Club Spotlight: Quilpie

To get to a race meeting at the Quilpie Diggers' Race Club, it is effectively the end of the road.

While there are further western racetracks in Queensland - including Birdsville and Betoota in the Central West region of the state - Quilpie is the last based on a sealed bitumen road in the region.

Located in the Downs region for racing in Queensland, Quilpie has a population of around 600.

"We are the furthest race meeting west until you get to Birdsville or Betoota on the road from Brisbane," Club president Sam Bartlett explains.

"We are the last racetrack on the bitumen I suppose, the dirt road starts after Windorah out that way."

Charleville trainer Mark Johnstone is a regular visitor to Quilpie.

"It is pretty much the end of the bitumen…out on the back blocks," Johnstone said.

With the Quilpie Diggers' Race Club comes a recently redeveloped racetrack and facilities, but within the town there are no active stables.

There is one licensed trainer, but he no longer has any gallopers in work.

When they do race, which is once a year, trainers and horses travel from all around the area and even from across the border in NSW.

Johnstone, whose yard is in-form of late – recently lifting the Noorama Cup - described Quilpie as a tight turning track which benefits front runners with the dust and dirt providing backmarkers with plenty of kick-back.

The stalwart of racing in the area has been going to Quilpie for more than two decades to race his team.

"When we go out there, they have one the best possible set-ups you could get out in our area," Johnstone said.

"For what they do for once a year, gee whiz it is impressive.

"They have done a good job, they have a good committee and whenever we race there, they certainly look after you."

Bartlett, who has been on the Club's committee for many years and was around four years ago elevated to president, is proud of what his volunteer-led club have been able to achieve.

"We have a lot of fun as a club, it is an event that brings the community together, it is one of the bigger social events of the year for our area," Bartlett said.

"We take pride in doing a good job and have a fun day.

"We worked closely with the Council about five years ago to do up our facilities, they are great.

"We get comments great every year about how good our facilities are, with all the boxes for race day staff air conditioned, the people just love coming back every year.

"It is pretty flash our little track."

Racing and Sports