We know you’ve all been on countless beach and city breaks, but how often do you head inwards when taking off for a weekend away? These superb country races provide the perfect opportunity to experience the thrill of racing country style one day, and a relaxing country break the next.
New South Wales
St Patrick’s Race Day, Broken Hill NSW
Saturday 18 March 2017 | More info
St Patrick’s Race Day (or week moreover) is a big drawcard for the mining town of Broken Hill, with many locals and visitors descending on the town for the occasion. There are multiple packages and picnic options available for race day, a Fashions on the Field competition and a fashion and talent show. Also, how often do you get to see horses race on a dirt track in the stunning Aussie outback?
If you haven’t been to Broken Hill before, use this as the perfect excuse to make the most of that, and take the (very long) drive across New South Wales for the occasion. You will spot countless emus on the drive out (and a heck load of feral goats), and glimpse the endless straight highway ahead that disappears tens of kilometres into the shimmering distance. If you’ve never done it before, it will probably dawn on you for probably the first time in real terms just how huge New South Wales is.
Broken Hill has plenty to do and you’ll want to make your trip out there worth it, so be sure to allow yourself two days in addition to race day at the minimum. Drive to the top of the Slag Heap for a view of a truly breathtaking sunset, and call in to the famous Palace Hotel (where Priscilla Queen of the Desert was filmed). Visit the town of Silverton for a drink at the iconic Silverton Hotel, then take the short drive to the incredible Mundi Mundi lookout (Mad Max 2 was filmed on the road here) and appreciate the mind warping endlessness of the sunburnt land rolling into infinity. If you’re feeling brave, join a tour of the Historic Daydream Mine for an eye-opening experience of the horrific conditions endured by miners in the late 1800s. The Living Desert Sculptures are worth a visit, as are the many art galleries Broken Hill is known for. As far as food goes, The Silly Goat is a trendy spot for quality breakfasts, lunch and coffee, and there’s plenty of others to discover while you’re in the neighborhood.
Image credit: Visit NSW.
The Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup, Albury NSW
Friday 24 March 2017 | More info
The Commercial Club Albury Gold Cup Carnival is a big date on the New South Wales country racing calendar, and with locals being given the afternoon off to enjoy the festivities crowds often soar towards the 20k mark. With this many people converging on the racecourse, the town buzzes with energy and excitement. Join them in the fun for some high class racing, and check out their awesome town while you’re there.
You can stay in a gorgeous country bed and breakfast, or try one of the many well-priced motels. On the Saturday after your Friday race day shenanigans, grab your morning coffee hit and hangover cure brekkie from one of the locals’ favourite cafes, Mr Benedict or The Proprietor. Wander through the streets of town and check out the beautiful historic architecture, then continue your wandering into the picturesque Botanic Gardens. From there, ascend the slope to Monument Hill where you can get a nice view of the town and pay your respects to the fallen. For the afternoon, hire a canoe and spend the rest of your day exploring the tranquil Murray River – a must do while in Albury. Top off your perfect day with dinner at The River Deck restaurant, with a view overlooking the banks of the Murray and rave-reviewed cuisine.
Wagga Wagga Gold Cup Carnival, Wagga Wagga NSW
Thursday 4 May to Friday 5 May 2017 | More info
The Wagga Wagga Gold Cup Carnival is another big event in the world of NSW racing worth talking about. It falls the weekend prior to the Scone Cup Carnival, so unfortunately you might have to pick just one unless you’re swimming in leave (let’s face it, no one is and we have to try to get to the Philippines this year). Wagga Wagga Gold Cup Day on the Friday includes a Fashions on the Field comp and plenty of other offerings to get excited about (such as a champagne bar… mmm champagne).
AirBnB Wagga abounds with gorgeous houses or apartments that can be yours for the entire weekend. Visit The Pot ‘n’ Kettle Coffee House for a five star flat white and divine ricotta crepes, then head to the Botanic Gardens for some up-close flora and fauna (it includes a zoo). For lunch, pack a picnic and take a drive to the picturesque Borambola Wines cellar door for a relaxed lunch and wine tasting. Or, if beer’s more your thing hit up Beer Deluxe or Thirsty Crow Brewery where you’ll be in hops heaven. As far as the dining scene goes, you’re spoilt for choice with everything from fine dining (Magpies Nest is recommended) to plenty of excellent Thai restaurants for something more casual.
The Darley Scone Cup Carnival, Scone NSW
Friday 12 May to Saturday 13 May 2017 | More info
The Scone Cup Carnival is most prestigious event in NSW country racing, having prize money of $2 million across the two days of racing and attracting the best of the industry from far and wide. If there’s one country racing festival that is sure to turn it on, Scone Cup Carnival is it. The event has many marquee and hospitality package options to suit all tastes, and there is a Myer Fashions on the Field contest worth dolling up for.
Scone is the home of many thoroughbred horse studs, and you’ll see many homages to the town’s love of the four-legged beasts as you drive through the main street (Scone isn’t called the horse capital of Australia for nothing). For accomm, you have your pick of lush cottages, bed and breakfasts, and country retreats. While you’re there, play nine holes at Scone Golf Club, or get on horseback yourself at Chapman Valley Horse Riding. Breathe in the fresh country air, and the heavenly scent of eucalyptus as you take the Burning Mountain walk through the rugged landscape (and experience the unusual sensation of knowing there’s 5000 and-something-year-old coal fire burning deep below your feet). For dinner try The Cottage for excellent fine dining, or The Belmore Hotel for a classic country pub meal.
Can’t make it out to any of these awesome country racing events? Your capital city has you covered this autumn.