From Australia’s most remote horseraces, to camel pies, 4WD convoys, travelling boxing troupes and an influx of thousands to a town that usually homes 115 people – outback Queensland is set to play host to an Aussie bucket-list experience like no other when the 135th Birdsville Races return this September 1 & 2, 2017.
“The Birdsville Races offer up a unique slice of Australian culture and experience that you really can’t find anywhere else in Australia or the world,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.
“Birdsville is remote and that’s what makes the event so special – seeing the horses kick up the red desert dust and the coloured silks of the jockeys as they thunder around the track is truly spectacular.”
Taking place on the striking red terrain of the Simpson Desert, the historic Birdsville Races bring more than 7,000 racegoers of all ages to the Aussie bush for a two-day, 13-race program, as well as a jam-packed schedule of outback entertainment and activities.
Proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland’s It’s Live! in Queensland major events calendar, the Races see many visitors flock to Outback Queensland from the beginning of August – setting up camp early to enjoy the region’s yabby races, street parties and various other events that lead into the big Friday and Saturday race days.
Throughout the event, wide open cornflower blue skies and parched red terrain dotted with unique outback flora combine to create a stunning backdrop for the race competition, while Birdsville transforms into a buzzing hive of activity with film and comedy nights, live music, cocktail parties and Fred Brophy’s famous travelling boxing troupe.
“The Birdsville Races is so much more than a race meet; it’s a destination carnival and celebration of the outback that offers something different for everyone – in a completely unique environment,” added Gary Brook.
“Where else in the world would you find thoroughbred horseracing, gourmet food, music, comedy, film, fashion, boxing, tent cities, charity fun runs and true-blue Aussie pubs and bakeries?
“And all in one place, more than 1,100 kilometres from any major metropolitan town of city centre? It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.”
As in previous years, outback fare will be a major element of the 2017 Races, with the Birdsville Bakery serving up its famous selection of curried camel and kangaroo and claret pies. Trackside, food trucks and gourmet dining vendors will deliver an international flavour to the quintessentially Australian event.
The legendary Birdsville Hotel will once again act as the resident watering hole for racegoers wanting to kick celebrations into the night, while Fashions on the Field will bring colour, character and couture to race days across six categories for men, women, families and novelty dress.
“Every year, Fashion on the Fields brings some really interesting outfits out of the woodworks – you’ll always see Akubras, fascinators and sun hats, but you’ll get your fair share of surprises as well. And with thousands of dollars in prizes up for grabs, many racegoers take it very seriously and pull out all of the stops,” said Gary Brook.
The 2017 Birdsville Races will continue its proud support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, hosting a 6.1 kilometre fun run to help fundraise for the vital service in their remote region.
The Birdsville Races organising committee comprises a network of current and former residents of Birdsville, all keen to share the magic of the outback races – keeping the event alive and in the psyche of Australian punters.
Each year, horses and trainers make the long haul trek to Birdsville, 10,000 kilometres collectively, from places as far away as Darwin, Tamworth and the Sunshine Coast. Upon arrival, they set up camp under gum trees alongside the Diamantina River – creating their own community that has become as tight knit as the long-term residents of the rural township itself.
In 2016, the event achieved 121 acceptances to the race-field. History was made when Perth-based jockey Kayla Cross rode to victory on the Heather Lehmann-trained Moore Alpha – the first time an all-female jockey-trainer duo had won the Birdsville Cup in 134 years.