Aug 31 & Sep 1

Volunteer call-out for 135th Birdsville Races


Tick off the bucket-list while supporting The Royal Flying Doctor Service

 Australia’s most iconic outback bucket-list experience – the Birdsville Races – are calling on volunteers nationwide to help deliver its historic 135th edition as the countdown to the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’ hits the two-month mark.

Not just a dusty good-time in the bush, the Races present an opportunity to give back to the community, with the event raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia – a vital charity that provides help to remote areas often cut off from medical services, as well as inter-hospital transfer services between metropolitan areas.

Volunteer registrations are now live at, with all volunteers required to be 18 years-of-age or over.

Volunteers can nominate to complete their shift with friends and family, and in line with a particular skill-set or area of interest. Depending on the team, volunteer time-commitments start from as little as nine hours.

In return, volunteers receive an exclusive souvenir volunteer polo shirt and complementary two-day racing pass, granting them access to all of the exhilarating action at Birdsville’s iconic dirt race track – from punting and celebrating to trackside dining and Fashions on the Field.

Before and after shifts, volunteers can participate in an array of one-of-a-kind experiences as Birdsville transforms into a buzzing hive of activity with film, live music, cocktail parties and travelling boxing tents.

“Volunteering is one of the most immersive, rewarding and exciting ways to experience all the magic of the Birdsville Races,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.

 “When you work behind-the-scenes, you get a deeper insight into the community and heritage of the Races – the unique and wonderful characters, the sense of comradery, and the huge effort that goes into putting on an event of this scale in one of Australia’s most remote and distinct cultural heartlands,” said Mr Brook.

“The lasting friendships and memories that every volunteer takes away is something truly unique and special – and to be able to gain all of this while helping the Royal Flying Doctor Service is very rewarding for all involved,” concluded Mr Brook.

Along with 7,000 visitors, volunteers of all ages flock hundreds-of-thousands of kilometres to Birdsville every year to help deliver a two-day, 13-race program, and a jam-packed schedule of outback entertainment and activities.

Many volunteers travel by car and bus from metropolitan towns and centres in Queensland, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, with some even chartering private jets to cut down on travel-time and catch a bird’s-eye view of Australia’s spectacular outback terrain in the process.

Many volunteers begin their journey from the beginning of August – travelling with friends, family and partners – and setting up camp early to enjoy the region’s yabby races, street parties and various other events that lead into the big Friday and Saturday race days.

Others choose to take a more direct route, exploring and detouring via the Simpson Desert and Lake Eyre on their way home once the Races have finished.

At the 2016 Birdsville Races, volunteers spanned a wide age-range and geographic spread, with the youngest volunteer being a teenage girl from Tully (QLD) who road-tripped with a friend to celebrate her 19th birthday.  

At the other end of the spectrum was a 79 year-old retiree who drove from South Australia, a retired couple in their 70s who journeyed more than 1600 kilometres from Maroochydore, and a 62 year-old retired policewoman-come-hobbyist filmmaker who caught a 24-hour bus ride to film Fred Brophy’s famous boxing troupe.

A returning volunteer in 2017 will be Adelaide pilot Tom O’Donnell, who will be reliving a familiar travel route as he flies a 4-seater piston plane into Birdsville especially for the event.

A seven-time visitor to the Birdsville Races, Mr O’Donnell piloted the world’s longest mail run between 2008 and 2011 – a round trip which spanned 3000 kilometres, two days and 16 stops – starting out in Port Augusta (SA) and stretching as far as Glengyle Station, north of Birdsville.

“I’ve been coming to Birdsville for a long time and there’s no doubt that the Races are bucket-list experience. I continue to volunteer every year now and it’s still very special – the unique atmosphere, the activities and location, the new and familiar faces you meet make it worth the long haul – no matter where you’re travelling from,” said Tom O’Donnell.