The Great Wheelbarrow Race

The Great Wheelbarrow Race

In 2002, I was lucky enough to be involved with a promotion body for the Chillagoe region west of Cairns when it was decided that the road between Mareeba and Chillagoe would be named the Wheelbarrow Way with intentions of further developing themes and points of interest to encourage tourists to make the long journey to the lesser known destination of Chillagoe and the stage was set for the introduction of Great wheelbarrow race.

wheelbarrow raceAt an October 2003 meeting of the Chillagoe Tourism Operators Group, members were asked for suggestions as to how to promote the Wheelbarrow Way. A Wheelbarrow Race was suggested and immediately accepted. It is doubtful if those at the meeting would’ve expected the concept to be so successful but to the credit of all involved, this 140km event held every May has grown to over 450 competitors (2013). There are many categories with some teams participating for a ‘fun time’ experience while others are deadly serious, pushing identical empty Kelso wheelbarrows in a relay routine with the odd solo entrant.  Starting is often staggered to try and ensure most reach the finish line at the same time but as energy levels drop over the 3-day event, this isn’t always as successful in reality as it is on paper. It’s expected this event will continue to grow to become one of Australia’s premier events attracting international competitors.

The event is held over 3 days, starting at Mareeba and finishing in Chillagoe with stop over’s at Dimbulah and Almaden and is the biggest event held in Almaden for the whole year with 2,000 people descending on the small outback town that usually has a population of about 50. Dimbulah also welcomes the race after the demise of the tobacco industry in the late 90’s

Further information can be found at

or have a look at the Perentie Tours home page



About Gary Bondeson

Gary has been directly involved in tourism in Far North Queensland since the 1990’s. His passion for the area was inspired by the rich history and many points of interest concentrated in the region and felt a strong desire to share this with others. Gary is heavily involved with tourism development and even co-hosted an episode of the popular travel show 'The Great Outdoors’ with Tom Williams showing the limestone caves of Chillagoe located 200kms west of Cairns. After being away for 5 years, Gary has now returned to the area that he holds so dear to his heart to share his knowledge and experience with those who wish to have a Fair Dinkum Ozzy experience.

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