Sport

Dirt and Dust triathlon is unforgettable fun

TESTING TRIP: The ride back to Julia Creek is traditionally a testing journey into a hot head wind as part of the annual Dirt N Dust Triathlon.
TESTING TRIP: The ride back to Julia Creek is traditionally a testing journey into a hot head wind as part of the annual Dirt N Dust Triathlon. Contributed

Smacked in the face by a persistent headwind, the landscape appears endless.
Reverberations from the coarse bitumen are felt up the handlebars, with some relief from the countless snaking repairs across the road.

Only the most hardy cattle graze this country.

This is unforgiving country.

And this is an unforgiving sprint triathlon. It's also one of the most unusual locations to find the sprint distance challenge over three disciplines.

Julia Creek sits in the heart of the Outback. About 300km from Mt Isa, it's hot and dusty.

Every April, the town of about 600 people swells into the thousands for the annual triathlon, which is part of the weekend-long Dirt N Dust Festival - and it's awesome fun.

While the distances of an 800m swim, 25km ride and 5km run don't intimidate the seasoned athletes, the conditions do. Sweltering temperatures make this among the toughest of sprint triathlon tests.

Competitors of varying experience, age and fitness face the challenge each year.

Impressive prizemoney also helps lure some big names, who gun for the $2500 open category winner's cheque.

Generous rewards also exist for the age group and teams that place in their sections. Getting on to the podium takes some ticker.

Athletes begin their day in the heart of Julia Creek, where bikes are loaded on to a cattle truck for transport to the start - 20km away at Eastern Creek. Competitors and spectators follow on buses and the usually serene tributary becomes a thriving thoroughfare.

The creek is surprisingly cold for its origins. After this year's recent rains the temperature plummeted to about 18 degrees.

Swimmers head downstream through the murky water before rounding a buoy and heading back to the bridge, which was lined with spectators at the gun.

Once back on the bank, the real challenge begins. The ride back to Julia Creek is tough, challenging and arduous.
Each year, a prevailing headwind, combined with rising temperatures, has the ability to exhaust the strongest of cycling legs.

Sighting the Julia Creek water tower is a sign that the battle is almost won, and after a quick loop through town, the next encounter begins.

Three laps of the main street complete the race. Getting the job done is a struggle against the elements.
Heat rises from the bitumen and the only relief comes from the volunteers handing out water and wet rags along the journey.

There's a brilliant atmosphere in the Julia Creek main street to help get you through. Cheering, whistling, and even the odd singing cowboy on a guitar all help make the Dirt N Dust an unforgettable experience.

And to celebrate getting the job done, you can head to the races.

But it doesn't stop there. As the sun sinks and the dust settles, the town comes alive with a bull ride and after-party.
■ The writer was a guest of Tourism Queensland.

Motels and villa accommodation is available in town, and packages are also available to stay in "Tent City" at the caravan park. Visit www.queenslandholidays.com.au.

More information at http://www.dirtndust.com.au.

More on the Dirt N Dust festival.

Topics:  multisport, triathlon




Caught on camera: taxi driver fights off armed teen

Warwick police are hunting a young man after an attempted armed robbery tonight

Armed robber pulls knife, demands cash

Dance the night away

SWING AWAY: Warwick Salvation Army Lieutenants Lydia and Steve Spencer are excited for their night of swing.

Salvation Army set to raise the roof with 30s swing.

Darling Downs teen's death not suspicious: police

Police generic, crime scene.  Photo Tessa Mapstone / South Burnett Times

Darling Downs family shattered by young boy's sudden death

Latest deals and offers

Babylon 5's Jerry Doyle has died

Jerry Doyle has died from unknown causes at the age of 60

Mum driver heroically ignores hilarious lip-syncing son

Hilarious moves while Mum concentrates on the road.

IF IT takes a village to raise a child, why aren't they driving?

Twitter adds dancing David Brent emoji

Ricky Gervais's character has its own emoji now

Cyndi Lauper opens up about mother's dementia

Cyndi Lauper says her mother Catrine has "a little dementia".

Lindsay Lohan 'calls off engagement'

Lohan reportedly called off her engagement to Russian millionaire

Rob Kardashian 'neglected' by Blac Chyna

Friends say they are now 'back in love'

You can own this Queensland town for just $1

Yelarbon

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

72-year-old Coast developer set to start new project

GREEN LIGHT: The Cosmopolitan has been approved for development at Cotton Tree.

Meet the Canberran set to deliver another chapter for Coast suburb

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

The climb is slow but property on the way up

Michael Matusik, director of Matusik Property Insights.Photo Allan Reinikka / The Morning Bulletin

The improvement would be mild when compared to past cycles