It was a weekend for the record books when hundreds of people flocked to the Oakley Amateur Picnic Race Club, situated at Kooroorinya, south of Prairie, last Friday and Saturday to celebrate 100 years of racing at the venue.
Stories abounded as families settled in to huts that have seen generations of friendly rivalry and country hospitality, from the days when horses were walked in from properties hundreds of kilometres away and all activities were conducted under canvas.
One of those was trainer Tracy Leake, whose family colours have been racing continually at Kooroorinya for over 80 years.
She was happily carrying on the tradition set by her grandfather and father, and was one of the 600 people catered for, for the centenary dinner taking place at the conclusion of two days of racing.
That was on top of 400 for breakfast that morning, and similar numbers the day before, all taking place 65 kilometres south of Prairie, outside of mobile phone access.
It was a huge undertaking for caterers Cuisine to Go, based in Townsville, who spent months organising meal ingredients and quantities, the equipment to cook with, refrigeration, and transportation.
Their 10 staff travelled out in stages over three days, ensuring a back-up plan was in place for the things that were left behind.
In this case it was rice and gravy.
It’s the third time the company has catered at Kooroorinya, and head chef Sharon Cameron said they came back because of the wonderful community they worked with.
As well as two full days of racing, there were plenty of opportunities to celebrate all that is good about grassfed racing in the bush.
K100 – written by Paul Martinez
There’s a picnic race meet yearly, down past Prairie way
Where every sort of person becomes different for a day
They call it Kooroorinya, even Oakley to a few
It’s a true blue Aussie outing, sometimes a bit askew
So here’s the place, with plenty of space
Close to a part-time river
Where donkeys go at their own warm pace
So shower time has no shiver
As part of the plan to improve the land
Dancing and dining halls were built
With shady trees, the ladies to please
Essential cover, like a Scotsman’s kilt
Lesser mortals would be in tears, providing tucker for 100 years
But community puts hunger in her place
With tea from hot billies, and cold drinks to make you silly
Enough to create much fun, but rarely any disgrace
Committees with all their gear count more than countless beers
Soon outback yards appear with a judge’s shack
From time to time the Almighty blesses things unsightly
With drenching rain to green a dried out track
Few aeroplanes can glory or revel in the story
Of landing on a grassfed racing straight
Nor scenes of kids’ delight, spurred on by such a flight
Every lolly contested with every mate
Then there’s owners and there’s trainers, jockeys and fence strainers
They put on this outsized picnic where all gather round to meet
A rolling start to show, when fine horses have to go
Their fastest, a stop-watch judge to be the first to greet
Remember, there’s a starter, very much a martyr
With many many others of his ilk
They put the show on yearly, with time and effort weary
So we all think it goes as smooth as silk
This story has no end, because at every bend
There is always another stanza to include
The gauntlet is thrown to you, to add a verse or two
After that which happens now, which is conclude.