The Burdekin Water Festival is one of the longest running festivals in Queensland. It was the dream of William Morley (Bob) Saxby Snr who had been to Toowoomba and had experienced the Carnival of Flowers in 1957. Upon his return to Ayr, he approached the Shire Chairman at the time to discuss what the Burdekin could do to promote its underground water supply.
A public meeting was called in late 1957, and from that meeting the Burdekin Water Festival was formed, with the first festival being held on 6th September 1958.
In 1958, three young ladies competed for the title of Water Festival Queen, with the winner being the Water Festival Personality Queen. In 1963, the organisers decided to include a junior section, the Water Festival Princess. Then in 1974, the Water Festival Charity Queen title was created to reward entrants for their fundraising efforts.
In the 1990's the committee changed the titles to "Ambassadors" and "Young Ambassadors" to allow young men to enter the quest.
In 2008 the Burdekin Water Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary. The festival has developed over the years and now highlights the abundant water supply, unique lifestyle, produce and culture in the region. Each year, a dedicated band of committed and community-minded people voluntarily organise a wide range of exciting events and competitions, including the Tastes of the Burdekin, Pet Show, Art Show and Gala Ball, that attract visitors from all over the region.
In 2010, Celebrity Chef Alastair McLeod visited the Burdekin, including an appearance at the Tastes of the Burdekin, and filmed a segment for the first episode of his "Off the Eaten Track" television series. The five-minute segment can be viewed here.