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For the average race-goer in Queensland, country race meets are the first event on the calendar. The countless hours of travel and blowing work on a Friday (and Monday, sometimes Tuesday) are simply minor sacrifices to enjoy the best weekends of the year. These country race meets are a must-go, getting bigger and better each and every time.

Birdsville Races

Source: birdsvilleraces.com

Arguably Queensland’s premier country race meet, Birdsville races comes around each September for a big 2 days of racing, headlined by the $35,000 Birdsville Cup. Crowds of over 6000 racegoers converge on Birdsville each year to celebrate the carnival, consisting of three great nights of live entertainment. Other entertainment includes the RFDS cocktail party, RFDS fun run, fashions on the field, Fred Brophy’s boxing troupe, equine fun day, food vendors, a giant auction and much more. The town of Birdsville itself has a population of around 120 people, making the population around 50 times the size for one weekend. Birdsville races attracts a wide demographic with people from all over Australia, it is certainly one event you have to see once. Some pros and cons of Birdsville races include:

Pros:
– 2 days of racing
– Pub
– Don’t have to pay for cabs anywhere because there is none
– Wear whatever you want to the races
– Sufficient toilets and showers
– Hard to get lost, look for specific landmarks

Cons:
– Allow a week for travel to and from Birdsville
– Prickles in everything
– $10 for a gold can
– Won’t be able to buy drinks if you lose on the punt
– Won’t shower anyway
– Probably get knocked out in the boxing tent in front of your mates

Alpha Races

Source: Queensland Country Life

The Alpha Races has been revolutionary since its recommencement in 2013, earning its reputation of the day of days for racing in Central-Western Queensland. Usually the 3rd weekend in June, the event attracts thousands primarily from Rockhampton, the Central Highlands and Central Western Queensland. Alpha races boasts a 6 race card with more then $77,500 prize money on offer with the feature event being the $20,000 Alpha Cup Open Handicap over 1700 metres. The entertainment starts on the Friday night at the golf club with the Calcutta for the main race, and continues on the next day with fashions on the field and lives entertainment till late, immediately after the final race. The Alpha community and the laid-back carefree approach of locals make it one of the most enjoyable days of the year, capped off with recovery breakfast and breathalyzer on Sunday morning.

Pros:
– Cheapest priced drinks in QLD
– Free camping at race track
– No lineups for toilets
– Eagle Rock played
– Impossible to get kicked out

Cons:
– No ATM
– Will need a loan off one of the boys
– Your mates aren’t good punters so wont have any money anyway
– Can’t look at form on your phone because it wont load – bring Best Bets
– Can’t read Best Bets because you’ve had too many beers

Roma Races Carnival

Source: RomaRaces.org.au

Put some savings aside for this one, the Railway Stakes day in the west means its time for Roma races, regardless of your poor performance during the spring carnival. Bassett Park Roma hosts an 8 race card including the $50,000 Roma Cup Open Handicap over 1640m, one of the only country TAB meetings in Australia. Powered campsites and on-venue camping means entertainment starts on arrival, with most campsites not short of blow-up pools and marquee shade structures to escape the heat. The Roma nightlife provides the goods the night before with hundreds pouring through ‘The Zone’ nightclub doors. The campground provides food stalls, toilets and showers as well as a Sunday morning breathalyzer to stay on the safe side on the way home. There is also live entertainment in the ‘snake pit’ well into the night following the races. In the Southwest region of the state, Roma typically attracts thousands from the area as well as the Southeast corner and Darling Downs. Plenty from Central and Western Queensland also make the journey, meaning the Roma Races Carnival is one of the biggest events of the year.

Source: Racing Queensland

Pros:
– Full TAB meet, can use your bonus bets and odds boosters on betting apps
– On course ATMs
– Can still clean bookies out at Ascot after locals have finished
– Don’t need to have a shower if you swim in a blow up pool instead

Cons:
– Hot
– Only 2 cabs in Roma
– Think its midday when its only 7am
– Blow up pools get dirty
– Line up for fuel on the way home

Twin Hills

Source: Isaac Regional Council

Not for the faint-hearted, Twin Hills races puts the country in country races. This meet in late September is very unique in a sense that it is not situated in a town as such, rather a more remote location in between Clermont and Charters Towers, drawing crowds from up north and Central Queensland primarily, and of course almost all locals from surrounding areas. Twin Hills is a special occasion that includes 2 days of racing, rodeo and camp drafting throughout the whole weekend. The event draws massive crowds every year, with well-deserved high expectations for the weekend. The entertainment is non-stop for the duration, beginning with campsite pre drinks prior to the Friday race day, continuing with a rodeo in the main arena and NRL preliminary finals on the big screen, before the dirt dance floor comes alive and the bar is in full swing. Be sure to bring some lollie water, it’s an absolute necessity come Saturday morning. The Saturday card has 5 big races with the $11,500 BM65 Twin Hills Cup being the feature. The entertainment includes fashions on the field, Calcutta, food stalls and live music trackside until late. The combination of camping, 2 days of races and unlimited entertainment make Twin Hills an absolute must do and virtually impossible to have a bad time.

Pros:
– No rules
– Not near anything
– No phone signal, behavior can’t be seen on social media
– 2 race days
– Best bookie in QLD
– On course ATMs
– Can’t have a bad time

Cons:
– Very easy to get lost, all campsites look the same
– Can’t ring your mates if you get lost
– Can blow all your money on Friday punting at Mount Gambier
– Lots of big belt buckles and cowboy hats
– At least a 6 hour drive back to wherever you came from
– Sometimes get home with winning tickets from bookies you don’t see often

With the year coming to a close, these events should be penciled in immediately for 2018. For most people that have experienced them, they can’t come quick enough.

Have Your Say: Do you know any other country race meets worth checking out? Comment below!

 
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