Tuesday, July 31, 2012
7 News Features: 7 Down Under - Camel Cup
It's a ride you have to see to believe. 7's taking you Down Under for this camel craze. When you think of Australia, camels may not come to mind. But don't tell that to one community in the outback. 7s Shireen Sandoval shows us.
Shireen Sandoval: "How would you describe the personality of a camel?"
Phebe Waters, Camel Jockette: "Hey're all different. Every camel has its own personality some are quiet and fun, some are grumpy as hell."
Tucked away in the rugged, dusty, central part of Australia, the city of Alice Springs holds its yearly camel cup.
Peter Solly, Central Aussie Tourism: "Riding these things, they're pretty unpredictable, but it's great fun. The spectators love it and we get thousands of people who watch it."
The entire day is dedicated to racing and riding these rambunctious creatures.
Kelly Anderson, Tourism Board Member: "Well camels are unpredictable, so if you think of a horse race, but a horse that can't control itself. So if it does not want to run, it will lock its legs in and won't go anywhere, might throw its rider off, or it will just set off sprinting so you never know what's going to happen and that's the beauty of it."
About a dozen jockey's compete.
Phebe Waters, Camel Jockette: "We have race heats to get into the camel cups and if we get into the first four races of the heat. We get to go into the camel cup and then there's another four races after that."
If they can't keep up? Gotta love Aussie humor but...
"It was really soft to eat, it actually sort of melted in your mouth when you ate it."
They do indeed serve camel burgers at the Camel Cup.
"It's a gamey taste to it, it's a little bit beefy, very nice, especially in central australia."
Shireen Sandoval: "OK, so I'm actually going to be in a camel race so right now what I'm doing is signing a waiver."
When in Rome or uh, Australia...
Shireen Sandoval: "Any tips for me when I'm riding the camel?"
Kelly Anderson, Tourism Board Member: "Just hold on for dear life."
I signed up for the bride and groom race.
Phebe Waters, Camel Jockette: "That's an awesome race, yeah the camel stops half way around the track and you jump on and finish with 2 people on the camel."
Shireen Sandoval: "Wait, wait I jump?"
Phebe Waters, Camel Jockette: "Sometimes they don't sit down all the way, you'll be all right, you'll be fine."
Peter Solly, Central Aussie Tourism: "So you're getting on that camel? I reckon you just hang on and hang on tight because that camel's gonna do its own thing."
I make my way across the track with my helmet and trusty head cam on.
Shireen Sandoval: "OK so what do i have to do?"
Race Guy: "Like this, pray and hope for the best."
And they're off the camels start barreling full-throttle round the track. Holy hump
Shireen Sandoval: "Now when you whip the camel what's does that do to it?"
Race Guy: "Makes it go faster, more power, it's good to scream at it as well. Screaming, whipping,
Shireen Sandoval: "Well that just sounds like the nightlife in Miami."
At the halfway point: My jockey makes a bumpy stop I think I was screaming while saddling up.
Shireen Sandoval: "So they just throw me over the camel?
Dennis Orr, Camel Owner: "Yep, keep your jacket on.
Shireen Sandoval: "Oh I will."
Dennis Orr, Camel Owner: "Leave your belt on, so if someone needs to, when you're on they can hold you as well."
The ride? Oh my back and no one grabbed my belt it was scary and exhilarating at the same time.
Phebe Waters, Camel Jockette: "Just hold on that's all there is to it. There's no trick, you just have to be able to hold on."
After a few minutes, but what seemed like an Oback eternity and a bruised blooming' onion later.
Shireen Sandoval: "Do I get anything if I win?"
Dennis Orr, Camel Owner: "You get a trophy and a pat on the back."
My day at the Camel Cup came to a close I got second place, but the event was definitely a first rate Aussie Experience.