South Australia’s Outback Communities Authority collaborates with small, remote towns to help fund vital infrastructure and services.

Story By Nick Rains

It’s a familiar scene in almost any rural community: a large dusty paddock, a few tin sheds, rows of white Toyotas, swags rolled up on utes, expectant horses, a few happy dogs, lots of blokes in their best shirts and jeans, women dressed to the nines in dresses and hats, and a general air of good humour.
Most outback towns have a race weekend and Blinman, in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, is no exception. Blinman Gymkhana has been running almost continuously for 145 years, making it one of the longest-running events of its type in Australia. It is a genuine community event, managed by a small group of residents – about 10 out of the 50 who live in and around town.
Events such as this don’t exist in isolation. While the gymkhana is self-sustaining from fundraising as well as ticket and event entry, some of the racecourse infrastructure has benefited from external funding from the Outback Communities Authority (OCA). The remote settlements of South Australia don’t have local councils as in other states. What started off as a loose group of outback communities has evolved into a collection of local volunteer progress associations supported by OCA, which is administered out of Port Augusta.

This Story is from Issue #95

Outback Magazine: June/July 2014