported by major sponsor — Origin Energy as an Upstream Operator for Australia Pacific LNG and Lion Product. Support sponsors are OMNi Helicopters, West Wind, Cement Australia and Woolworths.
Easter in the Country was a finalist in the Roma Business Awards 2022.
Among the highlights of the festival is the Outback Tucker Under the Stars dinner hosted in 2024 by Dan and Steph of My Kitchen Rules fame on Thursday 28 March from 5–11pm.
The hero of the night is beef, and the dinner is held at the Roma Saleyards — the biggest beef cattle selling venue in the Southern Hemisphere. Dan and Steph, with the Easter in the Country Committee, have put together a wonderful menu with beef as the hero of the night and which includes an entrée of beef onion and tomato cheese sausage, followed by beef cheeks or Asian style beef short ribs, finished off with chocolate brownie and mint cream.
Entertainment is provided and participants experience the beauty of the clear skies and hopefully the new Easter moon rising in the east! Tickets are $80 for adults and $20 for children, and they are selling fast.
On Easter Saturday, head to the Street Parade and Music Festival featuring the Bo’Ness Brothers, Angela Easton and the Voll Sister — all bringing youth and fantastic musical performances to the festival. Also on Saturday morning is internationally acclaimed Bluey and Bingo on the main stage with oodles of country markets a street parade busting with community pride and entertainment.
Saturday afternoon comprises racing of all sorts, including horses, speedway and dog racing.
Easter Sunday is not to be missed with a day-long rodeo from 8am–8pm with the best cowboys straight from the Sydney Show. This is an APRA sanctioned event and has grown in status and popularity.
After the rodeo, head straight back into the live music performances, with the Viper Creek Band and Adam Brand hitting the stage.
Other festival highlights include:
- Wife Carrying on Sunday morning
- The Eggcellent Afternoon with Bluey and Bingo on Good Friday with visits from the Easter Bunny all weekend
- Fishing competition on the Maranoa River Mitchell on Good Friday
- Art Show
- Quilting Exhibition
- Bush Gardens
- Roma Sings Bush Ballads and Bush Poetry — featuring Jeff Brown, Caitlyn Jamieson, Brian Weir, Alish Smith, Dean Perrett and Ray Essery
The full festival program is available on the website easterinthecountryroma.com.au
ROAMING AROUND IN ROMA
Roma is renowned for special events as well as its year-round attractions. Other popular events are the annual Picnic Races in March and the Roma Cup in November.
Visitors often start at the Big Rig Oil and Gas Interpretive Display (Oil Patch) … and definitely don’t miss the night show. On Tuesdays, and in the main tourist season on Thursdays, join the unusual and fascinating tour of the saleyards. Seeing Australia’s largest cattle selling centre in action at the Roma Saleyards is something you’ll remember for a long time. For a taste of natural beauty, walk around Roma Bush Gardens from which you can enjoy views of the Railway Dam.
The Hospital Hill Heritage Walk, is a 2km walk that takes in a dozen of the most historically significant sites of the early days of the oil and gas industry, including the site of the nation’s first petroleum well disaster. Also wander along Roma’s Historic Walk.
Roma is synonymous with bottle trees, so don’t miss the largest bottle tree with its gigantic girth of 9.13m, height of 6m and crown of 20m. Then see the Avenue of Heroes, featuring more than 140 bottle trees as a tribute to fallen soldiers from World War II.
Roma is on route to the Carnarvon National Park and is the gateway to the west and the outback. Just 500km from Brisbane, caravanners can take the route to Longreach and check out the Stockmans Hall of Fame or Quilpie to dig for dinosaur relics.
There are a couple of local caravan parks in Roma that offer a wide range of camping facilities. But for those visiting for the festival, there are two temporary campgrounds which have plenty of space and offer good facilities for caravanners and campers. Animals on leads are welcome and fire pits are also allowed (must be supervised and put out when not in use).
Bassett Park Camping
- Located in the Roma Bassett Park Showgrounds
- New toilet and shower facilities (cleaned three times daily)
- Onsite coordinator from 5pm Monday 25 March 2024
- Powered and unpowered sites available
- 10A power point per van/tent/camper (you will be required to provide 15A adaptor if required)
- Water points throughout the park but not every site has a water point
Bungil Street Camping
- Located at eastern end of Bungil Street, Roma
- Walking distance to the Big Rig Tourist Park and Roma CBD
- Temporary toilets and shower facilities (cleaned three times daily)
- Permanent on-site caretaker from 26 March 2024
- Running water available at three points - not at every site
- Power provided via on-site generators which are serviced daily (you may need to bring additional long leads just in case)
- Plenty of space for privacy
- Regular community bus will move between motels, camping site and festival venues
Campsite bookings can be made through the festival website.
Easter in the Country Roma in 2024 promises to be a terrific event with activities and entertainment to suit all tastes — it’s a unique outback Queensland event and definitely one to add to your bucket list.
Tickets bookings and further information is available online.