Note: Municipal areas of Burnie, Waratah-Wynyard and West Coast only.
Burnie show began over a century ago in 1913, though at that time, it was referred to as “Grand Spring Show.” If October doesn’t seem like springtime to you, then just visit Tasmania this time of year, and it will since the seasons are “opposite” in the Southern Hemisphere.
On the first Burnie Show, attendance was already at 3,000, quite high for the time. Today, however, over 12,000 local Tasmanians, Australian tourists, and international tourists come to the show every year. The crowds are thick and diverse, there being events for people of all ages.
As the holiday normally coincides with regularly scheduled off-school days, there are large numbers of children who come to see the petting zoo, enjoy entertainment in “Sideshow Alley,” go on various rides, and engage in competitive events.
The show in Burnie itself takes place at the Wivenhoe Showground on Smith Street, though similar shows take place in other towns throughout the area. There are numerous exhibits, including of locally grown produce, dairy cows, beef cows, goats, alpacas (like wooly camels without humps), horses, and other farm and ranch animals. There are also exhibits on local arts and crafts, homemaking skills like cooking and sewing, industrial and commercial machinery, photography, and more.
Sometimes, there are also raffles that raise money for noble causes, such as for Cancer Council Tasmania in 2015. The winners take away prizes as well, some of them worth thousands of dollars.
Besides Burnie, there will be shows in Waratah-Wynyard, just west of Burnie, and in West Coast, on the far western side of the island. Burnie is largely a forestry and agricultural area, Waratah-Wynyard includes some inland mining districts, and West Coast is a wilderness and eco-tourism area. The shows in each locale will reflect local industries and terrain.
Should you be touring Tasmania when Burnie Show days arrive, some things to do include:
- Enjoy the food at the shows. Going on carnival rides and perusing the equivalent of an American state fair is never complete without “dagwood dogs” and “fairy floss”. These are sold in abundance, besides other traditional eats.
- While in Burnie, take time to enjoy the local sports scene. There is an Australian rules football club called the Dockers who play at West Park Oval, and a rugby club nicknamed the “Mighty Emus” after the Burnie’s original name (Emu Bay). The latter play at Upper Burnie Sports Centre. There is also a Burnie Tennis Club and a soccer league.
- Not too far from West Coast, but in the forested highlands of central Tasmanian, is Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Clair National Park. There, you can see unique birdlife, wombats and wallabies, and large numbers of endemic (unique to the area) species. There are also two unusual fungi species that look like blue and red mushrooms. You can hike on local trails and start off on a long overland trek.
Burnie Show is a great stop for any tourist who loves a fair-like atmosphere, and once in the are, there is no reason not to strike out and see other sights as well.