New Farm Park, Brisbane

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

GREAT WHEELBARROW RACE

Before we 'turned in' to our converted railway carriage accommodation at Undara we were told that breakfast would be a typical Aussie bush breakfast at sunrise. So at 6:30am we found ourselves on a short bush walk to the campfire area where a table was laden with breakfast ingredients and guests had to cook their own with the help of the staff.
TOH is cooking his toast.
 We sat on tree stumps to eat our breakfast and watch the sun rise behind the trees. After this breakfast with a difference we were transported back to Mt Surprise railway station.
   Before boarded the Savannahlander Train for the last time we were invited to look at a reptile display. There were all sorts of snakes and lizards in glass containers but one was a friendly carpet python.
We settled back into 'our' train thinking all the fun was over as we travelled back to Cairns but when we stopped at Almaden for lunch we were surprised to see the town all abuzz with people and excitement. It was because the "Great Wheelbarrow Race" was in progress and the first runners were due to complete this middle section of the race any minute.
The finish for the second section of the race.
The small town of Almaden with a population less than 100 suddenly had a 1000 people milling around its only hotel and finish line for the Great Wheelbarrow Race. The hotel had been extended with a canvas awning out over part of the main road from Cairns to Cape York.
The race lasts 3 days. There are different categories from individuals to teams. Some dress in fancy costumes and they all raise money for charity. The race starts in Mareeba then to Dimbulah the first day, 44km. Dimbulah to Almaden on the second day, 63km and to Chillagoe on the third day, 33km a total of 140km. pushing a wheelbarrow.
The first to arrive
Late in the 1800’s when work was scarce and transportation was limited, miners often used to travel about the region using a wheelbarrow to carry all of their possessions. In 2004, as a tribute to these early pioneers and to honour their amazing trail-blazing feats, the road between Mareeba and Chillagoe was named the Wheelbarrow Way.
The following quote from a Mr Peel, an early settler in Chillagoe captures the essence of the spirit that is being celebrated with the development of the Wheelbarrow Way and the Wheelbarrow Race.
“Dad pushed a wheelbarrow in which were stacked all our belongings. A few pieces of iron which would be used as a shelter, maybe some hessian, a spade, a lantern, a few kitchen things and very little else. Mum and the children walked behind, Mum usually with babe in arms.”

This year is the 10th anniversary of the race which honours those early settlers and also attracts tourists to the area. It also raised $450,000 for charity.
Shall we give it a go?
Our fun drivers and guides for the last four days tell us its time to board the train again.

We left the Savannah country and headed back over the mountains and into the rainforest. The scenery was "pretty darn good."

23 comments:

  1. what a cool bit of history - and i bet it is a grueling race!

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  2. another interesting post; how do you top these trips off Diane...where next? Beautiful countryside and wonderful commentary and snapshots from you

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  3. The wheelbarrow race looks like fun! But holding the snake, you are very brave! The rainforest scenery is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the history and your post.

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  4. you look just a bit worried about that friendly carpet python Diane. :) when you said a wheelbarrow race i imagined it up the main street not 100+ kilometers. wow. i love the history of that area.

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  5. Great way to have breakfast with a little snake-handling as a bonus! And the wheel-barrow race was a great bonus to your tour. What fascinating bit of pioneer history; how cool that the little town has kept t alive in this fun way.

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  6. Who would have 'thunk' it???? A Wheelbarrow Race--like that one!!!! Wow---interesting... You have so many memories from this trip, don't you????

    What did you actually have for breakfast that morning that you had to cook it over the fire??????

    A huge SNAKE???? Yipes---better you than me...

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  7. You can have that snake.......it gave me the creeps just looking at it.......lol I have never heard of this wheelbarrow race but it sounds like great idea and raising money for chairty is always good.......

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  8. I admire your getting up way early for breakfast at 6:30. I'd be so sleepy. :)
    I CAN'T believe you are holding that snake. Gives me shivers!
    Your guides really do look like they would be lots of fun.
    Who won - you or TOH?

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  9. Half a million is a substantial amount raised. I've not heard of the race, so I think it needs more publicity. Well, I have heard of it now. Btw, you look sooo relaxed with the python draped over you, not!

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  10. You're much braver than I am. I don't care how friendly that python was, I don't think I would care to hold him. The wheelbarrow race sounds fabulous. This has been quite a trip. Thanks for taking us with you.

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  11. That must have been fun to watch the wheelbarrow race. For the participents it is a real challenge to run with this.

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  12. That's a very respectable amount raised there Diane, and good on TOH and yourself for having a push :) I can't believe you look so calm holding that HUGE snake eeeeek!

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  13. Another fantastic installment Diane, you can keep the snake though. Nothing beats an early morning outdoor brekky. Amazing amount of money raised by the wheelbarrow racers.

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  14. That I call a romantic breakfast ! The snake as scarf suits you very well, lol !

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  15. Nothing like toast cooked like that.
    You and that snake, good on you.
    Fun times by the look of it..

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  16. i wonder if there is anyone alive today that can put all their belongings into a wheel barrow, even some women i know could not put the contents of their purse in one. LOL

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  17. What a fun picture of you with the snake!

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  18. What a lovely way to have Brekky! .... sitting on a log watching the sunrise. A real fun trip.

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  19. Yikes I am still stuck on the python around the neck thing:) Brave B

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  20. That was quite some day! Never heard of the Great Wheelbarrow Race - sounds like a fitting celebration.

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  21. eeeek...holding that snake? it gave me the creeps...you're very brave!

    big hugs~

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  22. I've just spent some time catching up on your last several posts. What a wonderful adventure you are having! I'd like to be having this type of 'Adventure Before Dementia'!!! .....with the exception of the snake thing. To quote Indiana Jones, "I hate snakes!"

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  23. Another great post Diane. What a cracking pace you set with your blogging.

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