NOTHING gets the romance flowing like a camel race meet in outback Australia.

At least that's what Kyrraley and Tom Woodhouse from Boulia discovered after crossing paths at the Marree Camel Cup back in 2013.

Woodhouse Camels took home the 400 metre cup final on Saturday at the Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races, despite only breaking in the speedy steed named Gunner two weeks ago for the Boulia Camel Races.

Gunner's jockey, Kyrraley,  grew up racing horses in Newcastle with plans to become a famous  jockey, but as luck would have it  found herself racing for a rival camel team in Maree, where she met her future husband, camel handler Tom.  

"The rule in camel racing is if you find a good handler, you marry them," Kyrraley laughed. 

"So after we completed the racing circuit for the year he followed me home to Newcastle and now we're married with a little and we travel all over the country racing and riding camels.  

"Living in the middle of nowhere can be  isolating at times. There's just the three of us in Boulia with a 260km round journey to get to the nearest grocery store and an even longer drive to Mount Isa to stock up on bulk items, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  

"We race and travel as a family and it's days like today we love sharing."   Tom  grew up learning from his father - Boulia camel racing legend Garry Woodhouse - how to round up and break camels.  

"This weekend was  only Gunner's fifth time down the track. The first time he ended up throwing his jockey over the barriers so we weren't entirely sure how today was going to go, but we know he can race. He's smaller than most of our race camels but he can really move," he said.  

"Not all camels are born to be racers, most of the camels we round up out of the wild will end up on the meat market, but there might be one camel in a herd of 20-30 that show potential, then they will get broken in and trained to race.

"We brought Gunner here this weekend on behalf of my father Garry, so the old man should be quite pleased with a win."  

Mr Woodhouse said Gunner almost didn't make the cut for Tara  but was roped in at the last minute after one of their other camels went lame.  

With a finishing time of 34.1 seconds, the nine-year- old didn't do too badly, scoring the Woodhouses $3000 in prizemoney.  

"It's always good when you find a camel who is eager to race, like Gunner," Mrs Woodhouse said.  

"Going home with a win is great, but at the end of the day we just want everyone across that finish line safely.

"Camel racers are like one big family and even though I switched teams when I met Tom, everyone is still very friendly and supportive... I think that's one of the reasons I was drawn to the sport in the first place."

Tom and Kyrraley have their hands full with their daughter Charlie, who's not even two and is already showing great potential to become the next generation of Woodhouse Camels. 

"She loves spending time around the camels and going on little rides and bossing them around," Mrs Woodhouse said.

"It's good to know we have a little cameleer ready and waiting to take over the family business when the time is right."



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