Kulin Bush races - October 2007
Each year quite a few Vietnam Veterans converge on Kulin for the Bush Races weekend. It is held on land which has been donated from a private farm and is situated at Jilakin Rock next to a large salt water lake. A group of veterans (including MMVVG members) have worked hard to establish a separate and exclusive camp ground (Camp Hart) for the free use of veterans at the race track grounds. It boasts an impressive ablution block with hot water showers, a large under cover bbq area, a camp fire pit and now a memorial dedicated to Peter Hart, a soldier from the area who was wounded in South Vietnam in March 1967 and died eight days later. We travelled the 300km from Mandurah on Wednesday arriving just after lunch and were surprised at how many veteran's vans (including some from the Eastern States) were already there. A strong contingent of around a dozen MMVVG caravans made the trip. We set up camp and around four o'clock everyone had to vacate the camp for an hour while a crop dusting plane sprayed the area for flies, mosquitos and midges. This was most effective and there were no flying bugs for the rest of the week. The road out to the race track from Kulin is know as the Tin Horse Highway due to the dozens of statues created by the locals and placed all along the road.
Wednesday night was fellowship around the campfire. On Thursday a bowls tournament against the locals was organized followed by dinner at their very impressive Recreation Club. Friday saw a lot more vans arriving and much activity at the race track as the local community pitched in to get things ready for the race meeting. There were over sixty vans in the veterans area and at least double that in the general public caravan area. There was also a separate camp area for the gymkhana and other horse people, plus an area in the middle of the race track for the use of the hundreds of young people who converge on the races (a rock band performs on the Saturday night). A bocci tournament kept us amused in the afternoon then, as one of our more talented MMVVG veterans was performing at the race track marquee that night we headed over there for dinner followed by more fellowship around the campfire.
On Saturday the day started with a dawn service at the Peter Hart Memorial and afterwards tea and coffee with toast was served free of charge at the marquee. By now the camp grounds were chock a block and the organizers later declared a crowd of over 4000 for the day. Camp Hart looked fantastic with all the Australian Flags flying. The gymkhana started in the morning and a real carnival atmosphere prevailed.
The races were mostly unregistered local horses which added to the flavour of the event. No starting gates - just line 'em up and let 'em go. There was a TAB on track for those who wanted a bet and a Calcutta was run on every race for those that wanted to 'buy' a horse. In between races there were foot races for the kids, a dog race and even a sheep race. On Saturday night a lamb roast was available in the marquee, along with specially labelled wines and a band. The Two-up attracted a big crowd and after it got dark the fireworks display was well worth watching. By about nine o'clock most people had wandered back to their camps leaving the young folk to be entertained until the early hours by the rock band.
On Sunday morning we packed up and headed home after a thoroughly enjoyable four days. The weather was fine the whole time although the wind off the lake was quite cold on Saturday night. Because the camping is free it was not an expensive weekend either.
Written by Doug Burvill