Relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

Published 12:00pm 1 June 2023

Relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

The Caboolture district will once again travel back in time to the Middle Ages in July with the return of the Abbey Medieval Festival.

Held over two days on July 8 and 9, the festival is the largest event hosted by the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, attracting more than 20,000 visitors to the region. 

All the fun will be held at ‘Abbeystowe’ - an open field near the Abbey Museum of Art and Archaeology, at 1-63 The Abbey Place, Caboolture.

The two-day spectacular brings history to life with authentic re-enactments, crafts, music, food and more – perfect for history lovers and those wishing to experience what life was like many centuries ago.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Moreton Bay Medieval Joust Championship, which is sponsored by the Moreton Bay Regional Council.

The tournament is co-ordinated by homegrown professional jouster Luke Binks, who has competed all over the world including Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Russia and America.

Jousting fans will be treated to a historically accurate tournament just like knights before him would have taken part in.

“I run a representation of the mid-15th century joust where all the competitors are in historically accurate replica suits of armour and jousting in a way that was done historically back then,” Luke says.

“A lot of jousting competitions that are held today have a fence, known as a tilt, which runs down the middle separating the two competitors, preventing you from running into one another, as well as a fence on the outer side of the rider.

“The outer fence isn’t historically accurate and is likened to putting the bumpers on when you are bowling.

“By only having only the one fence down the middle to separate the riders, it makes things more difficult for the knights, but much more entertaining for the crowds.”

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, jousting is a competitive sport between armoured riders on horses who use a large wooden lance to charge each other at high
speed in an attempt to knock the other person off.

During the competition, Luke says points are awarded to the jouster with the most impressive lance break.

“The objective of jousting is to break your lance on your opponent while riding at them as hard and as fast as you can. The acute angle attack of the lance against
their body will make it grab and snap,” Luke says.

“You also need to limit the amount of openings where your opponent can go to break their lance. 

“The better the break, the more points you will score. If you knock the rider off, you win the match immediately.” 

Following a successful tournament last year, Luke is once again hoping to wow the crowds.

“The Abbey Medieval Festival is one of my favourite events of the year. A lot of hard work goes into the jousting tournament, but it’s worth it when you have 5000 people cheering and screaming as you do something that is pretty epic and unusual,” Luke says.

“This year, there will be a new knight who has never jousted at the Abbey Medieval Festival before to cheer on. He has been training with our local group for four years now and this will be his opportunity to try his hand and see if he can make it against some of Australia’s best knights. 

“Last year the crowds were really electric, so we hope this year the crowds will be bigger, better, brighter and of course louder.” 

If you would like to cheer for Luke, you will be able to identify him by his trademark black and yellow shield.

Relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

A life-long passion for history

Since he was a young boy, Luke has loved all things medieval, especially knights.

“My initial attraction was that I thought they were like real-life superheroes,” Luke says.

“The first time I ever saw jousting was in the movie Ivanhoe - people were on horseback with lances and I thought it was the coolest thing.”

Luke would play with knight LEGO, make wooden swords and even joust from his bicycle. 

Then as a teenager, he joined a local re-enactment group where he would “study historical fight manuals and recreate medieval combat”. 

When the movie A Knight’s Tale came to screens, it prompted Luke to buy his own horse and learn the art of jousting. 

Throughout his career, he has jousted all over the world, and was the first Australian to joust at the prestigious Sword of Honour tournament held at the Royal Armouries of England. 

When he's not competing or training, Luke runs his own armoury business in Petrie called Red Hart Reproductions, where he specialises in making bespoke suits of armour for museums, collectors and re-enactors from all over the world. 

Relive the Middle Ages at Abbey Medieval Festival

Your guide to family fun 

From cheering on the knights at the joust to watching a live castle siege re-enactment, the Abbey Medieval Festival is the perfect place to experience what life was like in the Middle Ages.

With a bumper program full of family friendly events, there will be plenty to see, do and experience on July 8 and 9.

Abbey Medieval Festival Marketing Manager Kellee Neville says everyone who attends the festival will be in for a treat.

“There’s nowhere else in Queensland where you can see cannons fire, knights in armour, a professional jousting tournament, and over 40 encampments with re-enactors presenting life in the middle ages all in the one place, with so many activities and demonstrations to capture the interest of visitors of all ages.”

Dressing up in your best medieval costume or outfit is also encouraged so you can fully immerse yourself in the medieval experience. 

Here are some of the highlights for families to enjoy at this year’s event. 

Kids’ Kingdom

The Kids’ Kingdom is a zone where kids can let their creativity shine. There will be arts and crafts, medieval games, puppet shows and more. Families can also take
aim on the archery field with the opportunity to fire a bow and arrow.

Re-enactors

Medieval re-enactors at the Abbey Medieval Festival display combat, arts, crafts, and skills from 1000 years of history. These include making siege weaponry, armour, displays of swordsmanship, chivalry, jousting, costuming, weaving, pottery, illumination and music.

Dancing

Wandering the grounds of Abbeystowe, you might be drawn to the sound of music in an encampment or one of the performance areas where re-enactors will be demonstrating all manner of medieval dance. Lucky for you, there will also be plenty of opportunities for families to watch or join in.

Crafts

There will be numerous demonstrations and workshops for people to take part in over the course of the weekend. A visit to a re-enactor’s encampment will allow you to see them in action. Also, in the markets area there will be plenty of demonstrators making and selling their wares.

Markets

If you are looking to take something unique home to remember your time at the Abbey Medieval Festival, a visit to the markets is a must, with traders selling everything from costumes to jewellery, candles and more.

Viking Mead Tavern

A second tavern will feature at this year's festival - a Viking Mead Tavern called Heorot Hall - to support the popularity of the Stag Inn and provide another location for delicious beverages and entertainment.

The Abbey Medieval Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live in Queensland events calendar.

Secure your tickets

Tickets for this year's Abbey Medieval Festival are on sale now.

Head to the Abbey Medieval Festival website

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