Head north this season to witness the thrill and excitement of the East Kimberley Rodeo round.
If wild and rugged country is a desirable getaway option for you and your family, you can’t get much better than a trip to the magnificent East Kimberley. This season, the region gets even wilder, with the start of the bull-bucking, dust-raising, cowboy-swaggering rodeo round, which promises thrilling spectator and competitor events.
An annual event for the people of the Kimberley, the rodeo round brings together those from cattle stations, Aboriginal communities and nearby townships, not only to compete and spectate, but to also catch up socially. The Kimberley rodeo brings day-long action filled with nervous riders; giggling children wearing oversized hats; fearless beasts; and colourful clowns who, along with the pick-up men, protect riders from an unspoken fate.
If you’re travelling to the East Kimberley between May and September you can attend the Halls Creek and Kununurra rodeos. Here, you’ll not only get a taste for some of the more tame team and timed events, you’ll also witness the thrill of the violent eight-second rough riding events that the Kimberley cowboys traditionally spend months preparing to conquer.
As a rough riding spectator you’re sure to be glued to the chute as the rider lowers himself onto the beast with his hand roped hard and hat pushed down, and you’ll cheer loudly as he nods for the gate to rise and begins the ride of his life.
As a rough riding competitor, “the danger is real” says Kimberley cowboy Cob de Pledge. “I don’t see anything for the first half of my ride. I just ride like hell and let natural instincts take over.” Cob rides in the Saddle Bronc, a unique horse event that uses an association saddle specifically designed to allow plenty of leg action. Other rough riding events include the steer, bull and bareback ride.
At the night events you’ll join competitors, spectators, organisers and volunteers, who play as hard as they’ve ridden and worked during the day. Any injuries are usually soothed with a Bundy rum, and the dust is stirred once again as revellers stomp their feet to the beat of a one-man-band playing from the back of the truck.
The Halls Creek rodeo is held from July 22 to 24, with the spectacular rough riding on the final day. The events on the first couple of days include camp drafting, a mini stampede gymkhana for the kids and an exciting timed event known as the Wild Cow Milking. There’s an outback colt challenge providing an opportunity for local stockmen and women to show off their horse handling skills, as well as the popular Bull and Bronc rider auction in the evening.
Kununurra hosts three rodeo events, the first being the Ord Valley Muster rodeo on May 14, followed by an annual rodeo in August and a night rodeo in September.
In addition to the rough riding, Kununurra’s novel events include the chariot ride, which is a definite crowd pleaser, and the greasy poddy event for the kids who race to catch a calf with money taped to its neck. “We aim to involve the crowd,” says Kununurra rodeo president Joe Atkins.
And the only advice from Cob: “Make sure you wear your hat and be a part of it”.
Adult day passes for East Kimberley rodeos are $10, with reduced rates for weekend and family tickets. For more information on the Kununurra rodeos call (08) 9168 7364, and for the Halls Creek rodeo call (08) 9168 8901.