A colourful crowd of more than 350 locals, tourists and station people gathered for this year’s Innamincka Cup.

Story By Nathan Dyer

For veteran jockey Tereasa Hawkins the Innamincka Picnic Races are the jewel in the crown of South Australia’s bush-racing circuit.

“I’ve been riding horses since I was 11 years old and I’ve raced in every state of Australia,” says the Port Augusta hoop. “But the people here in Innamincka are always great, and it’s probably the best track on the circuit.”

It’s a sentiment shared by trainer Kelvin Johnson, who has been bringing horses to Innamincka for a decade. “This is what the bush is all about,” says Kelvin, who hails from Nepabunna community, near Leigh Creek, about 500 kilometres south-west of Innamincka. “You catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while and we come up on the Wednesday and have a fish for a few days before the races,” says Kelvin, who also races at Oodnadatta, Coober Pedy, Yunta, William Creek and Marree.

Innamincka Sporting Club secretary Jayne-Marie Barns says that without the picnic races the local station community would have no annual event. “We’re so far away from anywhere so this is our only local show,” she says. “We bring the kids home from boarding school for the races so they can catch up with their mates.” Jayne-Marie says the event would not be possible without sponsors such as Santos.

Although picnic races have been held at Innamincka as far back as the 1880s, the current Innamincka Sporting Club has been holding the event for 30 years. This year’s event, held on August 29, had total prize money of $20,000.
Late in the afternoon, the crowd swarmed to the rail to witness a nail-biting finish in the Santos Ltd Innamincka Cup, with Tereasa riding Nepabunna horse He’s Archie to victory by half a nose from Adelaide outsider Gramps, ridden by retired jockey Tim Norton from Murray Bridge.

“I love it,” Tereasa says after the race, her third consecutive Innamincka Cup win. “I’ll keep coming back here until I die, whether I’m riding or not.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #104

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2016