If you want to put an Australian town on the map, build a big replica of a weird object. If you want it to stay on the map, hold a weird event.
So at least holds the prevailing wisdom of Ballina’s Big Prawn, Robertson’s Big Potato, Cradock’s Big Hat, Deni’s Ute Muster, the Henley-on-Todd dry river regatta, and, as of last weekend, Kurri Kurri’s Mullet Fest.
A small town in New South Wales’ Hunter Region, Kurri Kurri has been staring down the financial doldrums since the 2012 closure of its aluminium smelter – an industry that employed around 10 percent of the town’s 4,000-strong population.
With the economy languishing and businesses closing, Laura Johnson, publican of the local Chelmsford Hotel, knew something needed doing. The town’s best minds were summonsed to a brainstorming session in the front bar’s ‘Table of Knowledge’, where, amid much scratching of mullet-festooned noggins, local hairdresser Laura Hawkins looked around and happened on an idea.
The world’s most questionable hairstyle has been a point of pride for Kurri Kurri locals for years, with many pronouncing their locale the mullet’s birthplace – (although, if we’re going to split hairs, that rightful claim probably goes to Davie Crockett).
Nonetheless, Mullet Fest 2018 happened. Prizes were awarded in the categories of Junior Mullet, Grubby Mullet, Ladies Mullet, Red-haired Mullet, Everyday Mullet, and ‘Best Mullet of them All’. That coveted title, appropriately enough, went to a fella named Shane ‘Shag’ Hanrahan.
Think you might have the goods to take out Mullet Fest 2019? Get those tresses growing and keep abreast of all things Mullet Fest here. As event organiser Laura Johnson has noted, “We’ve already started planning for next year. We’re going to let people know the new categories well in advance so they can start growing their mullets early.” As if you needed any more incentive than that.
Photography: Neil Bailey, neilbailey.com