Australian Outback Spectacular: Spirit of the Horse
Since it opened in 2006, over 1.5 million people from around the world have marched past the billabong into the massive arena, proudly sporting stockmen hats, and have been entertained by Australian Outback Spectacular’s action-packed shows. The dinner theatre has been sharing various aspects of the Australian outback’s culture and history through a series of productions featuring dazzling special effects, powerful musical scores, magnificent animals, skilled horsemanship and a talented cast with sharp senses of humour.
The first production celebrated country life overall and the second, ‘Heroes of the Light Horse’ focused more on the vital role that the Light Horsemen played in World War I. Now, the tale continues with Australian Outback Spectacular’s third chapter, ‘Spirit of the Horse.’
“The new show brings to life the iconic Australian story of Phar Lap, a legendary horse that gave Australia courage and hope during the nation’s Great Depression,” Production Manager Shane Phillips said.
Overcoming several adversities, Phar Lap achieved 37 wins from 51 starts and triumphed in several major races, including the Melbourne Cup and the Agua Caliente Handicap, despite the odds being stacked against him. Bought for only US $130, Phar Lap and his victories earned prize money of ₤56,425, plus US $50,000. In addition to paying tribute to Phar Lap, the latest show, which is proudly presented by R.M. Williams, highlights how horses have helped build the nation from its beginnings. As Shane Phillips described, it is “a historical parade, featuring scenes based on key elements of the different eras.”
Beginning in the 1800s, there are scenes dedicated to the work of the overlanders and the First Fleet Arrival; moving forward, there is an entertaining 1900s-inspired act where troopers hold up a stagecoach; and, finally, related to more recent years, the story illustrates the importance of the horse in the Great Australia Cattle Drive.
The Production: Lights, Music, Action
In the cattle drive scene, a visually beautiful motion picture of 5000 head of cattle being mustered on Queensland’s Mount Isa plays in the background; powerful audio of hooves hitting ground rumbles the stadium’s seats; stampeding cattle and energetic characters on a variety of vehicles rip through the arena; and a mustering helicopter flies above it all!
In all of the show’s scenes, Australian Outback Spectacular brings history to life with the latest entertainment technology. The venue has a light system composed of 300 fixtures, including 50 moving lights and over 250 colour scrollers, and a new 35m-wide high definition digital projection system.
Dedicated to producing visually stunning shows, the creative team has carefully selected stories that appeal to the eyes, many of which, Shane Phillips explained, are inspired by the breathtaking photography in acclaimed Director Simon Wincer’s films, ‘The Man From Snowy River’, ‘The Lighthorsemen’ and ‘Phar Lap.’
In addition to the impressive visuals, the show transports the audience to the outback through a unique musical score written and composed by country music legends Lee Kernaghan and Garth Porter; this is played on a 14-point surround sound system, so you feel the music.
Further encouraging a realistic experience are the special effects, such as a thunderstorm in the stadium, authentic vehicles, such as Essex cars, costumes and props, as well as the thrilling live action, including new quad jumping stunts and new trick rides such as vaulting and roman riding over fire!
If you’ve been to one of the shows before, you can expect to see the quirky characters you know and love, but also to meet new ones. Johno Johnson, the main character from the first two shows is still hosting, but his wife, Annie Johnson, is now introduced—and suddenly the homestead is much tidier! The town clown, Bluey, is also up to his old antics, but this time spends the show struggling to catch a rabbit.
While Australian Stock Horses, the animal stars of ‘Heroes of the Light Horse’, are still part of the action, Thoroughbred Horses steal the spotlight in the new show, as it celebrates Phar Lap. And all of the other favourites, including the Longhorn and Santa Gertrudis cattle, camels, sheep, dogs and piglets, are still delighting the crowds!
Then there is the rowdiest of the bunch—the audience! Separated into two opposing homesteads, guests cheer on their stockmen and women in a number of exciting events to take the title of ‘top station’.
While featuring modern technologies, the arena maintains an old-fashioned Aussie feel. From the sand arena to corrugate iron roof and from the galvanized railings to the wagon wheel light fittings, every detail of the venue is designed to represent an authentic outback shearing shed. Further, as the massive arena comfortably accommodates 1000 guests using stadium seating, everyone enjoys clear views of the show!
The Grub and Grog
You may have a drink at the traditional Australian country bar while catching the pre-show entertainment or you can wait to whet your whistle inside the arena, where the beer, wine and soft drinks are included! When the stadium doors open, the entrée, a spinach and ricotta tart, awaits you. While this entrée is new to ‘Spirit of the Horse’, the rest of the Aussie feast remains the same. “You don’t change what works; the steak is a staple,” Shane Phillips clarified.
When the time comes, the main meals are dished out in record time—1000 main courses are served in 8 minutes! The fan favourite Shane referred to is a barbecue tenderloin beef steak with rich gravy, but alternatives are available for vegetarians and for children. Completing the feast is a traditional baked Pavlova!
The Need-to-Knows: When, Where and How Much
Shows run every night from Tuesday to Sunday, except on December 25.
Doors open at 6:30pm; pre-show entertainment begins at 6:45pm; show starts at 7:30pm and finishes at 9:00pm.
Australian Outback Spectacular is located on Entertainment Road at Oxenford, between Warner Bros. Movie World and Wet'n'Wild Water World.
Adult: From $99.99
Child (4-13 years): $69.99