In 1959, 21 year-old Bonny Young competed in the very first Mount Isa Rodeo. Fifty-one years on and Bonny is still as passionate about rodeos as ever, returning again to the judging panel for this year’s Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo.
From August 7 to 9, Bonny will put on his judging hat for the rough stock events including bull riding, bronc riding and bare-back horse-riding.
And with 14 Australian rodeo titles under his belt, including four all-round rodeo champions, and the only person to win a national title in all five standard events, it’s fair to say that Bonny knows as thing or two about what goes on in the rodeo arena.
“They flew me and the other four top riders of the time to Mount Isa for the very first rodeo and it was great,” Bonny said.
“I won the steer wrestling event if I remember correctly,” he said.
“We always thought that the Mount Isa Rodeo would become something special because even from that very first event everyone had plans for it to be the biggest rodeo in Australia.”
Little did they know that it would not only become the largest rodeo event in Australia, but the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, with Mount Isa’s 20,000-strong population tripling for the three day annual event.
“I competed in every rodeo at Mount Isa for the first 17 years, missed the 18th event because I was overseas, and then competed in another 10 to 12 after that,” Bonny said.
For the past ten years, Bonny and his wife have been travelling around Australia with no fixed address, making a living out of rodeo judging, saddle making and saddle repairing.
Bonny will make the journey back to Mount Isa this year to judge local, interstate and international competitors as they compete for a prize pool of more than $200,000 in the Kalkadoon Stadium at the purpose-built Buchanan Park complex.
“The new stadium is certainly different to the football ovals and showgrounds that we used to compete on,” he said.
“I’ve judged events at the Mount Isa Rodeo for the past 12 to 15 years, so I’m looking forward to getting back there again next month for the 51st anniversary.”
Aside from the bronc, bull and cowboy action at the rodeo, the fun will continue away from the ring with performances by The Hoodoo Gurus and Beccy Cole and social events including Mardi Gras, Rodeo Queen Quest and Bull Pit.
Competitor entries close late July but tickets to the event are now on sale. Prices start at $30 per day for adults, $15 pensioners and $10 for children between seven to 17 years. Family and multi-day passes are also available and offer savings of up to 20 percent.
Mount Isa is located in north-west Queensland, 900km inland from Townsville along the Overlander’s Way. It is also easily accessed by direct flights from Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns.
Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo website: www.isarodeo.com.au (for tickets and event info)
Access: Qantaslink flies direct to Mount Isa from Brisbane and Townsville (www.qantas.com.au); Skytrans (www.skytrans.com.au) and Regional Pacific (www.regionalpacific.com.au) fly several times a week from Cairns to Mount Isa.
Accommodation and holiday ideas: www.adventureoutback.com.au
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