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135th Birdsville Races is Australia’s favourite outback bucket-list experience – September 1 & 2, 2017
September 1, 2017 - September 2, 2017
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.
Tickets to the iconic thoroughbred racing carnival went on sale today through www.birdsvilleraces.com, with event organisers promising another exhilarating year of punting, celebration and top-notch racing competition at what many have billed the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback.’
A two-day racing pass starts at $60 and trackside hospitality options featuring a gourmet outback feast are available.
2017 is the first year the event has taken on a ticketing partner, following widespread demand for tickets from within Australia and abroad.
“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.
What: Birdsville Races
Where: Birdsville, Queensland
When: Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September 2017
How much: Starting from $60
More info: www.birdsvilleraces.com
Named after its abundant birdlife, the town of Birdsville is situated on the edge of the Simpson Desert in Far West Queensland. Birdsville is known as one of the most isolated towns in Australia.
European explorers first settled into the area in the 1870s, and the first race meeting was held a mere 12 years later. The town was settled as a toll point for stock crossing the Queensland/South Australian border with a population of 300 pre-federation, which dropped to 100 after federation. Birdsville now supports pastoralists, cattle and tourism.
The first Birdsville Races was held in September 1882. Since then, the Races have only been cancelled twice, and they’ve continued to grow in size.
In 2016, the Races were condensed into a ‘Super Sunday’ program, which combined 11 highlight races from the originally scheduled Friday and Saturday competitions. The 11-race program made for Australia’s biggest single thoroughbred race day this year, outstripping Melbourne Cup day.
The revised program followed 55mm of rainfall in Birdsville in the days preceding the race meet, which equated to more than a third of the town’s yearly rainfall average. The deluge turned Birdsville’s iconic red racetrack to sludge and forced the closure of all roads to and from the township.
In its 135th year, the event has earned an impressive reputation and worldwide recognition.
Population (before/during the race):
The town population stands at around 115 when no event is being held.
The population grows to between 6,000 and 7,000 during race time.
Birdsville is 1,590 kms west of Brisbane, 1,940kms from Sydney, and 1,193kms from Adelaide. It is located on land traditionally owned by the Wangkangurru Yarluyandi people, in the Channel Country of Far West Queensland, Australia – on the edge of the Simpson Desert.
Cattle farming has historically been the main industry for Birdsville, however in recent years tourism has grown to be one of the town’s primary sources of income.
How to get there:
Drive your own car or hire a 4WD for some sand dune fun.
There are buses that operate from capital cities for special occasions like the Birdsville Races, and there are limited flights in and out of Birdsville on REX Airlines, with additional flights added around race time.
Accommodation Options during race week:
- Birdsville Caravan Park
- Tent City (Set up only during race time!)
- Birdsville Bakery
- Home of the famous Camel Pie!
- The Birdsville Bakery serves up a selection of Aussie classics – with their menu listing everything from a bowl of Weetbix or baked beans on toast, to wattle seed custard tarts and a pie menu that includes curried camel and kangaroo and claret.
- The Birdsville Hotel
- A legendary hotel that has stood on the edge of the Simpson Desert for years. It is located next to the airstrip and offers accommodation (outside of race week), hearty meals and cold beers for a true blue Aussie outback experience.
- The Birdsville Track
- A famous 4WD track just outside of Birdsville.
- ‘Big Red’
- a 40-metre high sand dune on the edge of the Simpson desert that challenges locals and tourists alike to get to the top of it to watch a spectacular sunset.
- Diamantina River
- Great for a dip or a spot of fishing.
- Burke & Wills Camp site
- Marked by a party following in the footsteps by of the famous explorers. It is marked with a prominent blazed tree ‘C76 1860’.
- The Waddi Trees
- 6km to the north of Birdsville is the location of the largest patch of Waddi Trees (also known as Acacia Peuce), one of only three such spots in the world.