The Race to Birdsville

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The Race to Birdsville

Instead of stewed goat, it was a big serve of my curried sausages that I make at the start of most of my 4WD trips. The plan with this tucker is to add lots of everything and plenty of curry to drown (I meant complement) the taste. The bonus of a meal like this early in the trip is it sorts the men from the boys real fast and let’s you quickly know if you’ve packed enough toilet paper rations.

With the windows all wound down, the next day it was off to Thargomindah to catch up with Jason from the Oasis Hotel. This would be the perfect stop to catch up on some much needed sleep and have a go at the best steaks in Australia. Yep, big call I know, but wait until you try one of these slow-cooked monsters for yourself. A steak the size of a toilet seat and a big plate of potatoes and veg was just the Outback meal that we needed to refuel and continue to Birdsville.

That night we learnt that Windorah was having its annual yabby races, which just so happened to fall on the night that we were planning on stopping in Windorah. With the yabby races the next stop, we got talking about yabby races and Jason told us that all of the local creeks were fishing for yabbies.

With the hope that we could enter our own Thargomindah thoroughbreds, Jason put a couple of pots in and it wasn’t long before we had a stack of yabbies. With four of the best-looking specimens in a bucket half-filled with creek water, we all piled into the HiLux (yabbies and all) and made our way to Windorah.

The road from Quilpie to Windorah is mostly a single lane of tar road. As the road is very narrow, it’s important that you back your speed right off when you see an oncoming vehicle because you’ll both need to straddle the dirt to get past. When you see an oncoming road train, it’s best to pull right off the road and give the trucks right of way. That way you’ll get fewer chips in your windscreen, plus you’re never going to win a game of chicken with a truck and three trailers loaded full of cattle.

The Windorah Yabby Races is a top event where a couple of hundred people gather around a circle painted on the road to watch yabbies race over the line. Yep, Aussies will bet on almost anything, and the good news was that money raised from the races went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This turned out to be a great night and something we didn’t plan on attending, but would be back next year in a heartbeat should we head to the races next time.

One of the great things about heading to the Outback, and especially events like this, is that everybody is made to feel welcome, local or not. The day after the yabby races we were a little slow to crawl out of our swags. You see, Pete really got into the celebrations of the yabby races and did his bit to deplete QLD’s XXXX stock and harass the British barmaids.

After the late start, we joined the other thousands of 4WDs heading west to Birdsville along the Developmental Road. Like the majority of the tracks that we’d travelled on so far, there was water all over the road, plus muddy ruts and lakes where I had never seen lakes before. After a couple of muddy water crossings where we had to get out and lock the hubs, we made it into Birdsville to claim our site in the caravan park, (which was nearly full,) and go for a walk to check out Birdsville like you’ve never seen it before.

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