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Camels have played an intriguing role in Australian history. They were introduced into the country in the late 1880s, and Australian explorers used them extensively inland as packhorses. With the advent of modern transportation, the camels had served their purpose and were released into the wild. Early this century, some of the wild beasts were rounded up and tamed for racing. The early contests were laid-back affairs, staged as part of picnic days in several Outback locations. Even after the first major camel-racing day at Alice Springs in the Northern Territory in 1971, the sport remained an oddity. Today, the stakes are higher, with some races offering prize money between $20,000 and $30,000. The biggest races take place in Boulia, Queensland, and Alice Springs. Money raised at the latter goes to charity.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|