Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Racing at Booligal

Out on the vast Hay plains, nestled beside the Lachlan River, lies the tiny village of Booligal.

March 25, 2014 11:00am

Out on the vast Hay plains, nestled beside the Lachlan River, lies the tiny village of Booligal.

A courthouse, schoolhouse, pub and two churches remind visitors of a past built on the sheep’s back.

Once a thriving river crossing supporting more than 300 residents, the hamlet now boasts a population of just under 50 people.

Some know the village as the infamous township in the Banjo Paterson poem Hay, Hell and Booligal.

However since 1999, Booligal has put itself on the map for the annual Booligal Sheep Races.

Originally designed as an escape from an unrelenting drought, the event has turned into a source of pride for locals with more than $120000 being donated to local and national charities.

Which, organisers say, raises the question: does this make the residents of Booligal some of the most generous in Australia?

‘‘That is a title we would love to own,’’ said local farmer and Booligal Sheep Races treasurer Hugh McLean.

‘‘Each year we aim to donate about $10000 to charities — I suppose that makes about $200 per head of population per year,’’ Mr McLean said.

‘‘I am not sure what other towns manage, but we are pretty proud of that effort.

‘‘We have a small but dedicated committee who organise the event but everyone in town gets involved.

‘‘It is a great feeling to be able to give back to those organisations that really make a difference to people’s lives.

‘‘All we do is raise the funds — the great credit goes to organisations such as Can Assist and The Royal Flying Doctors who really have an impact on people’s lives.’’

The annual event involves 100 sheep racing in 20 heats over the course of the day. The winner takes home the prestigious Booligal Cup.

This year the event will be held on Saturday, April 12.

‘‘We are thrilled to have JBS Swift Australia on board this year. Their very generous support of the event means we will be able to provide significant donations to our charities,’’ Mr McLean said.

If you don’t have one handy, hire your own woolly Black Caviar to race for the day. There are also prizes for best decorated sheep, and lots of other family activities.

For more information go to

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