THE DON River Dash is now Bowen’s biggest annual event if success is based on crowd numbers.
Thousands of dirt racing fans gathered in two spectator areas, plus hundreds more knew farmers with properties flanking the sandy riverbed of the Don River, at the weekend.
Don River Dash event secretary Wanita Sparr said the dash was now one of the biggest on the Queensland calendar, as competitors found it easier to get to than others out in the desert.
“They just drive straight up the highway, they don’t have to drive through the dust and dirt roads like they do to get to some other events,” she said.
Ms Sparr said the first competitors started arriving the Monday before, with the last getting in just before nominations closed, on Friday.
Race fans arrived early also to ensure they could get a room, as accommodation venues were booked out, pubs did a roaring trade, and visitors took time to see the Whitsundays’ many other natural attractions.
Miss Sparr said this weekend’s event – the fourth – was the biggest so far, with 203 bike riders and 89 buggies, of various modifications, taking part.
The event is also attracting more professional riders, including Toby Price and Dean Ferris, who have competed at the famous Baja (Mexico) and Las Vegas 400 meets.
Riders came from throughout Queensland and New South Wales to race.
Competitors raced along 25km tracks along the riverbed, adapting as best they could to the natural terrain.
There were jumps in front of the spectator bays to increase thrills for the crowd.
Despite some water in the normally dry Don, a couple of weeks ago, the recent warm weather saw only the occasional damp patch along the track.
Spills were numerous but injuries few, although most riders and drivers would return home with a few bruises.
Miss Sparr said organisers found it difficult to estimate crowd numbers, as people moved between the viewing areas at the riverbank, at Telegraph and Gladstone Park Roads, but estimates are at least 7,000.
The showground crowd chatted with competitors and were entertained by bands and stilt walkers from the Manoeuvre Troupe, and there were food stalls on site.
PIC: Proving age and experience are valued commodities, Gavin Jones, was the older rider at 63. (Bike 11).