The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere

Boulia – Camels and Red Dust

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At the end of the race

Like the title says – camels and red dust! What it doesn’t say is how windy it was, so the red dust got into everything. You could put your teeth together and crunch the dust – there was no escaping it. But let’s start at the beginning and see some of the countryside between Mt Isa and Boulia. It is just over 300kms, with the town of Dajarra half way.


Mt Isa to Boulia road – the Diamantina Development Road


Closer to Mt Isa – rocky outcrops


Spectacular colours in the rocks


Some of the hills looked like they were snow-capped with their limestone deposits.


Loved this tree!

The countryside changed as I drove further away from Mt Isa and it flattened out to spinifex plains with low scrubby trees.


Dajarra is a little outpost half-way between Mt Isa and Boulia. It is hard to believe that it was once the biggest cattle trucking centre in the world. Drovers would bring cattle from as far away as Western Australia to put them on the train at Dajarra, which was the end of the line for Queensland’s northern outback railway system. The last train came to Dajarra in 1988 and now Dajarra basically consists of a school, a general store and of course, a pub!


Dajarra – main street

These signs along the road indicate the names of the properties and tell you how far to go off the road and into the property to get to the homestead.


Another 150kms to go and I arrived in Boulia, where I stopped at the Information Centre to find out where I could camp for the camel races. Well, it was right beside the track and opposite the camel yards.


While I was setting up camp I met a couple of people – Col and Sharna, and Col helped me put up my annexe and then asked if I wanted to go into town that night for the dance at the local hall. Well, the dance was a bit slow starting so we went to the pub for tea and then back to camp.

Both Col and Sharna are solo travellers, too. Sharna did 17,000kms last year alone and has been travelling with her little dog for many years. Col has also been travelling for a long time but only the last 4 years alone.

How amazing is this! Col was born on the same day, same month and same year as me! He’s my twin! I asked a young girl to take this photo of us and told her why and it turns out she works for the ABC, so she then interviewed us about this co-incidence and took our photos for her story as well.


Col, my ‘twin’, and me.

On Saturday they had all the heats of the camel races for the big Boulia Cup on Sunday. Camels look really snooty, with their noses in the air. I’d kill for their eyelashes, though.


This camel, Chief, won the heats in record time and then went on to win the Boulia Cup the next day. It’s owner and jockey was a lady called Glenda, who just loved her camels and cuddled and kissed them, which is why the blokes with camels reckoned she always won. You’d think they’d learn from her, wouldn’t you?


After the heats had been run they had this crazy competition called camel tagging. The young camels, under 2 years old, were let into an arena and mad people bought the right to put some sticky duct tape on them then try and get it off. Camels can kick in all directions and they all demonstrated their ability to do this, with several contenders getting a good kick in the ribs, one in the nose and one in a much more painful place. I thought the camels looked like they were doing the Argentinian Tango the way their legs flipped out every which way.


Camel Tagging

Sunday was the final of the Boulia Cup, run over 1500 metres, the longest race of the weekend, and as I said before, Chief was the winner.

After the final there was also a wood chopping competition and a motor bike riding demonstration, but I’d had enough dust by then so I holed up in my campervan and wrote a couple of poems that had been in my mind. This is my Boulia Camel Races poem.

When I went to the Boulia camel races,I met Col and Sharna there

They were great company for the weekend and we’ll meet again somewhere

For Sharna’s always on the move and Col likes to travel too,

And when I finish my stint in Isa, I’ll be back on the road anew.

And somewhere around Australia we’ll meet up again once more

Probably not at camel races – perhaps upon some shore

Or outback in the red dust land, or over in the west

Or down south around Tasmania, or at some roadside rest.

But wherever we meet up again we’ll enjoy each other’s company

And chat about the spots we’ve found and which are the best to see.

It’s one of the joys of travelling, making new friends on the way.

They touch your life with their journey as  you travel life’s highway.

I can’t leave Boulia without telling you about the Min Min Light. It is an unexplained phenomena of a bright light that follows travellers. It moves at high speed and comes and goes without explanation. You can read more about it here.


At last – I’ve seen some brolgas close up. Here they are walking down the main street of Boulia.


And you’ve heard of the Black Stump – well in Boulia they have the Red Stump, so I had to share this with you. I loved the thought of coming out the other side…


As it turned out, I came out back in Mt Isa, safe and sound.

My next adventure is into the Northern Territory at Avon Downs for their annual cricket match. I might be outback, but I’m certainly right into life!

Author: The Snail Trail

I’m a nomad who loves travelling Australia in my old campervan, Brutus the Beast, seeing amazing places and meeting fellow travellers.

One thought on “Boulia – Camels and Red Dust

  1. Fantastic. Love the rocky outcrops, what amazing countryside!


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