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Local Girl Honoured As Birdsville Ambassador

Venessa Harris, a 16-year-old indigenous model and cancer survivor, will head back to the tiny outback town she calls home next month as an official ambassador for the famous Birdsville Races.

Local Girl Honoured As Birdsville Ambassador

Venessa Harris, a 16-year-old indigenous model and cancer survivor, will head back to the tiny outback town she calls home next month as an official ambassador for the famous Birdsville Races.

Harris is the first ever female ambassador to be announced for the iconic ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’.

Her family shares a long and storied history with Birdsville – one of Australia’s most remote towns on the edge of the Simpson Desert with a general population of just 115 residents.


The young model was born in the region, her grandparents still live in Birdsville and her older sister Amber calls nearby Durrie Station home.

Her grandfather Kevin (Spinny) Monaghan and uncle David Monaghan both rode in the Birdsville Cup.

“I can’t wait to get back to Birdsville to be part of the races as an ambassador,” Harris said.

“It’s such a privilege to be part of such an iconic event, especially when my family has such a close connection with the races and the region.”

After winning a major competition in Brisbane at the age of 12, Venessa Harris was on the brink of launching her modelling career when she was diagnosed with bone cancer.

“I had to put everything on hold and spent the next 12 months in Brisbane being treated and learning to walk again before returning home to recover,” she said.

“I am in a stage called No Evidence of Disease now and feeling great. I see the races as a great opportunity to gain some experience, have fun and represent this region which I love so much.”

Venessa and her family travel to Birdsville every year to visit family and friends from their current home near Mackay oin the north coast of Queensland.

Birdsville, located 1590km west of Brisbane and 1940km from Sydney, is located on land traditionally owned by the Wangkangurru Yarluyandi people in the Channel Country of far west Queensland.

“It’s the women of the Outback who drive these regions and underpin their success and they’ve been with Venessa body and soul during her treatment with cancer,” says Venessa’s mother Karen Monaghan

“The community members of the Diamantina Shire helped us during Venessa’s treatment, and we’re excited to go back to re-connect with everyone who showed us so much love when we needed it the most.”

Venessa rode in Gymkhana competitions before being diagnosed with cancer and she looks forward to getting back in the saddle.

“I have made it back on to a motorbike but not my horse just yet. Who knows, maybe I’ll go for a ride on the sand dunes when I’m back in Birdsville,” she said.

“We’re thrilled to have Venessa on-board as an ambassador for the 2018 Birdsville races. She is our first female ambassador,” said Gary Brook, vice president of Birdsville Race Club.

“It’s fitting that her family have such a strong connection with the races. We couldn’t have hopped for a better fit.”

The 2018 Birdsville Races are scheduled for Friday August 31 and Saturday September 1.

Racing And Sports



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