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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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/