Birdsville – the busiest place in the world?!

A cartoonist called Lynn Johnston once said, “An apology is the superglue of life. It can repair just about anything”. So, we would like to repair our reputation as Birdsville’s best source of news by apologising for our absence on the Galah Session over the past few weeks, which is due to an incredibly busy month in Birdsville.

We’ve had interesting characters reach town after achieving amazing physical feats, we’ve competed in the Finke Desert Race in Alice Springs and have become an official sponsor of The Long Walk Home, Jenna Brook’s walk across the Simpson Desert.

It was Jenna’s walk that inspired German cyclist Walter Leven to dedicate his planned 6000-kilometre four-month-long outback ride to raising money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. After weeks of communication, Walter and Jenna finally met in Birdsville and chatted about the RFDS, their training and the outback over a cuppa.

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Walter Leven and Jenna Brook.

Shortly after Walter continued on his ride, Birdsville was graced with a visit from Merv Hughes, former Australian Cricketer, to promote the importance of men’s health.

The next day, a very healthy Owen Davies walked into town after a 994-kilometre journey following the Georgina River from Camooweal, far northwest Queensland. He had been travelling with his pack of nine goats for two months and reached Birdsville on the wettest day we’d had all year!


Merv Hughes with Councillor Jody Barr. Photo courtesy Diamantina Shire Council

The day after that, Dick and Pip Smith were in Birdsville visiting friends. They’re supporters of The Long Walk Home and caught up with Jenna at the pub before coming to the Birdsville Roadhouse to check on the progress of our Pro-Lite buggy.

Around this time, travellers James and Steph were stranded in town with a blown head gasket. Luckily, they loved the place and agreed to work at the Roadhouse when we took off for Finke, the greatest off-road race in the country. They’re still here and might be hanging around longer, yay!


Dick Smith and Jenna Brook. Photo courtesy The Long Walk Home

Later that week, a plane made an emergency landing 500 metres short of the Birdsville airstrip and our little town made the national news. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the plane was successfully recovered.

We were just about to leave for Finke when our supply truck got bogged on the Birdsville Track. The track was soft after a couple of days of heavy rain and driver Richard was forced to wait at Mungerannie Hotel until the track reopened and dried out. We finally received our supplies and the Krakka Koldee Racing team hit the road as soon as they were unpacked.


Emergency landing. Photo courtesy the Outback Loop

The Finke Desert Race is an annual 460-kilometre race from Alice Springs to the remote community of Finke and back, along the old Ghan line. This year, there were over 80 buggies and cars competing, as well as almost 600 motorbikes and quads. We were one of 8 Pro-Lite buggies in the race.

Unfortunately, though, a broken rear stub axle and engine problems forced us to withdraw from the race during prologue on the Saturday. We’re now working hard to get the buggy back into shape for the next race. Keep an eye out for Kelly’s Finke coverage in the next issue of Outback Magazine for more information on the race.


The Krakka Koldee driver and navigator team

While we were at Finke, the Birdsville Photography Group held an opening night for their ‘On The Land’ exhibition. Prizes were awarded for the best photographs and all attendees reported having a lovely evening. We saw the exhibition at the Wirrarri Information Centre on our return and were amazed by the high quality of all of the photos. It really is a visual reminder of why we love living in Birdsville.

On Friday, the Birdsville State School P&C committee held their monthly bingo night, which was enjoyed by all and next weekend the Birdsville Social Club is holding their annual horse and motorbike gymkhana. The Krakka Koldee Racing Team might even be demonstrating the speed of their ultra-reliable 1300cc Suzuki-powered buggy on the bike enduro track over the weekend.


Birdsville State School students and staff

Lastly, there’s only a week until Jenna Brook sets off on her ‘Long Walk Home’. As we’re now official sponsors, we can officially recommend that you donate to her walk, which supports the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Phew, we’ve seen a lot of action in the past few weeks! Birdsville may be a small town, but life is certainly eventful. 


Owen Davies in Birdsville. Keep an eye out for Kelly’s article about Owen in the next edition of Outback Magazine.

Birdsville Bronco Branding and Campdraft


Clouds of dust rise from the ground as the group of cattle move restlessly around the yard. A voice over the loudspeaker announces the name of the next team and a group of people emerges from the crowd, ropes at the ready. One, wearing spurs, mounts a horse and begins circling the yard, searching for an unmarked beast to ‘brand’ with paint.

Welcome to Birdsville’s annual Bronco Branding competition. Teams compete to be the quickest to brand the required number of cattle using the traditional method of branding in the bush.

Before the invention of the calf cradle, stockmen were required to brand calves in the open. They held the mob together while a catcher, often the head stockman, rode into the group on his horse and roped an unbranded calf, pulling it to the bronco ramp. It would then be secured to the ground, branded and ear-clipped and released into the mob within a minute.

This process was used on most large stations until the late sixties. However, it all but disappeared until the mid-80s, when fore-thinking traditionalists launched a competitive form of the practice so the skills didn’t disappear. Today, events are held throughout the country with a number of variations designed to increase competitiveness, spectator entertainment and recognition of tradition.

In Birdsville, Bronco Branding is one of the years’ biggest and most anticipated events. This year, the weekend’s program also includes a day of Campdrafting, a similarly traditional and unique competition inspired by Australian bush skills of the past. A selection of events that demonstrate the competitors’ handling of cattle, campdrafting is a test of dexterity, riding and rope work that enthralls audiences.

However, when the sun falls below the horizon and floodlights illuminate the arena, it’s the coloured gates in the yard that attract the crowd’s attention. It’s rodeo time and the announcer is looking for entrants. With a number of events held over the course of the evening, the rodeo brings more of a western tang to the weekend.

With an arm in the air, cowboys and girls ride bucking bulls and bullocks while kids ride poddies, gleaming triumphant. The crowd watches on, leaning on the fence, cheering and filming. 

Later, country music blares from the speakers and floodlights illuminate the clouds of dust rising from the open space of ground where people of all ages are dancing, can of XXXX in hand. Everyone is jubilant, tired and quite a few are nursing swelling bruises – the rodeo has just finished and now it’s time to celebrate.

This year’s Bronco Branding weekend is almost here and already we’re waiting with anticipation. Beginning with an auction on the evening of Friday 11th May, the Campdraft will be held on Saturday 12th May, followed by the rodeo that evening. Bronco branding will take place on Sunday 13th May.

With a total prize pool of over $17,000, as well as trophies and ribbons, it’s sure to be a weekend of exhilarating competition and an educational look into the history of Australian agriculture.

Let us know if you would like more information about the events or if you are interested in sponsoring the weekend.

Don’t forget that voting is still open for the Best Australian Blogs Competition that we’re nominated for. Help us get Birdsville on the map!

The Birdsville Roadhouse experiments with blogging!

Welcome to the first post of the Birdsville Roadhouse’s new blog. We’re hoping to regularly update this page with news about Birdsville, the Krakka Koldee Racing Team, our staff, events, new stock, desert and outback road conditions and general titbits of interest. 

This year is shaping up to be quite exciting in Birdsville. We have a number of events already planned including rodeos, bronco branding and a camp draft. Birdsville local and our close friend, Jenna Brook, will be walking across the Simpson Desert in June to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and we’re following her fundraising and preparations with anticipation. Sam and Kelly will also be crossing the desert but in a 1964 VW Beetle that they named ‘Onslo’, which is fitting as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the first vehicle crossing of the desert. That car was a Nissan Patrol and Nissan is planning a huge celebration here in July. Of course, there will be the annual Birdsville Races, which gets a little bit bigger each year.

We’ve updated our website with more information about the town, surrounding areas, events and travel tips. But, if you’re planning your trip and discover any questions, we’d love you to contact us. If you’ve been here before, we’ll soon be launching a gallery for travellers’ best desert 4×4 and Birdsville photos, and maybe even a competition or two. 

The Birdsville Track is currently open and we’ve had a few travellers throughout the week, including a group of bikers on their way south. This coming Sunday we’ll be hosting a BBQ at the Roadhouse to raise money for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. If you’d like to donate but can’t make it here for a snag, head to Kathy’s MS QLD fundraising page

Wherever you are, we hope you are well and look forward to keeping in touch over the year. Here is last night’s sunset, taken from the centre of town. Are sunsets everywhere this pretty, or is it just the outback?