Aussies love their beaches. And they love their sport. So any chance to combine the two will be taken.
The Mackay beach horse races are this tropical north towns answer to the famous Melbourne cup, but with a Queensland twist.
Like the Melbourne cup everyone dresses up in their finest. Men get out their collared shirts and the ladies pin all sorts of feather and lace in their hair – just like the Melbourne cup – except that footwear is optional. Ever wanted to wear a cocktail dress with flip flops, or a suit jacket with board shorts? Well now you can!
There were so many varieties of the “fancy casual” dress code to be seen at the races. Hawaiian patterned men’s suit? A staple of every self respecting mans wardrobe. Funny hat? Wear it if you’ve got it.
But like the Melbourne cup, there is more to the event than who wore what (barely). I mean we are there to watch athletes compete right?
It takes a lot of work to get to the level of the Mackay Beach Race. Trainers and their horses spend long days of grueling practice and training to achieve athletic perfection. Just kidding, all you need to do is register in time and pay the fee. Your fame seeking horse doesn’t even need to be a Thoroughbred either – at least half the races on the bill are open to any breed of horse, or combination of breeds.
Leave it to this quirky mining community to take a serious and highly pretentious sport and “Queenslandize” it. So get your thongs on (flip flops), grab a glass of champagne and set your bets on the next Mackay beach race.
We flew up to Mackay with Tigerair, who run budget direct flights from Melbourne to Mackay. Mackay is more than the home of the quirky horse races, it’s also the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands as well as some fantastic local attractions – but more on that later this week.