Champion cowboy’s haka steals the show at Mount Isa Rodeo

The Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo wrapped up in spectacular style this afternoon when the current Australian bull riding champion, New Zealander Fraser Babbington did the haka in the red soil arena after his winning ride in the Open Bull Ride Finals.

Babbington scored 88 on Grasshopper to back up his 83 qualifying ride, making him an almost certain contender for the National Finals. The cowboy, 26, who started bull riding for a dare, said he was over the moon to win his first Isa Rodeo buckle.

“It’s a great feeling, I am just buzzing,” he said. “That was a tough ride, I was holding on by just the tip of my fingers.”

Babbington’s triumphant huka after his sensational ride was a fitting finale to three days of world-class rodeo action at the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere. The rodeo, now in its 55th year, had its biggest Saturday crowds in years, according to manager Donna Kuskopf.

“Although crowd numbers haven’t been finalised, the sales of three day passes has also definitely been stronger than in previous years,” said Ms Kuskopf. “It’s very encouraging as a sign people are wanting to enjoy the full program or have travelled to attend the event and wanted to make the most of it.”

International visitors came from as far afield as Scotland, Germany, England, the United States and Japan.

“You couldn’t have asked for better conditions, we’ve had clear blue skies and sunshine – perfect for one of the biggest outdoor rodeos in the world,” said Ms Kuskopf.

The rodeo was unique as a not-for-profit event run by Mount Isa’s two Rotary Clubs, which managed a 700-strong team of volunteers to help run the massive event, according to Ms Kuskopf. “Once again we’ve had incredible support from the locals, our naming sponsor Mount Isa Mines, all the sponsors and of course from Rotary – it’s a huge team effort to make the event the success that it was,” she said.

“Rotary donates $45,000 straight back into local community organisations from the rodeo proceeds every year, so it is an extremely important event for this region in terms of community support and also its role in attracting visitors who come for rodeo.”

As the finals action reached its climax, the crowd watched crowd favourite, five-time Australian rodeo clown of the year “Big Al” and three of Australia’s top protection athletes in action in the Open Bull Ride, won by xxx cowboy Bxxxx.

Held from August 9 to 11, the world-famous rodeo has raised millions of dollars over its 55 year history for local charities as diverse as the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service, the Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC), North Queensland Rescue Helicopter Service, the Laura Johnson Home and BUSHkids community health organisation.

This year’s event featured entertainment by Fred Brophy’s Outback Boxing Troupe, McAlister Kemp, Will Day & The Alibis, Tom Maxwell and a mid-stadium cricket match starring the QR Masters Bulls.

The Mount Isa Mines Rotary Rodeo won the Festival & Events category of the prestigious 2012 Queensland Tourism Awards and was a finalist at the Australian Tourism Awards. The Mount Isa rodeo is held over the second weekend in August each year.

For more information visit www.isarodeo.com.au or phone (07) 4743 2706. To keep up with all the latest news follow us on twitter.com./isarodeo or facebook.com/isarodeo.

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Susan Fuller, Synergy Marketing & Public Relations, Mob: 0411 463 693 Email susan.fuller@synergypr.net.au