Event organisers say they are working to overcome the Covid hurdles that forced the cancellation of the 2020 Birdsville Races. Today they confirmed that they are hopeful of releasing tickets for the 2021 Birdsville Races as usual in May this year.
The two-day spectacular of outback thoroughbred racing – synonymous with plumes of striking red dust as horses thunder down the Simpson Desert track – is set to run on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th September 2021.
The Birdsville Races, known as the Melbourne Cup of the outback, has been held since 1882 and have only ever been cancelled twice in the history of the event. In 2007 due to equine influenza, and in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re eight months out from the races so time is on our side. We appreciate that Birdsville is a trip punters need to plan for – so we’re aiming for a May release of tickets. After 2020’s cancellation we had hoped to go on sale much earlier, but things continue to change with Covid so we are proceeding with caution. We want to give ourselves and travellers the best chance for certainty when we release tickets. May is the month that we usually put tickets on sale, and at this stage, we’re hopeful we can stay the course,” said Birdsville Race Club Vice President, Gary Brook.
The Birdsville Race Club is working with relevant government agencies and Racing Queensland and will continue developing its plans for a Covid safe event.
“It’s exciting to hear how much interest there is in coming to the event this year, we’re anticipating we will be at capacity. With overseas travel looking unlikely, exploring our country holds even greater appeal. And there’s really no better way to experience the outback than a road trip to Birdsville, and the Races add a really special, quintessentially Australian experience,” said Gary Brook.
To ensure the Races are Covid-safe, for the first time in the events 139 year history tickets will not be available at the track gate – with all tickets required to be pre-purchased online prior to ensure entry. Further the number of trackside racegoers will be capped. Race organisers are finalising capacity requirements but the implications of Covid will mean the attendees will need to purchase early to guarantee entry.
“We obviously need to be very careful this year to ensure we can deliver a Covid safe event. We have space on our site and we’re predominantly an outdoor event. Those two factors alone are a huge advantage in helping us keep racegoers safe and able to social distance at the event – however, given the interest in attending we do have to put a cap on numbers. We encourage everyone to follow the Birdsville Races Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and both birdsvilleraces.com and birdsvilleracesroadies.com for ongoing updates and announcements around ticketing and other elements of the event including how to become a part of the Birdsville Races Roadies,” added Gary Brook.
With so many businesses reliant on tourism – and after years of tough times as a result of drought – the whole region is betting on a bigger and better than ever return for the Birdsville Races in 2021.
The bucket-list Birdsville Races typically attract more than 7,000 annual visitors to Outback Queensland to enjoy the region’s yabby races, street parties and various other events that lead into the big Friday and Saturday race days at the iconic Birdsville race track.
Throughout the weekend of the Birdsville Races, wide-open blue skies and parched red terrain create a stunning backdrop for the event’s two days, 13-race program.
The iconic township of Birdsville, with a general population of just 115, plays host to the renowned race carnival, with those who make the pilgrimage to Australia’s most remote town treated to a jam-packed weekend of thoroughbred racing and unique outback entertainment including an outdoor cinema screenings, live music and Fred Brophy’s famous travelling boxing troupe.
The Birdsville Bakery will be open again and the legendary Birdsville Hotel will once again act as the resident watering hole for racegoers wanting to kick celebrations into the night, while Fashions on the Field will bring colour, character and couture to race days across six categories for men, women, families and novelty dress.
The Races will also continue its proud support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 2021, hosting a 6-kilometre fun run to help fundraise for the vital service in the remote region.
The Birdsville Race’s organising committee comprises a network of current and former residents of Birdsville, all keen to share the magic of the outback races – keeping the event alive and in the psyche of Australian punters.
Each year, horses and trainers make the long haul trek to Birdsville, from places as far away as Darwin, Tamworth and the Sunshine Coast. Upon arrival, they set up camp under gum trees alongside the Diamantina River – creating their own community that has become as tight-knit as the long-term residents of the Simpson Desert township itself.
What: Birdsville Races
Where: Birdsville, Queensland
When: Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th September 2021
For more information on the Birdsville Races Roadies go to www.birdsvilleracesroadies.com
Travel packages to the event are available via preferred travel partner Sportnet Travel at https://sportsnetholidays.com/events/horse-racing/birdsville-races-2021/
Words: Cardinal Spin. Images: Birdsville Race’s website.