Mount Garnet is a town of a little over 400, in terms of population. Mount Garnet is a small town in north-eastern Queensland, Australia at the south-western edge of the Atherton Tableland and on the Kennedy Highway. Mount Garnet is about a three-hour drive from Cairns. Every year this town plays host to thousands of visitors from all over Queensland and the region who arrive for their annual racing and rodeo weekend. The Mount Garnet racing carnival is held over three days, traditionally on the May Day long weekend, two days of racing and one of rodeo, and the weekend is marked by the red dust surrounding the racetrack and rodeo grounds.
The camp grounds, where many visitors are housed, are situated right next to the racetrack, rodeo and golf course. These camps are the lifeblood of the weekend, and provide an atmosphere that the rest of the crowd feed off.
The Mt Garnet Race Track
The Mt Garnet race track itself, barely more than 1400m in circumference, is an intimate course where there is no need for binoculars. Uninterrupted views across the course are helped with the fact that the inner area of the track is the golf course. A tin roofed betting area, and a twenty row grandstand are the only major infrastructure at the track, this contributes to the atmosphere and the intimacy of country horse racing.
There are three major horse races competed for over the weekends’ festivities. The main race, the Mt Garnet Cup, is run over 1350m. There is some controversy regarding this distance since many horse racing fundi’s and trainers believe a cup event should be for stayers and therefore at least 1600 metres. The second important race is the ‘Bracelet’, a race for the sprinters over 1000m, and finally the Gunawarra Shield, a class 4 race also over 1350m that has the historical twist that it was first run in 1947.
Horseracing in Australia
The sport of kings, and the equestrian delight that is horseracing, has been part of human society for thousands of years. Recorded by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, publically enjoyed by the Babylonians and Romans, horses and humans’ destinies are certainly entwined. Never is this experienced more acutely that at these entertaining horse-based festivals in the Australian countryside. Originally, obviously, part of the development of warriors’ skill on horseback, the sport of horseracing and the complementary pastime of horse betting and rodeos is extremely popular and thoroughly enjoyed by all modern day societies. Mt Garnet, the Mt Garnet Cup and the broader Racing Festival are proof of the lingering relationship humans have with horses.
The modernization of horse racing, such as internet access, TAB and Sky racing events, has kept it relevant and made it an interest for punters around the world. Nowadays the industry is booming in Australia, where bookmakers and sports books provide a comprehensive, and safe betting experience. More and more of these country festival events and the associated and popular horse races are accessible via internet, and betting on horse races can be conducted from the comfort of home.