Racetrack tourists stranded in Birdsville flo


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06-09-2010 08:07 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


06-09-2010 08:07 AM



06-09-2010 08:47 AM

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2010-09-06 08:07:05

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Racetrack tourists stranded in Birdsville flo -

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Heavy rain in outback Queensland has disrupted the annual pilgrimage to the Birdsville track for
one of the nation's most iconic race events. An estimated 5,000 visitors are stranded in a town of
just 100, and its hoped the local pub's supply will hold out until the big wet eases.

TONY EASTLEY: The big weather systems that pushed into central and eastern areas at the weekend
dumped rain in some normally very dry areas. Each year, around this time, thousands of visitors
turn up in the remote, western Queensland town of Birdsville for its annual racing carnival.

The event has been held for 128 years, but for the first time in club records more than half the
program has been cancelled because of rain. Thirty-two millimetres fell on Friday closing all the
roads out of Birdsville and leaving the clay track under a film of water.

Nicole Bond prepared this report.

NICOLE BOND: Visitors descend on Birdsville for an outback experience and this year they got one
they didn't expect.

VOX POP: It would be unbearable. It would be a lot of mud everywhere. It would be yeah, unbearable,
you know. It wouldn't be any fun.

VOX POP 2: I'm so thankful that we never got to Birdsville.

VOX POP 3: I'll be back next year for sure.

NICOLE BOND: The western Queensland town has a population of about 100 people but that swells to
around 50 times that, come the races. Race organisers say floods have stranded 5,000 visitors in

Lisa Magoffin is among them.

LISA MAGOFFIN: Every available space and tree and fence had a tent or mattress hanging off it to
dry out. People are sick of hot dogs and hot chips so they're trying to get some, a bit of catering
going on in town to feed the troops but you know otherwise people's spirits are really good.
Everybody is happy - just waiting to see what happens.

NICOLE BOND: Pumps are being used to drain the clay pan track in the hope racing can recommence on
Tuesday but the president of the Birdsville Race Club says it is unlikely to work.

David Brook says the town supplies will dwindle if roads don't open soon.

DAVID BROOK: It is starting to test everyone's patience at the moment. Difficult to get supplies in
by road, impossible at the moment. I understand there may be some airlifts coming in. That will
help but we've got a large number of people stranded here. No one has been able to leave the town
since Friday apart from flying out so there's difficulties but so far people are still in good

NICOLE BOND: The Birdsville Hotel is staging street cricket matches and extra music to distract and
entertain visitors. Publican Brian Hanna says his 60 tonnes of alcohol should last until the end of
the week.

BRIAN HANNA: Nothing will ever affect the atmosphere here. We have probably about the same numbers
as the year we had no horses. We just make our own Aussie entertainment out there and everyone has
a good time just because we have a little bit of rain and no horses doesn't mean we still can't

TONY EASTLEY: Publican Brian Hanna from the Birdsville Hotel, Nicole Bond our reporter.