About This Drive
Set against the backdrop of the famed Simpson Desert, the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival gives the local community, punters, tourists, jockeys, owners and trainers alike the opportunity to come from near and far and celebrate country racing at its best. This 15 Day itinerary follows the thrills and spills of three Outback Racing events, the Betoota Races (last weekend in August), Birdsville Races (first weekend in September) and the Bedourie Races and Rodeo (second weekend in September).
Arrive in Bedourie early. Check in to the Bedourie Outback Visitors Centre and then check out the town’s sites. Wander around the historic Mud Hut, marvel at the street art sculpture, have a beer at the Bedourie Royal Hotel, or test your putting skills at the Bedourie Outback Golf Course. Next day revitalise your spirits with an early morning dip in the hot Artesian Spa then spend your day relaxing in preparation for a wild night of Outback action at the Bedourie Rodeo. The Bedourie Races and Rodeo are held on the second weekend in September. Rev up your engines early for the Bedourie Ute and Travellers Muster, which attracts competitors from all around the country keen to pay homage to the good ‘ol Aussie ute. But lets not exclude the RV’s and motorhomes, there’s even a prize for the entry furthest from home. It’s then down to the racecourse for the start of the Bedourie Races. Experience the first race break through the barriers with top betting facilities, food and refreshments and plenty of entrainment on hand. Don’t forget to wear pink and help ‘Dress the Desert Pink’ to raise money for Breast Cancer research.
Kick off your racing trifecta with the Betoota Races held on the last Saturday in August. Renowned as the race that brings a ghost town back to life, this country race meet prides itself on being family friendly. So grab your swag and join the fun of a six-race program with fashions on the field, food and refreshments. Come sundown there’s live entertainment and auction, then you can camp under the stars at the racetrack – there’s even hot showers! Betoota was a thriving town at the turn of the century as a post for collecting state taxes for goods travelling between states. Up until 1997 it had a population of one – the hotel owner. He closed the doors of the hotel in 1997 and it has been closed ever since. Betoota is located halfway between Windorah and Birdsville.
Betoota to Birdsville
En-route to Birdsville, enjoy the impressive Dreamtime Serpent sculpture west of Betoota, and magnificent views at Deon’s Lookout. In Birdsville try a famous Birdsville Bakery Curried Camel Pie, and visit the Wirrarri Visitor Centre for all the latest racing information, race tickets and official souvenirs, or browse the artworks. Three days of jam-packed fun includes the buskers at the market stalls, screening of the ‘Back of Beyond’ at the Shire Hall, the Birdsville Hotel’s Equine Fun Day or the world famous Fred Brophy’s Boxing Troupe. The Birdsville Races are on the first weekend in September. Start Saturday morning with Race Calcuttas, wine and spirit tastings at the Birdsville Hotel. At the racetrack, enjoy the quality Outback racing, Fashions on the Field and trackside marquee packages. When dust finally settles, return to the Birdsville Hotel to ponder your winnings (or losses) over a beer or two. A late morning races ‘recovery’ breakfast is held on Sunday at the Birdsville Hotel. Then relax and enjoy a picnic lunch at the Old Diamantina Crossing with time later to explore the region – hire a canoe and go fishing by the Jardine Waterhole or take the Four Wheel Drive and try conquering Big Red.
Birdsville to Bedourie
Meander along the Bilby Way from Birdsville to Bedourie which winds its way past some of the region’s most extraordinary sites. Stop overnight at Carcoory Ruins, a National Trust landmark once owned by Sidney Kidman. Or pitch your tent at Cuttaburra Crossing and get up close to the amazing array of birdlife that inhabits this permanent waterhole and renowned wetland on Eyre Creek.
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