the sign on display at millmerran promoting the australian camp oven festival

My Recap of the 2021 Australian Camp Oven Festival.

This year on the Queen’s Birthday weekend in Queensland, Thousands of visitors travelled to a little town, one-hour drive southwest of Toowoomba called Millmerran, for the biennial 2021 Australian Camp Oven Festival, the largest of its kind in Australia and definitely well worth checking out.

This year myself, along with the wife and my inlaws, we arrived at the 2021 Australian camp oven festival gates with our caravans in tow on Friday ready to get ourselves set up at camp ready for the festival to kick off Saturday morning.

We were racing to set up before the storm came Friday afternoon, as it was forecasted to be a severe storm warning with a chance of hail, luckily it went past to the side of us with only a bit of rain, and we got some stunning weather for the rest of the festival.

What started out as a friendly camp oven cooking competition between a couple of teams and has now become one of the most popular camp oven cooking festivals in Australia, and there’s a good reason for that.

Despite the festival being cancelled in 2020 due to the covid pandemic, this year we saw the return of the camp oven festival and Wow, what an awesome festival it was!!

As always you can see the dedication the committee put into organising the festival, even down to the addition of the “Can oven” for recycling drink cans and in my opinion, they did a fantastic job and definitely deserve a big “thank you” for creating such a great event.

2021 Australian Camp Oven Festival Millmerran | The Camp Oven Cook
The can oven was made to recycle cans at the festival. Photo Bruce Wright

It’s Australia’s longest-running camp oven cooking event, first debuted back in 1999, the festival was the brainchild of outback icons Gary Fogarty and Ned Winter.

2021 Australian Camp Oven Festival Millmerran | The Camp Oven Cook
The popular damper throwing competition. – Mick Viller 2018

The Australian camp oven festival was held on the weekend of the 2nd and the 3rd October 2021 and includes a diverse range of heritage-inspired activities, damper throwing competitions, live music, market stalls, bush poetry, camp oven cooking demonstrations, and camp oven cooking competitions!

This is the fifth time attending the event and I think the best way to experience the Australian Camp Oven Festival is to camp onsite at the Showgrounds so you can come and go over the weekend to make sure you can see all that the event has to offer.

Photos from the festival

Camp Oven Ally – Camp Oven Cooking Competition

This year saw the most ever amount of teams competing, with 20 teams all up across all levels, the 2016 Australian Camp Oven Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary with 15 teams competing in camp oven ally.

2021 Australian Camp Oven Festival Millmerran | The Camp Oven Cook
530am meeting with the official’s, Mary and Camron ready for a 6 am Competition start.

Also in camp oven ally was the Gidgee gang demosand workshops, dinner under the stars, and 3 daily demonstrations from the king of camp oven cooking, Ron Willson.

2021 Event Details

  • When: 1st – 3rd of October 2021
  • Place: Millmerran Show Grounds
  • Address: Millmerran-Cecil Plains Road, Millmerran QLD 4357

2021 Adult Ticket Pricing

  • Weekend Pass – $45 Online | $50 at the Gate
  • Saturday Pass – $27 Online | $30 at the Gate
  • Sunday Pass – $18 Online | $20 at the Gate

NoteChildren 17 and under are free.

2021 Onsite Camping Pricing

  • Powered sites (regular 12×16) – $160
  • Powered sites (large 12X7) – $170
  • Unpowered sites – $70

My Final Thoughts

Over the past five festivals, I have seen the festival evolve and grow to what it is today, Just Remember that while It’s called a “camp oven festival”, it has evolved into more of an Australian History Festival with a side serving of camp oven cooking.

Don’t get me wrong this is far from being a bad thing as it’s providing so much to see and do, and camp oven cooking is very much a part of our Aussie history. And for the next festival, I would like to see more emphasis on centring it around Camp Oven cooking as the focal point.

Get ready to season your camp ovens, stoke your campfires and practice your camp oven cooking as the iconic Australian Camp Oven Festival is kicking off again in October 2022.

Mick, What would you like to see at the next camp oven festival?

  • More camp oven collections – We have so many collectors of camp ovens that i would love to see them all put on a display, just like everyone turning up with their vintage car to a car show.
  • More Camp Oven Cooking Competitors – I would love to see more teams, beginners and kids entering the competitions, to help encourage more beginners that i think the Festival needs to provide a basic area with shade, tables, a communal wash-up area and a communal fire pit for coals, i do believe this would definitely see more beginners getting involved.
  • More variety of camp ovens and equipment for sale – While there is a big market stall area, there is never stalls selling products like camp ovens, recipe books, lid lifters, heatproof gloves that complement the show, other than the festival. I would like to see a more diverse range of sellers just like you would see at a caravan or four Wheel drive show.
  • More Variety of Camp Oven demonstrations – I would love to see a more diverse range of camp oven cooking demonstrations and even a hands-on teaching area would be good also.

Mick, Do you recommend attending the festival?

Absolutely yes, the festival is definitely worth a visit and there is always so much to see and do to keep you busy all weekend and to make the most out of the festival, I would definitely recommend you to camp at the festival.

For more details about the camp oven festival visit their website here

Frequently asked questions

What does my entry fee cover?

Your ticket covers everything inside of the festival gates, excluding camping, food and drinks and merchandise from the retailers. Some of these things are the main stage entertainment and demonstrations by various camp oven experts, vintage displays. Note: Some onsite competitions will have a small entry fee. More information here

Is there potable water onsite? 

Yes, all water onsite and is treated town water and is safe to drink. 

Can you have a campfire at your campsite?

No – for your safety and as part of the insurance cover we cannot allow fires in undesignated areas.
You may use heat beads at your site as long as it is in an enclosed device e.g. an Oz pig, portable firepit. Someone must be in attendance while the heat beads are going in case of a fire.

Can you taste the camp oven competition food?

No, however if you would like a feed of camp oven food you can purchase this from the camp oven catering tent.

Are there toilets and showers?

Yes, there a number of toilets and showers available across the site. We continue to improve the facilities but please remember that our camping grounds are used only a few times a year. You can bring your own portable toilet and there is a dump point In town.

Do you have to camp to attend?

no, we welcome day tripers as you just need to purchase a ticket, the busiest day being the Saturday.

How long can you camp for?

Festival Camping is one flat fee Campsites are available from Monday 26th September to Tuesday 4th October and your camping fee allows you to stay for as many nights as you like during that time. More information here

Can anybody enter the cooking competitions?

Yes, you sure can, the Festival several categories for all experience levels. The levels are – Championship, Intermediate, Drovers Apprentices (for youth under 18) and our Beginner category.  More Information here

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