RACETIME: Buxton local Peter Thompson is gearing up for a taste of outback adventure as he prepares to travel the Birdsville Races to volunteer.
RACETIME: Buxton local Peter Thompson is gearing up for a taste of outback adventure as he prepares to travel the Birdsville Races to volunteer. Contributed

Why Peter, 69, is packing up to go to Birdsville

FOR years Buxton's Peter Thompson lived in western Queensland.

He grew up in the bush and describes himself as a typical "bushie".

He lived within a few hour's drive of the famous Birdsville Races and always planned to go, but the timing was never right - until now.

"I always wondered what it would be like," Mr Thompson said.

"But I thought 'nah, bugger it'.

"You know what they say: when you have a mulberry bush in the backyard you don't eat mulberries."

Now at 69 years of age, he will be hitting the road for a 1880 kilometre journey of a lifetime to volunteer at the "Melbourne Cup of the outback".

The Birdsville Races is Australia's oldest and most remote thoroughbred racing carnival.

The two-day meet sees the small township - with a population of 115 - swell to around 7000 as racegoers flock from across Australia.

It was a snap decision after Mr Thompson heard on the radio that volunteers were needed for the event.

"A couple of weeks ago I heard they were looking for people, so I applied and got it," he said.

Mr Thompson said he didn't know what to expect as he packed his bags to leave the region tomorrow.

"I am going in blind," he said.

"I will be driving the bus around for them a little bit and Sunday is clean-up day."

The retired building contractor said he was used to hard work and expects the last day to be busy.

The event runs from August 31 to September 1 and this year will be the 136th race.

Not just a dusty good time in the bush, the races present an opportunity to give back to the community, with the event raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia - a vital charity that provides help to remote areas often cut off from medical services.

Organisers said Mr Thompson was a colourful character and one of the oldest volunteers at the races this year.

"Peter will be making the trek to the tiny town of the edge of Simpson Desert for the first time - putting his skills as a former carpenter and building contractor to good use," a spokesman said.

"Showing that you're never too old to get involved and give it a go, Peter will be getting her hands dirty working in the races' trackside pack-up and vehicle volunteer teams."