Feature image: Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.
Your June long weekend plans are sorted, with the iconic Fat Tyre Festival gearing up for a weekend of cycling, camping, music and good times!
Over the weekend, the small town of Melrose in the southern Flinders ranges will see its tiny population swell to the thousands as mountain bike and gravel riders turn up with tents, campers and swags for the annual Melrose Fat Tyre Festival.
The festival is a symbol of regeneration and hope for this town, after 2020’s travel restrictions saw the flow of tourists slow to a trickle.
“Last year’s festival was cancelled, and with COVID lockdowns a constant threat, organising a festival for 2021 was a leap of faith,” says Richard Bruce, founder of local bike shop and cafe, Over the Edge Melrose.
Millions of dollars in state and federal funding was announced in 2020 for the development of mountain biking and other adventure tourism in the region means that Melrose’s trail network is better than ever, and the local bike club and businesses are keen to show it off.
The Fat Tyre Festival is also a family affair, with riders of all ages and their partners and children getting involved in the music, art making and main street fun as well as taking part in guided bike rides and skills workshops. A film night for kids, yoga, nighttime bike orienteering, and ‘no lights, no lycra’ dance night will keep the creative vibes happening off the trails.
The main street of Melrose will be closed to traffic and filled with food trucks, local musicians and buskers, street games and riding competitions, as well as shows by heart-stoppingly daring local stunt rider Connor Hogan.
While the festival usually sees visitors and stallholders from around the country and even overseas, this year it will be a South Australian affair.
“We’re lucky to have some amazing artists and makers from the Flinders region, Clare Valley and Adelaide coming to the festival,” says Richard.
“The Melrose Fat Tyre Festival helps to promote and support local South Australian businesses that are creating clothing and equipment for the growing mountain biking community, like ioMerino, Dharco, and Rubber Side Down.”
The festival is about more than mountain biking – artists from the region will be hosting workshops where festival-goers can help to create new sculptures and artworks to be displayed on the local trails.
The town’s historic Jacka Brothers’ Brewery is a physical symbol of the upward trajectory of this tiny ‘town that could’ – the stone tower lay in near-ruin after the brewery shut down in the 1930’s depression, but has now been restored to a stunning events venue. With a view of the majestic Mount Remarkable, it will be a great place to soak up the festival atmosphere and enjoy some food and locally-brewed beer – a nod to the thriving past of this, the oldest town of the Flinders Ranges, and its optimistic future.
To read more about the Fat Tyre Festival, click here.