Fashions on the field won’t be the only flashes of colour come September 2 & 3 when the Birdsville Races kick off in outback Queensland.
This year, the thousands who flock to the region for the iconic races will be treated to a colourful spectacle beyond the race track, with the parched red earth of the surrounding Simpson Desert alive with a vast array of beautiful desert flowers.
With rains in the region in the lead in to the event, locals have billed natures flower show this year as the best in 20 years.
“It looks beautiful. There’s so much for visitors to see and do when they come to town for the races, and heading out to see the desert and dunes covered in desert wild flowers is high on the list of must do’s,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.
Varieties of desert wild flowers include the needlebush with creamy flowers, the ‘wattle of the desert’ the Acacia victoriae with a beautiful show of pale yellow flowers, the Sandhill spider flower or rattlepod, the parrot bush with yellow and green beaklike flowers and carpets of daisy as far as the eye can see.
The sides of dunes are also fluorescent with yellow and senecio daisies, with purple flashes from the parakeelya whose succulent leaves provided local Aboriginal’s with moisture. Billbuttons, poached egg daisy’s and bluebells also make up the striking array of desert flora.
The countries most remote horse race, the annual Birdsville Races, is set in the Simpson Desert in the small township of Birdsville – population 115.
More than 7,000 race goers will flock to the region to take in the hotly contested races.
“The races have been running for 134 years and this year is the best I can remember for the desert wild flowers,” added Gary Brooks.
The two-day event consists of a 13 race program, and has a prize pool of $200,000.
Fashion on the fields offers thousands of dollars in prizes and consists of six categories for men, women and families, and this year a novelty dress competition will be a feature of the Friday race day.
The Birdsville Races proudly support the Royal Flying Doctor Service and hosts a fun run to help fundraise for this vital service in their remote region.
Also on the agenda during race week is a gala Birdsville Races Cocktail Party, a screening of ‘Last Mail from Birdsville – The Story of Tom Kruse’, a huge auction, music by Paul Costa and X Factor’s Andrew Wishart, entertainment by boxing tent showman Fred Brophy, and an educational history of the Birdsville Races and tours of the historic town.
For foodies, there’ll be a variety of food truck vendors at the races, or the option of a luxury outback dining experience in the trackside marquee for those who have purchased a hospitality package.
Each year horses and trainers make the long haul trek to Birdsville, 10,000 kms collectively, where 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 2015 the event achieved a record 121 starters across the 13 race program.
What: Birdsville Races
Where: Birdsville, Queensland
When: Friday 2nd & Saturday 3rd September 2016
How much: Friday general entry $25, Saturday general entry $30
For $60 race goers can purchase a special limited edition medallion for $60 that gives entry both days plus discounted evening entertainment and souvenirs.