The twin towns of Forster-Tuncurry have a vibrant mix of art, sport and cultural events throughout the year. Not surprisingly, there are many water-based events given the geography of the area. The combined population of around 19,000 may be relatively small by some standards but this is no barrier to having a diverse range of festivals and events on offer.
If you are after a day of good, clean family fun you can’t beat country race meetings. The Tuncurry Forster Jockey Club runs 2 meetings a year at the Tuncurry Racetrack. Officially opened in 2009, the success of this club is largely due to the hard work of dedicated volunteers over nearly 30 years. On race days you can hire a gazebo, pay for pavilion entry or set up your own picnic on the grounds. Pavilion members are catered for while outside, vendors will have a rich variety of food on offer including fresh, local seafood.
The 2015 race days are:
Saturday 28 February and Saturday 12 September
The Forster Film Festival is held annually on the Labour Day long weekend in October. It is one of the most prestigious regional film festivals in Australia and showcases a wide variety of quality short films. The historic Marine Rescue Building near the Forster break wall provides an excellent venue. A variety of workshops are held in conjunction with the festival to pass on practical film-making skills.
The winning entries receive generous cash prizes and they are also featured in a festival tour that takes place in local venues the following January.
The 2015 Film Festival will be held from 3 – 5 October. Be sure to book your tickets and accommodation in advance to avoid missing out.
The annual Lakeside Festival is held at John Wright Park in Tuncurry. The park is nestled in a scenic spot at the base of the bridge overlooking the Wallamba Channel at the Wallis Lake entrance.
It is a feast of sights, sounds and tastes and features participants from many surrounding regions. You can wander around and sample some of the fabulous food on offer including the famous Wallis Lake Oysters and watch an oyster shucking demonstration. Bands and solo musicians perform a mix of original music and classic covers throughout the day. Close to the bridge you will find a pop-up art gallery showcasing the beautiful work of local art and craft groups.
There is a small admission fee for adults and children under 16 are free. The event is licensed so minors must be supervised by an adult at all times. There is no BYO food or drink but you can certainly bring along a rug or chair to relax on while you enjoy the day.
Saturday 7 November
The Jeff Wilcox Memorial Body Boarding Competition has been run in the Great Lakes region by the family of the late Jeff Wilcox for over 17 years. It commemorates the life of a young local boy who had a passion for body boarding and the event has grown in stature over the years. It now attracts entrants from across Australia and from overseas.
Taking full advantage of the spectacular waves on the local surf beaches, riders flaunt their skills in aerial displays and barrel riding. The event is held around August each year and the 2015 dates are yet to be finalized.
The Forster Island Challenge and the Forster Island Paddle Festival have been combined to form a massive weekend event in February.
The annual Forster Island Challenge is not for the faint-hearted. It takes place on and around Miles Island and Leon Island in Wallis Lake and involves swimming 835 m and running just under 3 km. However this is no ordinary biathalon, here participants alternate between running and swimming multiple times for short distances.
Sunday 15 February
The Forster Island Paddle Festival is a newer event taking place on the same weekend. It showcases the popular Stand Up Paddle (SUP) style of paddling with 8 different races set around the foreshore and Miles Island.
14 – 15 February
The Pacific Palms Surf Club plays host to hundreds of swimmers every Easter keen to have a go at the Rock to Rock Ocean Swim. This 1.5 km event is held at the spectacular Elizabeth Beach in Pacific Palms south of Forster. As this beach faces north it is sheltered from the ocean winds making swimming conditions more manageable. Visitors to the area are welcome to participate but must pre-register with the club.
Sunday 5 April
As you explore the Great Lakes region you will also discover many local markets, more water sport events and a variety of exhibitions. There are plenty of activities here for the whole family to enjoy. Come and explore for yourself.