Betoota stands lonely on a vast gibber plain, 170 kilometres east of Birdsville. While Betoota is mainly a ghost town, it comes alive twice a year. The annual Horse and Motorbike Gymkhana is held on the first weekend of Queensland Easter School holidays and then during the last weekend in August when this tiny ghost town explodes with all the colour and excitement of the Betoota Races, kicking off the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival.
Betoota is 70 metres above sea level and has an annual rainfall of just 300 millimetres. In 1885, the Queensland Government set up a customs post here to collect tolls for stock as they travelled to South Australia. The toll station operated up until Federation in 1901.
Betoota was also once a Cobb & Co change station. In the 1880s, three hotels were established here, along with a police station, store and post office. The last-standing hotel was a favourite spot for tourists until it closed in October 1997. In fact, the publican, Simon Remienko, was the sole resident of Betoota for many years and was once stranded on the Birdsville Track for 18 weeks with his truckload of eight tonnes of beer.
Twice a year this ghost town comes alive with activity as locals and visitors alike arrive by plane, coach and motor vehicle to enjoy local events. On the first weekend after Easter it's a fun-packed weekend at the Gymkhana. The weekend before the Birdsville races, Betoota hosts a weekend of racing as part of the Simpson Desert Racing Carnival. This is where you'll meet 'down to earth' Australians with a wry sense of humour!
Points of interest include Browns Creek – a popular camping area near the Betoota Hotel – and Deon's Lookout, the perfect place for travellers to take a break and drink in the spectacular view. You can also visit The Dreamtime Serpent – a work of art representing a series of pathways travelled through Country to connect the river systems in the Channel Country of the Diamantina Shire.
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