Campaign invites travellers to the outback's events
FANCY racing a decorated dunny around a 200-metre track in the country?
What about a hitching a ride with a gossiping postman to deliver mail to isolated cattle and sheep stations?
For some country men and women, these unusual activities are all in a day's work helping tourists experience the weird and wonderful out west.
Twenty-two years ago Robyn Stephens was tossing up ideas to attract people to the Outback Festival in the western Queensland town of Winton, north west of Longreach, when she remembered a quintessential outback icon.
"The outhouse is synonymous with the bush," the Outback Festival co-ordinator said.
"We are in the outback and we wanted to do something that was really quirky and unique. So we said 'Let's stick these things on wheels and race them'."
The race, to be held in September as part of the five-day Winton Outback Festival, is now crowned the Australian Dunny Derby.
It involves 20 teams of five people and their decorated toilet in a race, collecting gimmicks - including a toilet brush, paper or newspaper - along the way before whizzing to the finish line.
"They have to build a racing loo which has three sides and a roof and no front door because nothing is private," Mrs Stephens laughed.
The winners progress to the final round while the losers drop into the "constipation stakes".
Mrs Stephens said the race's popularity has sky rocketed in recent years. "We always say the locals are hot to trot but we do have now a lot of people interested in this event because it has created so much fun," she said.
Tourism and Events Queensland on Friday officially launched the Outback Eventures Campaign, inviting potential travellers to shape their journeys around the outback's more than 200 annual and bi-annual events.
Quilpie resident Troy Minnett also offers a slice of the Queensland outback but of a different kind.
The Channel Country Caravan Park owner's family has operated mail runs in the area since the late 1800s.
Today's mail run covers a dusty, isolated 400km loop dropping correspondence to about 10 cattle and sheep stations.
But tourists have only recently jumped on board for the mail run, which comes complete with postman gossip and invites from the mail respondents for a cup of tea.
"They go on roads they wouldn't normally go on because they have no reason to and they get the chance to meet some locals who are on the properties and they see how the outback works," Mr Minnett said of the tourists' experience.
"These people wanted to see that and connect with the locals as well. The postie brings the gossip; they don't like it if you don't bring the gossip.
"In the dry times you have to be a psychologist."
Mr Minnett also operates the Birdsville Caravan Park, a facility that teems with activity when the town's iconic races roll around each September.