Buffed Blundstones, oft-tipped Akubras and the portable shade of parasols, outback races bring floods of people to towns such as Birdsville, Broome and Broken Hill. Little Louth in far-west New South Wales grows spectacularly from a population of 100 to more than 4000 when the races are on, and last year’s meet raised more than $20,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. At Broome races, held on the red pindan soil the area is famous for, internationals mix with locals of all walks in a country picnic atmosphere – it’s a thrilling experience. But the Big Kahuna of outback racing is the Birdsville Races, and they take place on the first Saturday of every September in this tiny outback town. Getting there (Birdsville is 700 kilometres south-west of Longreach, at the border of South Australia and Queensland) really is half the fun; Channel Country is pure outback. And, of course, the races themselves are a total blast, with over 6000 people flocking to the town for the weekend and some 80,000 stubbies knocked back – that’s a lot of beer. Says Craig Tansley, “Even if you’ve lived here all your life, you can’t say you’ve experienced Australia ’til you’ve been to the outback during horse-race time.” We’re inclined to agree.
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