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Outback Races On Track

Teenage Jockey Wins The 2018 Birdsville Cup
Birdsville Cup day. Birdsville Races 2018 © Photo by Salty Dingo 2018

Two of Australia’s most iconic outback sporting events have announced that they are back on for 2021 after both being called off last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both the Birdsville Races, often referred to as the Melbourne Cup of the Outback, and the Boulia Camel Cup, an outback camel race as famous for its celebrations as it is for its racing, are back on the sporting calendar and ready to erase the disappointments of the past 12 months with some high-spirited, uniquely Australian outback fun.

The two-day spectacular of outback thoroughbred racing, which is held in the Simpson Desert, is set to run on Friday and Saturday September 3rd and 4th.

The Birdsville races have been held in the tiny outback town of Birdsville – population 140 on a busy day – since 1882. It’s meagre population swells to more than 6500 people for the annual races. Before last year, the races had only ever been cancelled once before, in 2007 because of an outbreak of equine flu that endangered Australia’s horse populations.

Makybe Diva won three cups on the trot
Birdsville races is like the Melbourne Cup of the bush: Here Makybe Diva wins three Melbourne Cups on the trot

But, says Birdsville Race Club Vice President Gary Brook, organisers have plenty of time up their sleeve to make sure that the 2021 event is both safe and successful despite the on-going pandemic.

Australia, he says, is one of the luckiest countries in the world in terms of COVID infections because at present there are just 10 people currently being treated for the disease in the entire country.

“We appreciate that Birdsville is a trip that punters need to plan for – so we’re aiming for a May release of tickets,” Mr Brook says.

Written by Michael Sheather

Michael Sheather has extensive experience in magazine journalism having fulfilled the roles of both associate editor and news editor at The Australian Women's Weekly during the past 21 years. At the same time Michael has crafted an impressive reputuation as a reporter and writer, winning multiple awards including five Journalist of the Year awards, two Story the year awards as well as being a regular finalist or runner-up in both categories. He has reported for The Weekly from the US, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Europe, New Zealand and India and has an extraordinary list of interviewees including Thredbo survivor Stuart Diver, Prime Ministers John Howard, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam, actresses Kim Bassinger, Nicole Kidman and actor Michael J Fox, among many others.

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