June is the official start of winter here in Australia. In the Adelaide Hills, we have clear blue skies most days, with temperatures ranging between 5C (41F) and 15C (60F), with the potential of frost some mornings.
In my final book in the racing series, Racing Fate, we continue our adventure into the Australian Outback experiencing outback races and an encounter with Australia’s wild dog, the dingo. Dingoes in general avoid conflict with humans, however they are large enough to be dangerous.
My first experience of outback racing was at Marree, which lies some 600 kilometres (375 miles) north of Adelaide at the junction of the Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks. The racing, however, was unusual. Instead of horses, camels took to the track. I would have to say camel racing is quite crazy. From my observation, jockeys have little or no control over their mounts, and camels will or will not run, depending on how they feel at the time. Give me horses any day!
Along with Marree hosting camel racing, there are many outback racetracks, the most famous being the annual Birdsville races, followed by the Innamincka bush horse races.
Whether racing horses or camels, these events bring the Outback population together for a couple of days of fun and frivolity. You can only imagine some of the colourful characters you meet at these events.
I am familiar with the Innamincka area as we have spent many happy trips camping along the remote Cooper Creek. The township of Innimincka, if you can call it that, boasts a hotel, store, accommodation and 44 residents. It sits 820 kilometres (510 miles) northeast of Adelaide.
As always, I am happy to respond to questions about my books and my writing.
The months are slipping by. One minute we are celebrating Christmas and now Easter, and if, like many South Australians, you like attending a picnic race meeting, then the Oakbank Racecourse in the Adelaide Hills, is the place to be.
Oakbank holds many memories for me and was the perfect place to start Racing Dream, the first book in my racing series. We meet Annabel Martin at sixteen. What sixteen-year-old does not have dreams? Annabel’s is to win the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s famous annual thoroughbred horse race, the dream of every Australian jockey.
Annabel rides well but has done her apprenticeship around the show ring. To realize her dream, she needs to adapt her riding style and learn race strategy. She also needs to prove to Andy Jones, a renowned jockey, that she has grit.
Andy’s first impression of Annabel is that she is a spoilt rich girl. He soon learns there is more to her than her father’s money. He puts Annabel through her paces at Oakbank on a cold misty winter morning. Oakbank in winter can be cold, with temperatures sometimes dropping to zero degrees Celsius. So, riding trackwork at Oakbank is not for the faint-hearted. Andy’s excitement mounts as he realizes Annabel has what it takes to become a top-notch jockey. We also get a glimpse of James McKenzie at this time. He, too, has dreams and is quite taken when he meets the young Annabel. It’s a few more years before the two become further acquainted, and by then, they’re both chasing that Melbourne Cup dream. And so the scene is set for an adventure suspense story that will keep you reading.
It would be remiss of me not to give you a little history on Oakbank. Racing started in 1876 and hosts one of the world’s largest picnic race meets, the Easter Racing Carnival, which has historically been held on Easter Saturday and Monday. Oakbank is the home of steeplechasing and jumping in South Australia, which combines with flat racing over the festival. The famous Great Eastern Steeplechase is the highlight of the weekends racing and, in its heyday, has attracted crowds as large as 70,000.
Once you have journeyed with Annabel and James, book two, Racing Time, travels to the Australian Outback.
Contemporary adventure with