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Black Mountain Unplugged

Home > Far North Queensland > Camping | Escape the City | Festivals | Music | National Parks
by Katy Holliday (subscribe)
A freelance property, lifestyle and travel writer based in the picturesque Sunshine Coast Hinterland. See more of my work at
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Bringing music to the bush
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The Hillbilly Goats, photo by Anika Betts

Black Mountain National Park is a mass of granite boulders located 25 kilometers south of Cooktown along the Mulligan Highway. It's a dramatic, bold landscape that greets you as you drive towards the national park. The highway is wedged in the valley between two mountains of granite rock. Black Mountain has many interesting points that make it a good place to visit. It's even home to three of its own native species– a skink, a frog and a gecko. It is also a deeply spiritual place; an electrifying energy can be felt at the site when perched upon a boulder contemplating the vista.

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Black Mountain

There is much mystery and intrigue shrouding the cavernous Black Mountain. Many people have gone missing, perhaps slipped through the openings between boulders. Those who have gone searching for them have disappeared too. Be warned, it is definitely not advised to go hiking in this area. If you do it's at your own peril. As the Queensland's Department of Environment and Resource Management says:

Stories abound of people, horses and whole mobs of cattle disappearing into the labyrinth of rocks, never to be seen again.

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Black Mountain Unplugged 2013 line up

Another good reason to see this remarkable part of the world is that nearby, in mid-August, there is a small country and folk festival called Black Mountain Unplugged. As the name suggests the music will be acoustic. This is the real country deal.

Although World Heritage Rainforest is just around the corner, at Black Mountain Unplugged it will be the proper bush with camp showers and long drop toilets, a swimming hole and goannas rustling through the scrub. Just be careful if the music doesn't charm the snakes!

This is not a festival for the faint of heart. At Black Mountain Unplugged you will find no pretences – it's all about the music, the environment and good wholesome fun. Included in that fun are some activities for everyone: the Great Black Mt Underpants Race (maybe not everyone's cup of billy-tea), the Roadies Rock Quiz and the Muso Olympics. There will be a handful of market stalls and food will be organised by the Rossville Fire Brigade and the school P&C.

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The Great Black Mt Underpants Race

It's the second year running for this tiny festival. A maximum of 400 tickets are being released. That's intimate. The organizers refer to it as a gathering. You can book directly through local band the Hillbilly Goat's at one of their numerous gigs in the Cairns region, purchase them at the Lion's Den, or through the Black Mountain Unplugged Facebook page or email. Put your scootin' boots on and dance to Tiffany Eckhardt & Dave Steel, the Montgomery Brothers, Melbourne's whacky Tim Woodz, Roz Pappalardo, the Secret Tuesdays, Road Trippers, Hillbilly Goats, Danny Ross (the Voice), Watling & Bates, Leanne Tennant, Ray-Lee and much more. You can check for more music updates on the Facebook site.

Another spooky thing about Black Mountain is that there is no phone reception! Eerie, I know. Make sure you bring food and water supplies and all your necessary camping gear with you. If you lack for anything you can make a pit-stop at the iconic Lion's Den or race over to Cooktown for a little civility.

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BMUP Front Gate

Check out this video of the Road Trippers performing at last year's festival.

In September the region also hosts Wallaby Creek Festival.
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Why? To be a boot-scootin baby
When: August 9-11
Phone: Lion's Den Pub - 61 7 4060 3911
Where: Black Mountain, Far North Queensland
Cost: $50 for entry for the weekend and camping included. Children under 15 are free.
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