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Club Spotlight: Burrandowan

Burrandowan-Picnic-19-Web.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

When it comes to running the Burrandowan Picnic Race Club, it is all about family.

It is not just the one family that has kept the little Queensland racing track going over the decades, but several, who go back generations in the racing industry.

The Club only race once a year at the non-TAB Burrandowan track and when they do - being this coming Saturday for 2021 - punters come from around the state for the popular event.

While it is families who run the Club itself, the annual raceday is an occasion to bring people back to the area who have since moved away, to catch up with old friends and extended families.

Current president Cameron Redman and secretary Trish Christie are just two examples of the passionate racing families around the Burrandowan races that keeps the traditions alive.

Christie lives on a property around one kilometre from the track itself and was born into racing, her parents owning horses with Wondai-based trainers over the years.

“My father is on the committee and he is 75, there is no choice for me really,” Christie said with a smile.

“My girls are 18 and 19 and they are very much involved in everything as well, they get dragged home from their university studies to do jobs for me at the racetrack – that is just how the community is here.

“We are fortunate to a have local racing families as well and we usually have a local horse in at the races, which everyone loves.”

While Christie, who is in her 50s, has been a driving force behind the Club for decades, she is pleased to see new blood come through on the committee, like Redman.

The secretary says the next generation of people, like Redman, whose grandparents and parents were both involved, will keep the Club going into the future.

“You get born into a job like this out here because there is not enough of us to be cherry picking the people,” Redman said.

“You are all of a sudden apart of the race club once you are home from school or university, or what not.

“The whole community is straight into.”

Burrandowan-Picnic-23-Web.JPGTo have the popular raceday to showcase the Club is worth all the hard work, Redman thinks.

“There are a few people in the committee who have moved here, but most of us are multi-generational being involved with racing and the Club,” he said.

“We keep it going because the families have always done it and it is great to have the race day out here every year.”

According to Christie, the Burrandowan racetrack is the hub of the district.

Situated around three hours from Brisbane, heading north-west through Kilcoy, the race club’s facilities also host camp drafting and several other horse events.

Burrandowan-Picnic-22-Web.jpgBurrandowan itself is not a town, but a local station and property, which is surrounded by cattle stations.  

“It is literally just a racetrack,” Christie said.

Like many of the once a year clubs in Queensland, Burrandowan went without racing in 2020, and the Club itself and the local community cannot wait to get back this week.

According to Redman, Burrandowan has raced every year since World War 2, before they were forced to put the brakes on last year’s race day.

They are also nearing a special milestone.

This Saturday’s races will be the 99th edition of the races, as they celebrate 100 years in 2022.

Christie says life members, former residents from around the area who have moved away, among others, have already flagged their intent to be on course come 2022 to celebrate the historic milestone.

“It is a social event that a lot of people in the immediate area and the surrounding areas look forward too,” Christie said of the annual races.

“We also have a lot of caravaners and campers as well, so a lot of people missed out last year.

“There has been a bit of a younger following now, which is great to see for regional racing, as our club has usually been a mixed crowd of older people and families - it is great to see a few young people coming through.”

The committee have been busy over the last month to get the track up to scratch for racing on the dirt, with Redman explaining water was tough to come by in the area and that they battle for quality grass covering, at times.

One of the quirks of the annual races at Burrandowan is that there is no mobile phone reception at the track.

Tom Moloney, who also doubles as the vice-president for the Club, is one of the only licensed trainers in the area around Burrandowan, usually having a horse or two in work.

Come race day this Saturday, stables from Dalby, Chinchilla, Miles, Gympie, among other areas, are expected to descend for the five non-TAB races.

The Club has received sizeable nominations for Saturday, with 66 in total across the five races.

Included in the five races is a qualifier for the 2021 TAB Battle of the Bush Series and a race apart of the Coast to Country series.Burrandowan-Picnic-09-Web.jpg

Everyone involved is excited to host a BOTB qualifying heat this week, with the series culminating in the $200,000 Final on Tattersall’s Tiara Raceday at Eagle Farm on Saturday, June 26. 

Kicking off at Quilpie last weekend, the Battle of the Bush again features 16 qualifiers (two per country region) across the state.

Club spotlight will be a regular feature that shines a light on the unique and individual racing clubs across Queensland.