Volunteers : A Guide

This guide has been produced to help people interested in volunteering for the Tatts Finke Desert Race decide when, where and how they can be of assistance.

The Finke Desert Race has been run annually in Alice Springs for nearly 40 years (2015 will be the 40th race) and throughout this time has been a community run event organized and operated by volunteers with some support from part-time paid staff in the admin and information technology areas.
Last year there were 330 registered volunteers. Many of these are Alice Springs residents but many come from other parts of Australia sometimes on an annual basis. The volunteers bring a huge range of knowledge, skills and experience to the event. Anyone can volunteer and there are no prerequisites required for many of the tasks that need doing. While some jobs require training and accreditation (e.g. becoming a scrutineer) there are many that don’t (e.g. car park attendants, catering, etc.).

Volunteers are encouraged to express their interest online at our website (www.finkedesertrace.com.au). The online form includes contact details and provides the opportunity for volunteers to indicate which areas they are interested in volunteering for. These areas are outlined below and further information can be obtained by calling (08 8952 8886) or emailing (admin@finkedesertrace.com.au) our office.
When you submit an expression of interest you will receive a confirmation email immediately and your name will be placed on our volunteer email list. Depending on the areas you have nominated, someone will be in touch with you closer to the time of the race.

Previous experience is not required but obviously if you have relevant previous experience we would like to build on that. After you have filled in your contact details in the expression of interest you will find a place where you can enter experience and qualifications if you have them (e.g. CAMS of MA Official, etc.)


Competitors (Bikes and Cars) and Volunteers are required to register in the week before the race. Volunteer registration takes place at the Finke Office in Alice Springs and the Competitor registration is held at the Start/Finish Line. Tasks include preparing registration packs for competitors (Working bees are normally done at the Finke Desert Race Office, Elder Street, after work hours on week days leading up to the event.) and manning registration desks for competitors and volunteers from Monday to Thursday 10am to 5pm in the week before the race.

Each year the committee selects 12 girls to become the Official Ambassadors which represent the event – the Finke Desert Race Grid Girls (see www.finkegridgirls.com.aufor more information). These girls are all volunteers as are their helpers such as make-up artists, hairstylists, drivers, and general assistants.

The Tatts Finke Desert Race generates a lot of media attention around the country and over 100 representatives of the media industry converge on Alice Springs for the event. Volunteers are needed to assist with the coordination of the media centre as well as with the podium presentations and the post-race presentation.

While the infrastructure at the Start/Finish line improves every year there is a need for significant information technology resources to be set up, supported over the race period and packed up at the end. These resources include the setup and configuration of desktop and laptop PCs, networking infrastructure, phones, printers, modems, routers, switches, etc. for use by the media, race control, results etc.

The Finke Family Night takes place at a venue in Alice Springs on the Thursday evening before the race. This event needs volunteers to help with setup and pack up,  BBQ attendants, etc.

Scrutineering takes place at Blatherskite Park on the Friday before the race weekend from 3 pm to 10 pm. Volunteers are needed for a range of tasks relating to the setup, car parking, programme sales, etc. as well as bike and car scrutineering and pit attendants.

There are many tasks that need doing before the race. These include setting up the site at the Start/Finish line and also at Finke. There are also tasks relating to the track itself.

Over the race weekend there are many tasks for volunteers at the Start/Fish Line. These range from competitor/race-related tasks (e.g. marshals), through spectator-related tasks (e.g. car park and bar attendants) to Race Control (e.g. timing, scoring, and IT support). This section also includes competitor relations and general assistance.

St John Ambulance service and the Alice Springs Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade provide emergency services every year for the event. These personnel are also volunteers and their contribution is very much appreciated.

FUEL STOPS        
Involves refueling race vehicles using supplied fuel and fuel pumps. Training is provided for use of pumps. Volunteers are required to camp both Saturday and Sunday nights, returning to Alice Springs after the last sweep vehicle on Monday. Own camping equipment and transport is necessary. Finke Desert Race will supply fuel for vehicles.

Checkpoint Officials are responsible for the monitoring and reporting of competitor movements. This involves the use of an electronic transponder system, maintaining computerised equipment and manually scoring competitors and emailing results to Race Control. These areas also work closely with St. John Ambulance and liaise with other track officials. This involves camping for both the Saturday and Sunday nights with often late departure on Monday. Own camping equipment and 4WD vehicle is a necessity. There are four checkpoints between the Start/Finish Line and Finke. Please tick the checkpoints you are interested in volunteering for (Finke Checkpoint is in a separate section below)

Finke Checkpoint plays the dual role of being the last Official Checkpoint and Race Control – Finke. Volunteers must be prepared to travel to Finke Community (approximately 450 kms South of Alice Springs, via Kulgera) on Saturday morning and return after the bikes leave on Monday afternoon. Volunteers need to supply their own camping gear and it would be preferred if they have their own four wheel drive vehicle. FDR will supply fuel for private vehicles.
In addition being the hub of communications from the Southern end, officials from CAMS and MA, media and VIP’s fly into Finke and must be accommodated. Checkpoint officials are also required to work closely with St. John Ambulance, NT Police and the local community representatives.
Some positions that are vital on Race Day 1 become redundant on Race Day 2, therefor volunteers may fill more than one position. On arrival at Finke Checkpoint, all officials are expected to assist in setting up the checkpoint, communications and officials camping area. Early on Sunday morning, all officials are required to erect signage, bunting and other duties as deemed necessary to secure the race track prior to the first vehicle arriving at Finke.

Finke Desert Race provides a meal service that competitors and their crew can elect to purchase. The Finke kitchen provides two main meals – dinner on Sunday evening and breakfast on Monday morning. There is also tea and coffee offered throughout the weekend and limited snacks available on Sunday afternoon.
Volunteers are required to travel to Finke Campground, approximately 450 kms South of Alice Springs (via Kulgera) on Saturday morning and return to Alice Springs on mid-morning Monday. Volunteers are required to provide their own camping gear. Transport can be arrange if they do not have their own four wheel drive vehicles. Finke Desert Race will supply the fuel for vehicles.

After both the car competitors and bike competitor's race, the track must be cleared of any foreign materials and assistance offered to competitors that have suffered mechanical breakdowns or injury. Communications with Race Control are carried out via UHF radio. Volunteers in this area are the eyes and ears for Race Control and are often relied upon to liaise with check point officials, fuel stops and St. John Ambulance. It is required that sweep volunteers camp out for two nights, often in different locations. Own vehicle and camping equipment is necessary. Finke Desert Race will provide fuel for all vehicles. We are looking for volunteers in both four wheel drive vehicles and on motorcycles. Arrangements will be made to have bike sweep camping gear relocated to designated points.

Presentation night takes place on the Monday evening after the Day 2 race. Volunteers are needed to help with setup, trophies, ticket sales, presentation, and pack up.

There are volunteer opportunities to help with dismantling and removal of temporary infrastructure and resources both at the Start/Finish Line, along the track and at Finke.

If you have specialized skills to offer or usually play a specialized role that is not covered in the options above please use this space to tell us about how you can contribute as a volunteer.
You can note medical and dietary details here if you wish but on the day please make sure the volunteers around you and coordinating your area are aware of any issues (like allergies or dietary constraints) important to your well-being.

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