THE BIGGEST RODEO IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE.
The Isa Rodeo is a bucket list event, something you have to do at least once in your lifetime. It is a spectacular week of fun and entertainment in Outback Queensland, Australia. The Mount Isa Rodeo site suggests that the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo is where the romance of the Australian Outback meets the grit of a mining town, east meets west and man meets beast. It is non-stop rodeo action – bull riding, saddle bronc, bareback bronc, rope & tie, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, breakaway roping. They aren’t wrong. It’s a full week of raw outback fun.
For me, the rodeo week in Mount Isa is one of my favourite Outback Australia weeks of the year. There is so much entertainment during the Mount Isa rodeo week that it is hard to get to everything. It is held every year over the second weekend of August, at a time when the Outback weather is at it’s best.
The week kicks off with the Mount Isa City Council Isa Street Festival which features a street parade, stalls, food vans, entertainment and top Australian musicians. Last year Jessica Mauboy rocked the Mount Isa street crowd. This year it was Isaiah. Some of Australia’s best Indigenous artists have entertained the crowds in Mount Isa, all free to the public.
Fred Brophy’s Boxing troupe is something not to be missed with a show every night during the rodeo events. According to Fred himself, he is Australia’s last tent boxing showman who regularly tours around Australia. In fact, he could be one of the last boxing troupes in the world. With his regular travelling boxers and a few local boxers, local people enter the open ring to prove their worth against them. It’s not just the men who get to take on Fred’s finest boxers, the women can also challenge Fred’s only female boxer, Beaver, who Fred says has “hairs on her legs that could spear a rat”.
The Isa Street Festival is followed by the Mailman Express on the Thursday night. Held every year as part of the Isa Rodeo festivities, the Mailman Express is a time-trial race for non-thoroughbred horses. The race takes place over a 200 metre straight on the Buchanan Park race track and is named in honour of the late Wally Mailman – a champion rough rider, rodeo judge and racing steward in Mount Isa. Wally was a keen horseman who worked on numerous stations throughout north-west Queensland and made a significant contribution to the racing and rodeo industries. He is also the father of Secret Life of Us personality and actress Deborah Mailman.
This year saw the International Rodeo challenge between Australia’s finest sportsmen and women in these events go up against the best from the United States of America. This final challenge on the rodeo schedule was nothing short of nail-biting sportsmanship with the crowd going wild after each event.
The crowd at the rodeo event was a sea of Akubra hats, Wrangler jeans, checkered shirts for the men and Hitchley & Harrow shirts for the women, big belt buckles and Ariat boots. The entertainment was top-notch this year at the rodeo with some of Australian’s finest bands – Sheppard, The Viper Creek Band, The McClymonts, Travis Collins, Jimmy Barnes, The Wolfe Brothers, James Blundell, Tania Kernaghan, Brewn and local band Bulldust. This year Jimmy Barnes hit the news after falling through the stage during his concert at the Mount Isa rodeo. Being the true legend that he is, Jimmy got straight back up and kept singing, despite being in agony. That’s just what true Aussie legends do in the Outback.
Accommodation during the rodeo week is scarce and usually needs to be booked weeks in advance. The motel rooms across town are full, caravan parks were full and many of the free camping spots out of town were full too. There is rough camping at the rodeo grounds in the middle of the race track which is a great location if you don’t want to line up for a long time for a taxi and you like to party into the night.
The Mount Isa Rodeo week is a one of a kind Outback event schedule, not to be missed. Put it on your bucket list and make the trip to the outback for the next rodeo. You certainly won’t be disappointed.
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