Dry ar­gu­ment can’t spoil a great time

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - DIRT AND DUST -

There’s a spe­cial friendly flavour to this out­back event, even if the drought did put a re­verse damper on some of the ac­tiv­i­ties, writes Ali­son Cotes

IT’S not all beer and skit­tles way out west, al­though in de­fence of Ju­lia Creek I have to say there was plenty of beer. And the skit­tles were re­placed by bog-snorkelling, but that was for the fool­hardy only, I have to say.

I left it to the younger men, whose butts I had been ad­mir­ing and pri­vately judg­ing in the Butt-of-the-Year com­pe­ti­tion, as they flashed their Ly­cra all the way down the main street, and later in the ring, in colours that put even Tony Ab­bott to shame. (Why wasn’t he there? A photo-op if ever I saw one, al­though per­haps he couldn’t face up to the thought of de­feat in the budgie depart­ment.)

Never was a fes­ti­val bet­ter named than the an­nual Ju­lia Creek Dirt’n’Dust Fes­ti­val. The tem­per­a­ture usu­ally hov­ers around the 33C mark and, as in 2013 north­west­ern Queens­land was in the grip of drought, there wasn’t as much mud as usual – to the ex­tent that the swim­ming leg of the fa­mous triathlon was al­most called off, as there was so lit­tle wa­ter in the creek. But com­peti­tors were de­ter­mined to go ahead, even though it was hard to stay afloat in the halfme­tre of muddy wa­ter in East­ern Creek, and walk­ing was strictly for­bid­den. Their bikes were loaded on to a cat­tle truck, an en­ter­prise that took longer than the race, and, once they’d com­pleted the 800m swim, com­peti­tors (even­tu­ally) found their bikes and hot-ped­alled it the 20km back into town for a three-lap run around town.

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