Harts Range: Four legs or three, it was on for young and old


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2568 Harts Range pic 3 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Jan Darcy from Mallapunyah Station on the Barkly Tablelands scooped the pool at the Harts Range Races on the weekend, winning all four events, the Stockmen’s Cup, the Pendant, the Selling Race and the Tom Cleary Classic.
The Selling Race harks back the start of the event 71 years ago, which gave all of the Territory its Picnic Day holiday.
It is still the race between pastoralists and police officers, starting in 1947 with a bet between the Webb Brothers and mounted constable Bob Darken.
Race weekend treasurer Liz Bird, from Indiana Station, says about 2000 people from around The Centre enjoyed great but sometimes windy weather.
2568 Harts Range pic 5 OKThe event’s social highlight was the Harts Range Dance – tie for gentlemen was mandatory.
There was a rodeo, with the arena shared with racing lizards, and a sports day “for town people who don’t have a horse”.
That included cow tail tossing, a sack race, tug of war and a three legged race (at top).
About 2000 people packed their swags – and next year is likely to be even bigger as the road from Alice Springs will be fully sealed.
Photos by NIKKI WESTOVER, Mob 0431 811 605   2567 Nikki Westover
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  1. Great coverage once again, Erwin, of a truly iconic event in The Centre.
    I have been a regular at Harts Range for the last four years. Last year I took my aunt, who was out here for the “Rollin’ Solo” event at Ross River. t
    This year I took two dear friends, Gavin and Julie, who despite being long-time locals, had never been before.
    They all agreed that it truly is a remarkable event, one where the kids did their own thing in relative safety, and where there was always something happening.
    As I said last year, it really is an opportunity to mix with people who make their living on the land, the dedicated ones who work from sun-up to sun-down, the people who are spoken about in poems, in songs and stories about this wide brown land and provide a living link to the pioneers who made this country what it is today.
    Although there is a dedicated committee that organizes the event every year, I got talking to two of the “public faces” of the event at the dance on Saturday night.
    One was the ground announcer, the other was the guy who bounces around the arena with the signs that tell the crowd if an eight second ride was achieved, and implores the crowd to cheer “like ya mean it!”.
    These two guys really give the event its own PC-free personality, one that keeps me coming back year after year.
    The one thing they both stressed to me was the need for helpers to keep the event going. Maybe members of local service clubs such as Rotary, Lions or APEX could be involved.
    The local 4WD club or Men’s Shed groups or similar could look at a camp out for their members in the weekends leading up to the event.
    I am not an official spokesperson for the event in any way, but when I said to these two guys that I wrote about the event last year in the Alice Springs News, they asked that if I was doing the same this year, could I push the fact that help is needed, which is the purpose of this letter.
    Can’t wait until next year!
    [ED – Hi Local, thank you, but most of the kudos for our coverage needs to go to photographer Nikki Westover!]


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