Cyclonic. Profile


Location: Australia

Gender: M

Member Since: April 2020

Last online: April 2020

Open for read requests: Yes

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Way out beyond the black stump, somewhere in the middle of nowhere, a tiny settlement called Birdsville, manfully struggles for survival between the Eastern edges of the desolate and inhospitable Simpson Desert and the equally comfortless Sturts Stoney Desert. But life there is not all drought and flies, for through this area runs a regular deluge from the catchments far away to the North. And this massive onslaught of water brings with it the wet season that the cattle country needs to survive. This part of the world is where hard people manage huge tracts of prime cattle land. And the head quarters for this bovine empire is Birdsville, with it's population of just some 115 hardy souls. There are many such places in Australia, but no other up country settlement lives as large in the psyche of the average Australian as this small town. Why? Because in this place where it's said that the crows fly backwards in order to keep the sand out of their bloodshot eyes, huge masses of country race fans annually descend upon the Diamantina Shire, a patch of dirt more than twice the size of Denmark, to take part in an event like no other, the Birdsville Cup, the outback version of that great race that stops the nation, the Melbourne Cup.

A thousand miles out of Brisbane, Birdsville rests in the South West corner of Queensland, not too far from where the states of South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory connect. To get there by road, the trip can be an adventure in itself. A constant battle with massive road trains, crumbling edges and in early September when the race is run, the beginning of temperatures that can create a nice old rash in the groin. And if it's not the heat, it's the bloody all encompassing bulldust that clings to the landscape like baby dung to a blanket. And the closer one gets to the destination, the thicker the traffic congestion, increasing in magnitude as the huge numbers of cars, trucks, buses and caravaners relentlessly trundle on. But large numbers of revelers get there by small plane. The local airstrip rapidly finds itself transformed into a sprawling city of tents. And for a short but colourful period, Birdsville blossoms like a a brilliant desert flower.

And across the road from the only hotel in town, all within earshot will be drawn by the incessant thumping of the big base drum, towards the gaudily marked boxing tent owned by the one any only Fred Brophy. Known as the Birdsville National Anthem, the constant banging will be accompanied by the friendly banter of the spruker of the last traveling boxing troupe in the country. Upon the planked trestle he'll strut and challenge. He'll call for challengers to take on his fighters with the old "A round or two for a pound or two." And slowly the booze and bravado will loosen enough tongues to see all matches made. Once inside, patrons will settle into the cheap plastic chairs for the show. The Marquis of Queensbury rules are briefly mentioned but quickly forgotten, before fighters such as Little White Lightning, the Burketown Mauler, Pretty Boy and the Burramundi Kid come to wild arm waiving blows with the walk up patrons. For an hour or so the atmosphere is filled with raucous laughter and enthusiastic cheering as the worst fighters in the outback struggle to land a decent piece of cracked leather on each other.

The real reason the crowds roll up though is for the racing. And of course the feature event is the Cup itself, run over the metric mile on a track that kicks up so much dust that some horses will reef and tear and drift back through the pack, just to avoid the great clouds of grit kicked skyward by those up front. The XXXX Gold Cup will headline a two day program that will be contested on the 3rd & 4th of this month and will cover some thirteen races with prize money totaling some $130,000. While the pickings are lean compared to the major events around the world, they never the less represent a welcome return for the battlers who support the well traveled bush circuit.

One of the interesting side lights to last year's Cup was the performance of a horse called Longstreet, part owned by the afore mentioned Fred Brophy, the boxing tent maestro. In the lead up to the race, he'd promised his long time partner that if his horse won the Birdsville Cup, he would marry the good woman. Sadly, Longstreet came up short. The Cup is the second last event on the second day. I would also suggest that the viewer keep an ear out for the crowds reaction when the starter sets the field free for the big race. By this time of the day, I should imagine that air is thick with the exhaled fumes of thousands of gallons of amber ale, which would then be sucked back into the lungs along with great clouds of cloying dust.


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