The induction of the Battle of The Bush series to the Queensland Racing calendar has not only been of interest for trainers and owners but has also seen large numbers of punters flocking to the famous country race tracks.
Queensland racing is unique in that many of the participants ply their trade at Non-TAB race meetings. There were 267 Non-TAB race meeting last season in Queensland which makes up 38% of all meetings, which is a large percentage when compared to other states (NSW – 15% & VIC – 7%).
With large numbers starting to roll through the turnstiles in country and regional Queensland we thought it was a good idea to offer some tricks and tips when attending our famous country race meetings.
The further west you head the more dirt and sand there is – and the redder it becomes. When thinking about what to wear to the races, keep in mind the chances of your outfit getting dirty, especially if you intend on participating in any events or hitting the dance floor after the races are finished.
The Birdsville Track Is In The Corner of Queensland closest to the Simpson Desert!
It's Not All About The Racing
For many outback towns, the local racetrack will only host one race meeting a year so they want to squeeze as much in to the day as possible. Some side events include running races, fashions on the field, and even pulling up a truck with a band on the back and rocking out to midnight! Some race meetings don’t even have horses (see Boulia Camel Races).
The Boulia Camel Races - image from the Boulia Camel Races Facebook Page
It's All About The Racing
For many country trainers and owners these outback race meetings are their bread and butter. Travelling extreme distances in trying conditions is what they are used to and they rely on these meetings to make money for their stables and owners who invest in them.
Stabled Runners at the Chinchilla Races - Photo courtesy The Inside World
doing the form can be tricky
With horses coming from all over the state for a particular race meeting, it can be difficult to line the form up when trying to pick a winner. Having a yarn to the right person can be a very savvy move to gain some extra info from those that have the knowledge. You may also see a large crowd gathered in the mounting yard as the way a horse parades in the yard can be crucial in the testing conditions.
Chinchilla Races Mounting Yard - Photo courtesy The Inside World
RECEPTION CAN BE LIMITED
For those coming from the bigger cities, it may come as a shock but phone reception in not available in all parts of the state at all times. It is not the end of the world however, there is plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Take all the selfies you need and update them to your choice of social media platform at another time and soak up the atmosphere. If you rely on your phone to place a bet, fear not, there are on course bookies willing to take your cash as well!
On Course Bookmaker at the Chinny Races - Photo courtesy The Inside World
BE PREPARED FOR A CHAT
One of the best things about country race meetings is the welcoming and friendly people that put on the show! The sense of community is strong as everyone in the local town bands together to put on the best day (and night) possible. So pull up a chair and have a chat or, sometimes, a simple tip of the hat is all that is needed to show your appreciation for the work that has been done to create the day.
Enjoy the Sense of Community - Photo courtesy The Narooma Races
Get Used To Swatting Away Flies
There are flies. Lots of flies. You may be envious of the locals who seem to swat them away like they aren’t even there. It has become second nature to them. Take a deep breath and try not to let it get to you. Or wear a hat with some corks on it and really get into the outback spirit!
The Weather Can Be Extreme
As a rule, the further west you go, the hotter it becomes. In the Winter it can be quite cold at night but once the sun is out, it will heat up. If you are heading to Far North Queensland, the weather can be unpredictable and extreme so it’s best to pack for all occasions. The Iconic Birdsville Races was even washed out in 2010 for the first time in its then-128 year history. Punters were left stranded after the Diamantina river flooded everybody in. It wasn’t the end of the world however as the Birdsville Hotel had plenty of beer!
Camooweal Jockey Club is as far west as you can get on a racetrack In Queensland!