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20 May, 2022

The Great Wheelbarrow Race 2022

COMPETITORS in this year’s Great Wheelbarrow Race will make their way out onto the streets of Mareeba this Friday when the popular annual event returns after two year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic.

Competitors in the 2018 Great Wheelbarrow Race

Iconic race returns

The three-day event attracts competitors from across the region and from as far as Brisbane and, through participating teams, has raised more than $2 million which has gone to various causes, charities and individuals. 

Now in its 19th year, the race was originally proposed to inject cash and visitors into small towns like Almaden, Dimbulah, Chillagoe and Mutchilba. It was also established to honour the amazing trail-blazing feats of early 1800s pioneers who would take wheelbarrows from Mareeba to Chillagoe with supplies, with the stretch now known as “Wheelbarrow Way”. 

The 2022 race has attracted 25 teams who will walk and/or run the 140km from Mareeba to Chillagoe, stopping overnight at Dimbulah and Almaden along the way. 

The event will kick off on Friday, with participants dressed in all their glory as they parade down Byrnes Street from 9.30am. 

Shoppers, businesses and residents are encouraged to line the street and cheer the competitors on. After the parade, competitors will depart from Vaughan Street from 10.30am, while the solos, duos and trios will leave from 7am. 

Competitors will do 44km on the first day when the reach Dimbulah. There, the town will turn it on with Dimby Dinner Do in the park, giving competitors a chance to unwind, relax and enjoy entertainment and food. 

Early on Saturday, teams will line up at the start to do the long stretch to Almaden – around 63km – during which they will encounter the difficult climb through Bismark Pass, known by locals as Top Cat Pass. 

Once at Almaden, they can take the boots off, have a shower and enjoy some great food and entertainment courtesy of the Railway Hotel at Almaden before hitting the sack so they will be fresh for the last leg to Chillagoe (33km) on Sunday. 

At Chillagoe, teams can relax before the presentations to commence around 12 noon at the Chillagoe Town Hall by Race committee chair Cr Locky Bensted and Mareeba Shire Mayor Angela Toppin. Come out and support the 25 teams in this year’s race at the downtown parade. Led by the “Face of the Race” Terry Roos, Cr Bensted and the team from Bendigo Bank, the parade will commence at Beaurepaires and travel down the main street.

Competitors in the 2018 Great Wheelbarrow Race.

Big boost for communities

MAREEBA Shire towns are set to get a muchneeded boost as the Great Wheelbarrow Race travels along the Wheelbarrow Way heading through Mareeba, Dimbulah, Petford, Almaden and Chillagoe injecting the towns with much needed funds.

Dimbulah’s Junction Hotel manager, Irene Emerson, said Dimbulah is the place to be on Friday night with hundreds of people slated to attend as caravan parks, hotels and everything in between are booked out. 

The Junction Hotel even opens its second bar to keep up with the massive influx of patrons that flood through with the race. “We are fully booked out and the venues know that we are going to be in for a big day,” Ms Emerson said. “The race generates that community spirit of getting together again and enjoying each other’s company, it brings a bit of money back into the town. “It is good for the community and you see it in people, they are all happy to get all dressed up and come out for the night and watch the runners come in, they all get quite excited about it.” 

The race will pass through Almaden on the second last night as the racers prepare for the last leg of their journey into Chillagoe. Almaden will light up over the night and Railway Hotel manager Alyce Clarke is excited to see the town light up for the night. “It is our biggest weekend that is for sure, it has been a shame it has not run for a few years,” he said. “We have been booked out for months, the first bookings came in two months ago. “We are prepared and ready to go.”

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