VISITORS heading towards Boulia for the annual camel races — to be held from July 14 to 16, 2017 — should not only expect mystery, adventure and some unexpected thrills, because while traversing the vast Outback of Queensland, they can expect the exotic.
From the isolated stretches of roads towards Boulia, travellers continue to report thrilling sightings of the legendary and somewhat chilling ‘Min Min Light’ — perhaps they see this unique spectre as a right of passage.
The adventure that is a journey to Boulia’s Camel Races no doubt reaches its peak for travellers when they first see the camels hurtling down the racetrack, followed by plumes of red dust. It’s this vast racetrack, all 1,500 metres of it, that has earned these races the title ‘the Melbourne Cup of Camel Races’, being the longest camel race in Australia.
The most adventurous travellers may gain a mouthful of Boulia’s red dust, if they fearlessly enter in the hilarious trackside fun of the ‘camel tagging’ competition. Camel tagging sees competitors entering an arena with some of the younger and livelier camels, and the object is to get close enough to stick a piece of duct tape onto one of them. The challenge is timed and requires competitors to return to the starting position, and then retrieve their duct tape from the camel before the clock is stopped. Organisers say it’s hard to say who has the more laughs, the competitors in the arena, or the crowd gathered to cheer them on.
Boulia’s Camel Races are firmly on the itinerary for Outback travellers in 2017, with increasing numbers of visitors planning a Simpson Desert adventure around its iconic events. With Birdsville’s Big Red Bash attracting crowds to the remotest parts of Queensland in early July, visitors are taking advantage of the opportunity to continue north for Boulia’s iconic Camel Races the following week.
According to Boulia’s Tourism Officer, Shelley Norton, the July 4 to 6 timing of The Big Red Bash couldn’t be better for the Western Queensland Camel Racing Circuit. Kicking off with the Bedourie Camel Races on July 8, Boulia’s ‘Melbourne Cup of Camel Races’ follows on July 14 to 16, and the circuit winds-up in Winton where their Camel Races are held on July 22.
The racing circuit draws thousands of travellers to witness magnificent sights of the lumbering camels, racing through plumes of red dust to the finish line. Yet the distinct local flavour and larrikin trackside events see visitors attending more than just one of the events and following the camel racing circuit north.
“The camping offered at all the camel races is really affordable, and the feedback from visitors suggest that’s what is really appealing to them as they make their 2017 travel plans,” Shelley Norton said. “The word is really out there now, and many travellers seem to have it on their bucket-list to get to our Boulia Camel Races.”
Throw-in a live band, children’s entertainment, fireworks and yabbie races, and the Boulia Camel Races makes for an exciting three-day Outback family adventure.
Boulia sits south of Mt Isa, west of Winton and deep in Queensland’s spectacular Channel Country. The town’s ‘red stump’ reminds visitors that should they venture any further, they will be entering the very Simpson Desert.
The town’s 230 residents know that the annual Camel Races herald its peak tourism season and a vital opportunity for community groups to fund-raise as they cater for the influx of visitors. The welcome they extend is warm and long-lasting, with travellers invited to stay up to as many as 13 days at the racecourse’s onsite camping.