Sport

Birdsville: The most famous one-horse town in the world

By Matthew Knight, CNN

Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT) October 22, 2015
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Sunrise over Birdsville and a jockey takes an early morning ride in preparation for the town's big race. The Birdsville Races were first held in 1882, run between a handful of work horses and watched by a few locals. Today, the event attracts thousands of spectators for the two-day event. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Horse owners and trainers from across Australia make the annual pilgrimage to the event described as the Melbourne Cup of the Outback.

Located close to border of Queenland and South Australia, Birdsville is 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) due west of Brisbane. Chapman's car journey from Melbourne lasted a marathon 26 hours.

"Driving into the town after being on the track for a day is surreal," she explains. "You wonder where all these people came from after only seeing relatively few cars on the track."
© Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Black Caviar trainer, Peter Moody was in attendance this year, bringing four horses to race -- but none in the Birdsville Cup. "Birdsville Races is one of the most iconic race meetings of the world, not just Australia," he said. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
The local airstrip, which lies largely empty for most of the year becomes an arrivals lounge and impromtu campsite rolled into one.

"People fly by light plane," explains Jo McKinnon from the Birdsville Race Club. "The airstrip is right alongside the pub. Some people even camp under the wings of their plane or sleep in them."
© Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
The Birdsville Hotel, which is also the only pub in the town, is the place where locals and racegoers flock to during the weekend. The drinking hole is a popular stop-off point for backpackers from all over the world and probably the most famous Outback bar in Australia. Around 80,000 cans of beer are consumed during the weekend. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Birdville Bakery owned by Dusty Miller (pictured) and their savory pies are also a must for all visitors. Many opt for curried beef, but some tourists are brave enough to sample the famous curried camel pie. Miller estimates he sells around 10,000 pies during race weekend. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images/file
"No trip to Birdsville is complete without a visit to the Birdsville Pub and Fred Brophy's Boxing Tent, the last of its kind in the world, where visitors have the chance to challenge Fred's Boxing Troupe," Chapman says. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Fights are open to all with Brophy offering a prize purse of AUS$30 a minute if a challenger defeats one of his fighters. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Ladies pose for a photo beside the Birdsville racetrack -- a welcome splash of color amid a sea of scrub and dirt. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
It's not something you'd see at Royal Enclosure at Ascot but Birdsville is a place where Elvis impersonators and men in black trilby hats can really let their hair down. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
A jockey poses with a young fan before a race. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Horses and jockeys parade for the punters ahead of Saturday's big race. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
And they're off! The 12-strong field of the 2015 Birdsville Cup get underway in the one-mile race around the dirt track -- the highlight of the 13-race meet which boasts a AUS$200,000 ($140,000) prize pot. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Chapman fixed one of her camera's to the starting gate to capture this image using a fish-eye lens. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Chapman took to the skies in a helicopter to capture this shot of the races. Every year, the event raises money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, donating AUS$40,000 ($28,000) in 2014. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Iron Meteorite ridden by James Geppert (left) wins the 2015 Birdsville Cup. © Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography
Iron Meteorite trainer Jay Morris proudly shows off the Birdsville Cup following the award ceremony.

Sharon Chapman will be presenting an exhibition of her Birdsville photos alongside equine artist, Janet Hammill in 2016. You can view more of her work at http://www.fasttrackphotography.com.au and follow her on Twitter @FastTrackPhotog
© Sharon Lee Chapman/Fast Track Photography