Every year since 1882, the Melbourne Cup of the desert comes to Birdsville bringing together racegoers from all over Australia to experience bush racing at its best.
A ‘must do’ on the outback social calendar, the Birdsville Races on the first weekend of September sees population numbers swell from 110 to more than 7,000 as punters enjoy a full 13 race program with more than $200,000 prize money on offer.
The highlight, of course, is the 1600 metre Birdsville Cup: a much sought after trophy and acclaimed throughout the world.
But the Birdsville Races isn’t just about the horses. Enthusiastic visitors contribute to a vibrant carnival atmosphere and would-be fashionistas, colourfully dressed to the nines in what is aptly described as Melbourne Cup cast offs, stand out in a sea of check shirts, moleskin trousers and Akubras.
While racing diehards do battle with the bookies, others will check out or even participate in events such as the boisterous race Calcutta, whip cracking demonstrations and the ever popular Fred Brophy’s famous boxing troupe challenge held in a tent directly opposite the pub.
This extraordinary weekend has people arriving in all modes of transport and camping out wherever they can find a patch of ground. It’s quite a spectacle to see upwards of more than 200 planes lined up along the airstrip with tents pitched under the wings. Others generally set up camp along the Diamantina River which is perfectly positioned between the racetrack and the pub.
For more information, visit the Birdsville Races website.
Images courtesy Salty Dingo Media.