Rodeo!

After getting bit lost on red dirt roads and staying in a lovely little bush camp on Greens Island, surrounded by a meandering river and inhabited by a million large, biting March flies,

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we made for Bridgetown where we met an dear friend from Bangkok days, and spent a pleasant evening in a real home with a real bathroom and real food. It was good to reminisce about old days, and meet the nice guy that she married.

A short drive from Bridgetown took us to Boyup Brook, home of Harvey Dickson’s Country Music Centre, where we were in for a weekend of music and rodeo. We parked with a few hundred campers and caravaners in a large field adjacent to the venue, and set up camp at the end of Old Farts Lane, right opposite the porta loos.

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Lots of people were sitting around in their cowboy hats and Johnny Cash sang loud, plaintive songs from someone’s tent. The same CD played for about two hours, so we took ourselves off for a walk to explore our home for the next couple of days. We visited a rather doleful little donkey with sad eyes,

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and a lonely caged emu with his strange booming cry, inspected the rather lovely horses that were there to do something tomorrow, then moved on to discover some huge quirky wooden carvings and sculptures, old sheds and cars and machinery and whimsical landmarks.

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And then the heavens opened with a vengeance so we ran laughing back to our caravan and arrived giggling and soaking wet, dried off and spent an hour playing cards.

We spent the evening in The Shed, sitting beneath a corrugated iron ceiling from which dangled a bit of everything! Lawn mowers, rifles, rocking horses, saucepans, musical instruments, hundreds of old vinyl records, hub caps, toasters, a bow and arrow, toy trucks and tractors, umbrellas, crutches, old cart wheels, an ironing board or two, beer cartons, old prams….God; the list goes on. Hundreds of miscellaneous random objects, just dangling from the high ceiling.

Beneath the ceiling was a stage, and on the stage a Country and Western duo sang just about every song that Johnny Cash and John Denver and Slim Dusty ever wrote. The Shed accommodated around three hundred people – the floor was covered with sawdust and there was a concrete slab in front of the stage that served as a dance floor. The smokers congregated outside around a camp fire, and the bar was hopping.

What an eclectic bunch of people jumped around on that dance floor!

Many wore jeans with spangles, cowboy boots and plaid shirts, there were an awful lot of cowboy hats, and some teenage Daisy Maes in short denim shorts, embroidered boots, and fringed tops, (interestingly, no one was wearing any make up); there were some mums who had come straight from the farm and had obviously been too busy – or excited – to change out of their hand-knitted cardigans and baggy pants: there were the ones who ran around in frenzied circles, there were the line dancers, and there were the very serious couples tangoing their way around small children running amok through people’s legs – such fascinating people-watching!!

And then we got up too, and I danced with my new knees for the first time!

Sometimes we felt that we were the only city slickers in The Shed, but it felt good to experience something that we had never done before.

What a great evening!

Some ferals across from us played loud music (Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash – again…) and drank and shouted until the wee hours, and then started again at 5am. By 7.30 they were practicing their whip cracking – a metre from our caravan!

The rodeo was again, something completely different!

Cowboys and cowgirls from all over Australia, and some from overseas too.

All competing to – um – stay more than eight seconds on a bucking horse or steer, and then fall in the mud and limp out of the arena with arms held high in victory. “Look at me; I’m not dead and I can still walk”

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The other trick was to ride after a bolting steer, jump off the horse and on to the steer’s back and wrestle him to the ground. No one succeeded, and the steer won every time. Hooray!

Another fun trick was go lasso the steer from a galloping horse (that was good) and then jump off the horse, fling the lassoed steer to the ground and hogtie him. If the steer stayed hogtied for three seconds the cowboy won. If he got away the steer won.

The steers had a much better overall score than the cowboys.

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If the cowboy won he got a lot of money and some sore spots on his body for several days. If the steer won he got to do it again with someone else until he lost.

Not such a good day for the steers.

Bucking Broncos buck because they have a rope tied very tightly around their abdomens, and they don’t like it very much when the cowboys sit on them. Same with the bucking Bulls. They just want to get rid of the tight belt and flee towards the safety gate at the end of the arena.

The Bulls get very angry, and after they have tossed their riders, they are out to damage anything else that gets in the way.

In come the troopers, mounted on their thoroughbreds

You’ll never take me alive, says he…..

So it takes a lot of skilful manoeuvering to remove them from the arena.

The spectators seemed to really like this show, but the animals didn’t, and I didn’t like it much either – but it certainly was an interesting day.

Tonight’s music was excellent! Several good country bands, plenty of food and drinks, all in the open air with multiple fires in drums to keep us warm.

More fascinating people watching.

In all, a most enjoyable weekend that we will remember for a long time.

I have met another aspect of Australia.

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