While I’m sure that at least a couple of my readers ( Jillaroo Jess and Outback Joe ) know about Birdsville somebody somewhere might be wondering where the heck the place is, and why I’m going there ….or then again, maybe not.
Pay attention, the geography lesson is about to start….
Birdsville is a tiny town way, way, way out west in Queensland, right down in the south west corner, on the edge of the Simpson Desert. It was originally a stopping point on the cattle droving track between Queensland and the southern markets, that evolved into the Birdsville Track, a once notoriously difficult and dangerous route across desert country that took many lives, last of whom were the Page family who tried to walk for help after their car broke down in the middle of summer.
The population is normally around 100, but on the weekend of the first Saturday in September it goes up to around 10,000 or more as people come from everywhere for the annual bush race meeting and the town turns into party central.
Yuppies fly here in their light planes, grey nomads bring their luxury motor homes, ringers turn up in their feral utes and roll out their swags in the scrub, and 4WDers bring their vehicles from all over the country.
The famous Birdsville Hotel is the first stop for most, to wash down the dust from all those hours of driving to get here. It’s strictly cans only for race weekend, and empties are just thrown on the floor, or out in the gutter if you are sitting on the pub verandah (which is a great spot to watch the sun set over the Simpson )
Another popular spot is from the top of “Big Red”, a 40m high dune about 35 kms from town, and an irresistible challenge for 4WDers. My ute is too heavy and too under powered so I only got up the “easy ” route. I left the highest, steepest route for the boys with the big toys, the turbo charged, power chipped , big 4WDs. Not all of them made it over either ! There is always a large crowd of spectators to give you cheers or jeers.
Of course, it’s always best to take on Big Red in the morning, and leave the drinking for the afternoon … the local cops bring in reinforcements for the weekend and you don’t want to get booked for DUI !
Fred Brophy sets up his touring boxing tent show opposite the pub for the weekend, the last touring boxing show going around, and it is always full, and never short of
mugs challengers to take on his fighters.
And believe it or not, but this tiny outback town has an award winning bakery, with specialities such as curried camel pie ..or just fancy cakes, latte and cappuccino for the not so adventurous palates.
So now you know where Birdsville is (if you were paying attention in class), and being here for the races has been on my bucket list for ages, now that’s another one to tick off.
Tomorrow’s post will be about the races, some more pics for now: