THE 2017 Birdsville Races will hit outback Queensland’s Simpson Desert on September 1 and 2.
Located 1590km west of Brisbane (1940km from Sydney and 1193km from Adelaide), the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’ provides the perfect opportunity to dust off the 4x4 for a quintessential Aussie outback experience.
The two-day event marks the 135th anniversary of the races, with the first held in September 1882 – remarkably, the event has only been cancelled twice since.
“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 of the 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.”
Birdsville, a town of just 115 locals, swells to between 6000 and 7000 people, all eager to attend the race, sit on the steps of the legendary Birdsville Hotel, try a camel pie at the Birdsville Bakery, and off-road to Big Red, Diamantina River, the Waddi Trees and the Burke & Wills campsite.
In addition to the races, visitors will be spoilt with film and comedy nights, live music, cocktail nights, yabby races, street 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 1100km from any major metropolitan town of city centre? It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.”
Fashions on the Field is an integral part of the Birdsville Races, with attendees donning their best (or most outrageous) outfits throughout the two days.
“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.
A 6.1km fun run supporting the Royal Flying Doctor Service will also be run and won.
There are buses and limited flights in and out of Birdsville, but the best way to get there is in a trusty 4x4. Accommodation is available at the Birdsville Caravan Park or at Tent City (specifically set up during the event).
Two-day racing passes start from $60, while trackside hospitality options are available. For tickets, head to: www.birdsvilleraces.com.