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Published: July 17th 2021
Roll out on the Friday morning was even more organised than the roll in. For safety reasons no-one was allowed to leave camp before 7am. At 2minutes past there was a steady stream heading out. Once again they had volunteer marshals at the end of each road, allowing 15 vehicles at a time to join the exiting convoy. We could not believe how quickly we were able to join in – no sooner had we got in the car and started the engine that a van indicated for us to pull out of our campsite in front of him just as it was time again for those in Burke & Wills Way to move on out. Everyone was well behaved, leaving a good space between each vehicle – although we have heard since that some folk had a good 2 ½ - 3hr wait (tempers may have been frayed at that point!).
Our plan was to leave Birdsville straight away – we had plenty of fuel so there was no need to stop and just continued on back to Bedourie. There was a steady stream of vans doing the same thing, but again it was very orderly and
safe – which was definitely needed particularly along the gravel sections. Everyone maintained a good 150m distance and with no wind blowing the dust just hung in the air so that at times we could barely see 50m in front of us. There was a lot of UHF conversations to alert drivers to oncoming traffic.
Arriving back in Bedourie we camped once more at the Oasis campground. It was heaving because, like us, there were plenty of people planning on going to the Bedourie Camel and Pig Races on the Saturday.
What a hoot that was! A real family fun day with not just the races but a camp oven cook off, foot races and a wood chop competition. We felt sorry for the would be axemen and women as the wood they had to chop was Gidgee wood – hard as steel. As their axe heads truck the timber we could hear the ring and they barely made an impression. One poor chap took over 15 minutes to cut through his log and as it finally broke in two there was a rousing cheer from the crowd.
A lot of
people gathered at the side of the race track for the camel races so we couldn’t get the clearest of views. We had a little flutter with one of the bookies, but our $10 bet was lost as “Brother Dan” came second. He at least ran in the right direction, which could not be said for all the camels.
No better luck with the pig race. We bought raffle tickets in the hope of securing “race ownership” of one of the 8 scrub piglets but despite not having a winning ticket we had quite a laugh as these little feral squealers negotiated the maze run. The prize for their efforts was a bowl of milk. As well as the raffle tickets there was a pseudo auction to “buy” a pig. People placed their bids in quite a frenzied fashion with some paying up to $450 and more. The pool of money was split at the end of each race – there were 3 in total – with the “owner” of the winning pig taking half and the remaining proceeds going to the local community. The lucky lady from our race took home $1500 having paid $300. We
could not believe the money that was handed over. Unfortunately I can't post videos onto the Blog - but take it from me, it was the most entertaining thing we have seen......a real hoot!
The biggest laugh on the day though was the ambulance driver that followed the camels. With one hand on the steering wheel, his window down and his right arm hanging out he “whipped” his steed urging it to go faster, but as the entertaining MC cried out “sorry mate, you keep coming last every year!”.
Throughout our journey from Winton to Birdsville and back again to Bedourie we saw quite a few small mobs of cattle roaming the mainly unfenced properties. They look to be in very good condition but we are blowed as to what keeps them fed and nourished in such a harsh country.
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