Lasseters Camel Cup

Wildlife : The Camel

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

Name: Dromedary

Scientific Name: Camelus dromedarius

Alternative Names: Arabian Camel, Indian Camel, One-hump Camel

 

Fast Facts

  • Dromedaries are found in Arabian deserts, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Africa and now Australia.  They are the next largest member of the camel family, second to the two humped Bactrian camel, which is found mainly in China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.
  • Males can be up to 2m tall and weigh up to 600kg.
  • Camels wee on their legs and the evaporation cools them off.
  • Their specialised kidneys allow them to tolerate water loss of more than 30% – more than 15% water loss would kill most other animals.
  • Their hump is filled with fat, not water.
  • Their bushy eyebrows and long lashes protect their eyes, and they are able to completely close their nostrils during sandstorms.
  • Alpacas and llamas are related to camels
  • Camels first arrived in Australia in 1840 and up until 1907, about 12,000 camels were imported.  They were registered like we register cars today, and when cars finally came on the scene, all the camels were released into the wild.  Australia is now the only place in the world where you’ll find feral camels.

 

There are so many amazing camel facts – check them out for yourself!

 

Cable Beach

 

Our Encounter

Everybody knows about Juz’s close encounter with a camel named Coco in Western Australia.  Since then, we have crossed paths with many other camels, particularly in Broome and Alice Springs.

 

Juz probably didn't deserve it... probably...

 

We had a fantastic day at the Lasseters Camel Cup in Alice Springs watching the camels racing around the track and getting up close to them between races.

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

Alice Springs

Town Profile : Alice Springs

Alice Springs

 

After receiving the shocking wakeup call that we we’re suddenly south of the Tropic of Capricorn, we rolled into Alice Springs cold and hungry.  Our first stop was pizza, then a hot shower at the town centre before a beer at the pub.  We then made contact with our first Helpx host.

 

We did two Helpx jobs while we were in Alice.  The first one was a landscaping gig for a family of four.  We stayed in their granny flat for four nights and gave their garden a lovely makeover.  For the remainder of our time in Alice, we stayed with Derren, his housemate and their two dogs.  Dave worked at his steel yard while Juz cooked and cleaned at home.

 

Alice Springs is sits in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre and is flanked by the MacDonnell Ranges on either side.  With a red sandy desert stretching for kilometers in all directions, Alice is an iconic Australian town and is the gateway to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.

 

Alice Springs

 

Fast Facts

  • Alice Springs is the third largest town in the Northern Territory
  • The population sits at around 28,000, which is about 12% of the Territory’s population
  • Alice Springs supposedly has 270 mm of rain a year but 70% of years are below average.  It’s a land of droughts and flooding rains

 

Alice Springs

 

History

Arrernte are the original inhabitants, who refer to Alice as Mparntwe, and believe that the MacDonnell Ranges were carved by giant caterpillar spirits during the creation time.  They took care of the land until European settlement.

 

The town first started off as a telegraph station for the Overland Telegraph Line.  This line follows the expedition route of John McDouall Stuart, who crossed Australia from south to north in 1862.  Just over 20 years later, a boom in population would be caused by the discovery of alluvial gold at Arltunga, about 100km east of Alice Springs.

 

Camels were integral for the survival of people living in Central Australia and were used to transport wool and provisions to Alice and the surrounding sheep and cattle stations, missions and aboriginal communities, as well as to pull ploughs to build dams.  Camel trains would travel over 600km from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs to bring supplies to Alice Springs, but once the railway line between Alice and Adelaide was completed in 1929, the camels were released, and with more motor and air transport flowing through the region, the isolation of Alice dissipated.

 

If it wasn’t for the cameleers and the camels, Alice Springs wouldn’t not have survived, and to celebrate, The Camel Cup is raced every year.

 

Alice Springs 2014-06-24 001

 

Until the early 1930s, the location of the town was actually called Stuart, while a nearby waterhole was called Alice Springs after Lady Alice Todd, the wife of Sir Charles Todd.  The telegraph station was built next to the spring and this caused a bunch of confusion for administrators down in Adelaide, so in 1933, Stuart was officially gazetted as Alice Springs.

 

These days, the town is full of nice hotels, restaurants, Aboriginal art galleries and well over 25,000 inhabitants.

 

Places of Interest

Telegraph Station Historical Reserve

The reserve is where the actual Alice Spring is, a little waterhole named after Lady Alice Todd.  The old buildings of the telegraph station are still there, and you can pay to explore the station, or you can just look at the building from the other side of the fence.  There are a number of walking trails from the station that lead into the bush but beware, they aren’t very clearly marked and you may find yourself walking for hours in the wrong direction.

 

Alice Springs

 

Mount Gillen

If you’re fit and keen for a decent climb, then head west along Larapinta Drive until you come across Flynn’s Grave.  This is the starting point for the trail that challenges Mount Gillen and depending on your fitness, this activity will take 2-3 hours.

 

The peak of Gillen can be seen from town and leans over the landscape like a wave about to break.  The return trip is just under 5km and takes you up nearly 300 metres.  It’s a tough hike but once you hit the peak, you’re on top of the world.

 

Alice Springs

 

Anzac Hill Lookout

If you’re not game to challenge the mountain, then maybe a hill is more to your liking.  Anzac Hill Lookout is right in the centre of town and gives great views of the surrounding area.  It’s really popular at sunset.

 

Alice Springs

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

This is a must see attraction in Alice Springs.  You get to meet a variety of reptiles, including snakes, goannas and blue tongue lizards.  We absolutely loved our time at the Reptile Centre – check out our post here.

 

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

 

Todd Mall Markets

Every second Sunday, Todd Mall is lined with market stalls selling clothes, crafts and yummy foods.  It’s a great opportunity to loiter around for breakfast, purchase some Italian biscuits or to grab a coffee and a bargain.  If you’re a market fiend, every alternate Sunday is the Heavitree Gap Market, next door to the tavern.

 

Alice Springs

 

Events

Finke Desert Race

This is Australia’s great desert race. For four days over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, cars, quads, bikes and buggies flood the town and kick up the dirt and attempt the two day, off road, multi terrain race from Alice Springs to the Aputula community.

 

We went along to the Prologue day on Saturday and the Finishing day on Monday to support our mate, Tony from Loveday 4×4 Adventure Park.  While he was coming first in his class on the first day, he busted a shocker on the second day and rolled in last, 3 minutes before the finishing deadline.

 

Finke Desert Race

 

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

One of the worlds’ most unique festivals, the Alice Springs Beanie Festival runs for four days and features thousands of the most creative and colourful beanies you’ll ever see.  We were lucky enough to be in town for the event and thought it was really special.  Check out our post here.

 

Alice Springs Beanie Festival

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

This annual fundraising event has a reputation that precedes it.  If you’re lucky enough to be in town for this kooky occasion, attend!  You won’t regret it – check out our post here.

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

Henley On Todd Regatta

One of the kookiest events we’ve ever been to, the Henley On Todd Regatta occurs annually in Alice Springs and takes place on the dry bed of the Todd River.  Check out our post here.

 

Henley On Todd

 

 

Food & Drink

There is not a lot of choice in Alice Springs, but there are a few places where you can get a good feed.  Uncle’s Tavern in the centre of town is an easy location for a beer and a relatively cheap feed, Outback Kebabs is good when they’re actually open and ice cream lovers can head to Uncle Edy’s Ice Cream for an awesome selection of flavours to suit anybody.  For great fish and chips, you can’t beat Eastside Fish and Chips, and if you’re craving for pie, Wicked Kneads near Coles will satisfy.  Here are a few of our favourites…

 

Rocky’s Pizza

This was our first stop in town and we happened to hit the jackpot. It dishes out the best pizza we’ve had in a very long time.

 

The Gillen Club

For the truly hungry, you can’t go past the Gillen Club.  Expect to pay around $20 for lamb shanks, chicken parmigiana, or salt and pepper squid, which is a pretty good deal, and with every meal, you get all you can eat at the salad bar.  Check out our post here.

 

Epilogue

Yummy café by day, awesome cocktail bar at night, Epilogue covers all the bases. Check out our post here.

 

Epilogue Cafe & Lounge

 

Monte’s Lounge

The colourful carnival surroundings of Monte’s make it a great place to have a few drinks on a Friday night.  They also do great food.  Check out our post here.

 

Monte's

 

Information & Accommodation

The Visitor Information Centre is located on Todd Mall opposite Alice Plaza.

 

For some conveniently located and great value accommodation, check out Alice Springs YHA on the corner of Leichhardt Terrace and Parsons Street. Check out our post here.
Book your accommodation through TripAdvisor

 

Alice Springs YHA

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

NT Events : Lasseters Camel Cup, Alice Springs

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

We were stoked to find out that the Camel Cup was on during our final weekend in Alice Springs.  At the last minute, we contacted the organisers of the event and scored media passes so that we could have special access to the various features and attractions at the event.

 

The Camel Cup

The Lasseters Camel Cup is an annual fundraising event that brings together the local community and visitors from all over the world to enjoy a truly unique Central Australian experience.

 

It started in 1970 when two mates, Noel Fullerton and Keith Mooney-Smith, settled a bet with a camel race at the Alice Springs Centenary Year Celebrations.  The event was so popular that it became an annual event run by the local Lions Club.

 

After 40 years of organising a fantastic day of camel races each year and raising funds to assist the community, the Lions Club have handed over the reins to the APEX Club of Central Australia with the intention of breathing new life into the iconic event.  Noel Fullerton is still involved in the Camel Cup by supplying most of the racing camels and is seen as the grandfather of the camel industry in Australia.

 

Other attractions on the day include jumping castles and a petting zoo with a piglet that falls asleep when you rub its belly, live music and an after party at Lasseters Casino.  All proceeds from the Camel Cup are put back into the community via the community grant scheme or used by the Lions Club and APEX Club to provide community support.

 

 

 

The Camels

The camels are the stars of the show, and because of their unpredictability, it results in some serious entertainment.  The nature of the camels can range from docile and friendly to downright cranky and disobedient.

 

Because of this irregularity, any attempts for Juz to make peace with her demons were thwarted by an overwhelming fear, which grew after peering down the chops of a gargling camel.

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

The Events

The main event of the day is Race 5, the XXXX Gold Lasseters Camel Cup, and this year’s winner was reigning champion Hannah Purss, who rode Roman Ruma Ruma the camel to their second consecutive Camel Cup victory.

 

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

The Honeymoon Handicap race was one of our favourite events.  The camel race starts as normal, but halfway around the track, the “grooms” must stop their camels and collect their “brides” before racing to the finish line.  This was one of the most chaotic, frantic and hilarious things we’ve ever seen!  As officials and riders attempted to stop the charging camels, the camels were bucking, growling and spitting.  Some camels decided they didn’t want to stop for a bride and just continued on.  Those who managed to stop their camels attempted to control the beast while a bewildered bride clambered on.  Once the brides and grooms were ready (or not), the camel would clumsily stand up and gallop off towards the finish line.

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

The Rickshaw Races and Battleship Water Cannon Hose Off are two events that don’t involve camels.  The Rickshaw Races involve two people sitting in the rickshaw, which is pulled around the track by two other people.  Halfway around the track, the pairs swap so the passengers become the pullers.  It looked like a lot of fun… and hard work!

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

The Henley on Todd Water Cannon Hose Off was great.  Two vehicles were dressed as ships – one was a pirate ship and the other was a naval vessel – and these two battleships hooned around the centre of the arena, blasting each other with water cannons.  If it wasn’t wintertime, we would have loved to be on one of those ships – it would have been the ultimate summertime water fight!

 

Lasseters Camel Cup

 

The Essentials

The Lasseters Camel Cup is held annually on the second Saturday of July at the Noel Fullarton Camel Racing Arena in Blatherskite Park, the only purpose built camel racing venue in the southern hemisphere.

 

Entry to the 2014 Camel Cup was $17 for adults or $38 for a family pass.  Kids under 12 are free!  There is also a free shuttle bus available to take you to and from the event, just in case you want to have a few drinks while watching the races.

 

For more information about the Camel Cup, visit http://www.camelcup.com.au/

 

Lasseters Camel Cup