2021 Birdsville Races Tickets On Sale in May

Monday January 25, 2021

Gary Brook – Birdsville Race Club Vice-President

Bumper Crowds Expected – Pre-purchase of tickets required to attend

Working to overcome the Covid hurdles that forced the cancellation of the 2020 Birdsville Races, event organisers today 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.  There’s really no where 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.

Also, for the first time in the events history, 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 side and we’re predominantly an outdoor event.  Those two factors alone are a huge advantage in helping us keep race goers 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 day, 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 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

More info:         www.birdsvilleraces.com

For more information on the Birdsville Races Roadies go to www.birdsvilleracesroadies.com

Travel packages to the event are available via preferred travel partner Sportsnet Travel at https://sportsnetholidays.com/events/horse-racing/birdsville-races-2021/

The Paddock Australia Launch

Monday October 12, 2020

Ginnie Hope-Johnstone (VC Events Director)

MEDIA RELEASE – VC Events Co Australia Pty Ltd is pleased to announce the launch of The Paddock Australia.  A concept designed to educate consumers and celebrate the food and fibre our local Aussie farmers continue to produce.

Consider it as an opportunity to dine in some of the most exclusive locations whilst enjoying and learning about the produce you consume.

You will hear from the farmers, tour the paddock, take photos amongst the crop, and finish it off with an amazing meal of local produce from surrounding farms. Cooked onsite, in the paddock, by the chefs just for you.

We want to educate consumers about Food and Fibre – how and where it is grown, the process it goes through to become food on the supermarket shelf and clothes on our back.

At the same time, it is an opportunity to celebrate the products our Aussie farmers continually produce – their stories will be shared, from the challenges they have overcome to the little wins they’ve had along the way, all to produce the food you so commonly consume and will enjoy on the day.

‘The Paddock’ aims to increase consumer awareness around Australian agriculture, and what better way  to gain an insight than dining in the paddock where their food is literally grown.

More recently, it has become a common sight to see people unknowingly trespass to take photos of a crop.  The sight of the flowering canola or sunflowers in mass is so appealing to urban consumers with limited to no access to a paddock or crop of their own. It looks beautiful in such a large capacity, however the link is often unknown or forgotten that the seed from that flower is the one you consume in your muesli every day or the oil you cook with.

These products don’t just appear on the shelf and are often taken for granted; consumers forget to make the link that someone has actually grown it.

Through the creation of The Paddock, it brings together the urban and rural populations, where it can be enjoyed by all. The farmers will educate and possibly take some learnings away from the consumers.  And the consumers will learn, all whilst enjoying a delicious meal of local produce from surrounding areas supporting our farmers.

Offering up an opportunity that a lot of consumers don’t have access to on an everyday basis and sharing stories from the farmers in their paddock is an exciting concept. It adds a new arm to VC Events’ existing rural, regional, and remote event management business that operates throughout Australia.

The Paddock plans to share their table in a whole variety of paddocks across farms throughout Australia: where your steak was literally raised, where the barley was grown for your next cold beer, the vines that produced the grapes for your wine or the fields of cotton where the threads in your shirt were grown. There are endless opportunities.

Partnering with a variety of producers and farmers throughout Australia, keep an eye out for a farm near you, or request The Paddock to come to a farm near you or become a host farm.

For more details on The Paddock Australia and to get in touch go to www.vcevents.com.au/the-paddock

Launching 2021.

LambEx 2021 Cancelled

Thursday October 1, 2020

The organisers of Australia’s premier sheep and lamb conference, LambEx, have announced the event that was rescheduled for 2021 in Victoria, has been cancelled.

Conference Chair Georgina Gubbins said the uncertainty and risk associated with COVID-19 meant it was just not possible to progress plans further at this stage.

Ms Gubbins said, rather than postpone again, LambEx organisers had made the difficult decision to cancel, but plan to re-commence discussions with sponsors and exhibitors as soon as practicable to ensure LambEx continues as a significant sheep industry event.

“We know this news will be disappointing for many people right across the sheep industry and beyond. It is not a decision that has been taken lightly but we feel it is in the best interests of all involved at the moment to wait and resume planning at a later date,” she said.

“We are hugely appreciative of the ongoing support of all our sponsors, exhibitors and delegates and look forward to working with them to continue the LambEx tradition. LambEx has been running now since 2010 and has become a major focus for the industry both here and internationally.

“Organisers are committed to the event’s future and are keen to put in place plans for when and where a future event might be held and what it might look like in a post-COVID environment,” Ms Gubbins said.

LambEx major sponsors are Agriculture Victoria, Coles, JBS Australia and Meat & Livestock Australia together with event partners Gallagher, Rabobank, rma network and Melbourne Showgrounds.

For future updates, monitor the LambEx event website www.lambex.com.au


9 NEWS – “We’ll be back”: Birdsville’s quiet weekend as iconic outback races fall victim to COVID-19

‘We’ll be back’: Birdsville’s quiet weekend as iconic outback races fall victim to COVID-19

By Letitia Rowlands • Digital Producer

11:39am Sep 4, 2020

Ben Fullagar admits a “had a moment” earlier this week.

“I was sitting out the front having a cup of tea on Wednesday morning and it suddenly hit me,” Mr Fullagar said.

“Wednesday is the day that everyone starts arriving and setting up, and there was nobody here.

Birdsville Hotel General Manager Ben Fullagar outside the Birdsville Hotel yesterday. (Supplied)

“It’s the day where if you have forgotten to order anything it’s too late.”Everything kicks off and you survive on very little sleep for the next five days.”

Mr Fullagar is general manager of the Birdsville Hotel and, in the outback Queensland town, the first weekend in September means just one thing – the Birdsville Races.

Known as the Melbourne Cup of the outback, the 138th Birdsville Races was scheduled to kick-off today – until COVID-19 forced its cancellation.

A much busier Birdsville Hotel this time last year. (Supplied)

The iconic annual event sees the Birdsville community of 115 locals swell to more than 8000 as visitors enjoy the region’s yabby races, street parties and various other events that lead into the big Friday and Saturday race days at the Birdsville Race Track.

More than $200,000 in prize money also attracts horses, trainers and jockeys from around the country to the dusty Simpson Desert course each year.

Mr Fullagar’s hotel normally orders 70 tonnes of alcohol for thirsty Birdsville racegoers, employs a team of 140 to take care of the standing room only crowd, and shuts the kitchen to the public in order to feed exhausted workers.

And they’re off: the dusty Simpson Desert track last September. (Supplied)

This weekend there are just 11 staff working at the hotel and, under COVID-19 restrictions, the kitchen can serve only 100 meals a night.

“It’s certainly very different this year,” Mr Fullagar said.

“It’s a bit strange, but everyone needs to do what is needed to stop the spread of the virus and we understand that.”

Races stalwart Fred Brophy would have been one of the regulars setting up across the road from the hotel on Wednesday morning, as he has for more than 40 years.

Instead he was more than 1400km away in the Queensland town of Cracow, where he runs the local hotel.

Fred Brophy has been bringing his boxing troupe to Birdsville for more than 40 years. (Supplied)

“It’s hard to believe a virus from another country has changed things so much out here in outback Queensland,” Mr Brophy said.

“But it has, and that’s just the way it is.”

Mr Brophy and his world-famous travelling boxing troupe are a major drawcard to many of the thousands who head to Birdsville each September.

Many locals credit “Brophy’s boys” for helping maintain the trouble free atmosphere over the weekend, as any racegoers feeling a bit hot under the collar can take their aggression out in the Mr Brophy’s ring in a controlled and entertaining way.

“Brophy’s boys” are a crowd favourite in Birdsville each year. (Supplied)

“We will be back next year,” Mr Brophy said.

“We are the only ones in the world doing what we do and we will keep doing it as soon as we can.”

Another Birdsville Races regular who is looking forward to returning in 2021 is veteran race caller Josh Fleming.

Mr Fleming has called the race 17 times in the last 20 years – the first time as a 14-year-old in 1999.

Mr Fleming believes the uniqueness of location makes the Birdsville Races like no other meet.

Josh Fleming called his first Birdsville Races in 1999, aged just 14. (Supplied)

“I owe a lot to Birdsville for giving me a start as a teenager and inviting me back each year,” he said.

“It’s not even just about the races, some people don’t even make it to the track, they just enjoy what’s going on in town.

“I’ve made friendships in Birdsville that I will have for my whole life, that’s just the kind of event it is.”

Mr Fullagar is philosophical about the 2020 cancellation, saying the break is giving organisers a chance to “think about how things are done”.

“There really isn’t much of a break usually from the end of one races until we are back organising the next,” he said.

Anything goes at the Birdsville Races. (Supplied)

“This is giving us a chance to step back and have a think about how we can do things differently.

“I have no doubt it will be bigger and better in 2021.”

Chances are, he is right.

The Birdsville Races have only been cancelled once before in its 137-year history – in 2007 when equine flu forced races to stop.

The following year saw the event’s biggest ever turnout.

Locals have no doubt the crowds will be back. (Supplied)

In the meantime, Mr Fullagar is happy to be hosting Australians unable to travel overseas who are using this time to discover the Australian outback for the first time.

“There are definitely some positives that have come from having a quieter period,” he said.

“For instance, I’ve also had people tell me they have been to Birdsville five times, but never been able to get a room at the hotel because it’s been booked out – now is their chance.”

Hopefully the hotel also has room for one familiar face this weekend – Mr Brophy.

“I might make the trip down there anyway to catch up with everyone in town,” Mr Brophy said this week.

It seems some habits just can’t be broken – not even by a worldwide pandemic.

Covid Safe Wedding Success

On Saturday August 22nd, VC Events first Covid Safe planned wedding was executed in Wellington, NSW with our wedding contracting partner White Top Venues.

Jack and Georgia’s wedding was originally planned to take place on Saturday April 4, 2020 but due to the global pandemic and like many other brides and grooms to be, we had to put things on hold. We made the decision to postpone their wedding to August 22nd, staying hopeful conditions would ease, and thankfully we were able to execute their dream day for them.

This did however, involve a number of changes from their original plans to align closely with state and government health regulations. The day was a success, Jack and Georgia are now enjoying their honey moon, and the chilly weather couldn’t even put a dampener on their day.

Changes included but were not limited to the following:

Guest numbers were slightly decreased due to some interstate and international travel restrictions bringing guest numbers down to 110 (150 guests or less as per NSW state regulations).

All guests were seated at the ceremony giving a formal feel to the occasion and cocktail furniture was also increased to accommodate for all guests to be seated throughout the canape service which remained as per originally planned.

A slight shuffle in the run sheet to push back the ceremony time and bring forward the reception time allowed us to minimise the duration of canapes where people were most likely to move around.

Throughout the reception, guests were seated with family members on tables of ten as originally planned and although the dance floor and DJ were not present, an acoustic guitarist was the perfect addition to create an intimate mood for the celebrations.

All food and beverage was table service, and hand sanitiser stations were readily available throughout all aspects of the day for guests and staff to utilise frequently.

White Top Venues provided a ‘Covid Moniter’ who ensured regulations were being followed at all times and social distancing reminders were not forgotten. Staff wore masks at all times, and additional table, glassware, bar and bathroom cleaning was undertaken as a precaution.

As event managers we developed a Covid Safe Plan consisting of an extensive risk assessment, including a full list of guest and staff contact details, and everyone was encouraged to download the Covid Safe App.

Travel restrictions got me, and I was unable to cross the border to manage this wedding for White Top, however working as an interstate team, Jack and Georgia’s wedding was executed seamlessly regardless with the NSW White Top team.

Jack and Georgia’s wedding has given us confidence for the future as we continue to work and closely follow the government and state health regulations throughout this pandemic.

Some photography by Rachel Lenehan Photography

For covid safe enquiries, please contact ginnie@vcevents.com.au