Gallery: Thousands relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

Published 4:00pm 11 July 2022

Gallery: Thousands relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival
Words by Ashleigh Howarth
Above: Maddi, Millie, Kim, Jason Wren and Hannah at the Abbey Medieval Festival on July 9. 

Thousands of Lords and Maidens from across the country made the pilgrimage to Caboolture over the weekend for the long-awaited return of the much-loved Abbey Medieval Festival.

The two-day festival saw plenty of sword fights, jousting, oil wrestling, dancing, falconry and even a castle siege – providing a historic insight into what life was like in the Middle Ages.

Festival Director Edith Cuffe said it was wonderful to see so many people in attendance following two years of cancellations.

“We estimate we had around 30,000 people come to the festival, with visitors coming from all over Australia including Melbourne, South Australia and Western Australia,” Edith said.

“It’s such an iconic event for Moreton Bay and I know it was sorely missed when it wasn’t on.”

The two-day spectacular at Abbeystowe saw plenty of history buffs dress to the nines in their best costumes, with plenty of knights, death doctors and even a few Kings and Queens seen walking amongst the crowd.

Moreton Bay Regional Councillor Brooke Savige said the festival provided a much-welcomed boost to the local economy.

“It is fantastic to see tourists back here in such a big way for the return of the Abbey Medieval Festival, which has injected more than $1 million into the local economy,” she said.

“The last two years have been tough for everyone, but no one has been harder hit than our hospitality and tourism industries, particularly here locally.

“This event has been so important for getting money back into the hotels and local cafes and providers.”

Where you snapped at the festival by our photographers? See our gallery below. 

Jousting a hit with the crowd

The sound of cheering echoed throughout the site as six professionally trained knights took to the jousting arena to go head-to-head in a bid to be crowned champion.

Jousting coordinator Luke Binks said it was exciting to compete in front of a home crowd.

“It’s fantastic to be back here at the Abbey Medieval Festival following a few years off,” Luke said.

“I was a little bit stressed and anxious before the festival because of all the rain, but when I came out on my horse, I was feeling really chilled.

“What we do here at the festival isn’t just a show – it’s an actual competition where the hits are real.”

This year Luke was determined to bring a sense of historical accuracy to the competition, by using the same rules that jousters would have adhered to in the mid-15th century.

To do this he put a solid wooden tilt down the middle of the riders and removed the outer tilt, which he likened to “using bumpers down when you are bowling”.

“It might not seem like a big change, but it really is,” Luke said.

“It makes the competition much more difficult for the knights, but they all performed really well without the outer fence.”

In addition, all the knights wore accurate replica suits of armour.

For those that might have missed this year’s event, Luke is urging people to mark next year’s dates into their calendar.

“Nowhere else in Australia or the Southern Hemisphere has a purpose-built jousting arena with knights that train here fortnightly and are prepared to put their life and their body on the line to do this for you,” he said.

“If you haven’t seen jousting before, you have to come and see it.”

Gallery: Thousands relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

Festival a favourite with reenactors and historical groups

One person who never misses the Abbey Medieval Festival is Steven Weier, from the Brisbane-based living history group called The Order of the Dracul (pictured above). 

Steven, who has been attending the festival for roughly two decades, said it was one of his favourite days of the year.

“We had our first official visit at the festival as The Order of Dracul in 2007, but myself and Leanne, who I formed this group with, have been coming to the festival long before that when we were part of another group called the Richard the Third Society,” Steven said.

“It really is a highlight of my year, and with COVID, we really missed coming here the last two years.”

The Order of the Dracul focus on the life and times of Prince Vlad III of Wallachia, who is also known as Vlad the Impaler.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the life and exploits of Prince Vlad III form the basis of Bram Stoker’s fictional character Count Dracula.

“We get a lot of people coming up that have heard of Prince Vlad III, and one of the first questions they always ask us is “isn’t he a vampire”.

“That’s a nice start because then we can explain more about him, and people are always fascinated to learn more.”

Just like Luke, Steven would also like to encourage others who haven’t been to the Abbey Medieval festival to come and check it out next year.

“It’s such a visual experience because there is so much to see and do,” he said.

“It’s a great combination of fun and education, so if you’re interested in a specific time of history in the Middle Ages, I can guarantee there will be a group representing that era.”

Gallery: Thousands relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

Money to grow the festival and museum

The State Government has provided $2.1 million in its 2022-23 budget which will go towards the Abbey Medieval Festival and Museum to bring in more visitors.

According to Edith, the money will be used to build an art gallery and a café, with additional funding to be used to provide more permanent infrastructure for future festivals.

“We are very excited that we have $2.1 million from the State Government and that is to expand our museum with a cafe and an art gallery,” she said.

“We also received $400,000 to put towards some infrastructure here on the festival site, which we hope will be grandstands.”

Queensland’s Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said he was pleased with this investment, knowing the festival is a highlight of the winter calendar.

“We’re backing Abbeystowe’s plans to attract more visitors with $2.1 million in the budget for the art gallery and café,” he said.

“More visitors mean more support for local jobs, accommodation providers, restaurants, cafes and tourism operators in the Moreton Bay Region.

“Abbeystowe is part of our commitment to growing tourism infrastructure and investing in iconic visitor experiences.

“Both are key recommendations of the independent Tourism Industry Reference Panel for reshaping Queensland’s visitor economy toward 2032.

“Earlier this year, our Destination Events Program also delivered $105,000 over three years to secure the post-pandemic future of Abbey’s unique medieval event.”

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