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Dora The Explorer
6th Jan 2007
Dederang Picnic Races

So we stopped off on Friday night at a motel in Beechworh (3 hours from Melbourne).
'Beechworth is one of Victoria's best-preserved gold rush towns. Four million ounces of gold were officially mined in 1852, when thousands of hopefuls rushed to the gold fields in search of their fortunes. The prosperity generated by Beechworth gold has left an admirable legacy for today's visitors. Dederang nestles in the picturesque Kiewa Valley, about half an hour south of Albury-Wodonga on the Bright route to the Victorian snowfields. '

After a refreshing swim in the unheated swimming pool we set off to Dederang.

'The Kiewa River, which runs through the valley, provides some of the most challenging and rewarding trout fishing in the region. Anglers and scenic sightseers, however, are warned to keep a wary eye out in the early morning and evening for dairy herds making their way to the milking sheds. Hollywood megastar Mel Gibson once used to recharge his batteries in this valley hideaway. Dederang packs the visitors in with its annual New Year’s Day picnic races which are held on a track where the horses momentarily disappear from the crowd’s view .Even more popular is the once-a-year competition to decide Australia’s gumboot-throwing champion. The Falls Creek ski resort lies 35km into the Snowy Mountains from Mount Beauty at the head of the valley which Dederang also shares with the townships of Kergunyah, Gundowring and Tawonga.'

What a laugh this weekend was - its the closest I've been yet to RedNecksville in America without actually entering the USA. Everyone was wearing cowboy hats and boots, drinking bottled beer and thowing women over their shoudlers (only joking on that one). But so glad to have been to a 'Bush Race' as I dont think I've would have encountered anything like that had I not known an horse-racing aussie.

Basically how it works over here is that virtually everyone in the country owns horses so there is no 'class ' system as like in the UK. Horsey people arent associated with poshness. Patrick and his mates are in a consortium of 8 guys who randomly buy horses maybe every year which they employ a trainer and a jockey to race at weekly/monthly meets up and down Victoria.

'About Due' was the new hopeful, quickest in the heats and coming in at 17 hands a big boy ready to use his power in the last cup race of the day. The boys were fired up having heard great things about his firey temper having even installed rubber along the metal of the pen to stop him kicking out and injuring himself. They were a little concerned however that he appeared unusally docile before the start of the race and far too calm given his temperament.

Alas 'About Due' was about last... They were many theories about this:

1) the fella had been drugged in the morning by the trainer
2) the new female jockey was being romanced by the rival competitors jockey who told her to lose the race.

Who knows! However the boys were gutted especially after the large sums of $$ betted half hour earlier - more drinking and debauchery aided the pain of such a windfall loss.

The best part for me aside from leaving the flies and dreadful heat behind was the annual 'dog-jumping' competition. At one point one guy was being led around by the neck by his mate trying to enter the working dog category.

We stayed at the Goonan Boys (4 parts of the consortium) parents farm - 75 of us split up into 15 tents scattered around the land. It was like Carry on Camping. Our tent got nicknamed 'The Marquee' due to the size (6 berth special offer), it was the party tent.

After a huge spit-roast BBQ we walked down to the local and only pub in Dederang -a 20 minute walk down the only main road (dirt) to where 1200 pissed race goers where drinking the bar dry and moshing to the pub band called "Toss". Hilarious. Moonee pulling and crowd surfing were de riguer in the Dederang Hotel pub. Got back and passed out to the sights of tall people in small tents with heads and feet sticking out either end.

We had torrential rain that night-which was great for the Level 4 droughts of Victoria but terrible for us camping on a field.

Next: Treacherous Jouney Home!
Previous: New Years Eve- Yarra Valley Healesville Brooklyn Hall and Ballarat

Diary Photos

Dederang Bush Races

Dederang Bush Races

Dederang Bush Races

Dederang Bush Races 'About Due'

'About Due'

'About Due' & her consortium of owners

About Due

The Dederang Gang

Dog Jumping

Dog Jumping

Dog Jumping

Dog Jumping

S&M is bigger than we thought!!

Joe Cool

Dog Jumping

Outside the 'Marquee'

Outside the 'Marquee'

Outside the 'Marquee'

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