The Camel Cup is held in Alice springs in July each year and attracts people from across the world. It is a quirky tribute to those animals often referred to as ‘ships of the desert’ that assisted early Europeans to open up the interior of Australia. Unfortunately, the wild camel (Camelus dromedarius) population now poses a real threat due to escalation of numbers to the inland environment. camels feed on more than 80% of the available plant species. The impacts of camels on vegetation are serious and evident in where camels occur at densities greater than 2 animals per km2, which is the case throughout much of the Northern Territory.
Anyway, back the Cup. The first race in 1970 took place in the dry Todd River between two Lions club members, and then became a part of the Alice Springs Centenary Year Celebrations.
The beasts are not short on grumpy personalities and racing them is not that easy for riders and handlers but fantastic fun for spectators. The camel cup always has lots of action in between the races, with Belly dancers, rickshaw races, ‘Kids Kamel Kapers’ hobby camel races, and rides for those who wish to experience the rollicking motion when sitting astride on a camel., There is of course Mr and Miss Camel Cup challenges, some great food stalls and bars flowing with beer that adds to the carnival atmosphere. The camel cup takes over Blatherskite Park, a section of the Central Australian Show Society grounds.
More information is available on the dedicated ‘Cup’ website.