BY EVAN MORGAN
THE DOOMADGEE Rodeo is part of the real outback complete with red dust, scrub bulls and bucking broncos.
Held over three days each year in the last week in August it comes without the frills and glitz of a Gold Coast re-enactment or the bells and whistles found at Mt Isa.
The rodeo features mostly indigenous ringers riding for the pride of their community going head to head and toe to toe with cranky cantankerous scrub bulls straight from the paddock.
But the event also draws some of Queensland’s best bucking bulls and broncos and this year former world bull riding champion Troy Dunn from Proserpine came to give a workshop on the art of riding a bull and to keep an eye open for raw talent.
The indigenous community of Doomadgee is situated 76km west of Burketown and 110km east of theNorthern Territoryboarder and was founded in 1931 as a mission by the Christian Brethren.
Originally built on the coast it moved to its current location on the banks of theNicholsonRiverafter a cyclone destroyed the original mission in 1936 and became an Aboriginal Shire in 1987.
Former Doomadgee Shire councillor and rodeo committee member Jason Ned says the event is not to be missed and encouraged more visitors to come to the town for the annual rodeo.
“We like to see a big mob of people come to Doomadgee for the rodeo.”
He said Doomadgee used to have a bad reputation but when people visit they see it is a good place and they meet a lot of good people.
“I always talk to anyone along the road and they always talk good about Doomadgee.”
Aged 36, he runs 2000 head of cattle on Spoon Creek Station, 40km north of Doomadgee and, with the help of several locals, built the current rodeo ground in 2002 after getting funding from the State Government.
He says the rodeo is getting bigger and bigger and this year they had good bucking bulls come fromRichmond.
“I brought in 31 scrub bulls from my place for the second division bull ride. They are just scrubbers straight from the bush,” he said.
“They went well when we bucked them through yesterday and they livened a few boys up, made them go for their money.
“I’m riding in the second division bronc riding and should go all right.
“I have won it a few times here hope I get a good one and stay with him.”
“We only have the rodeo once a year and for the young people in the community it’s the biggest excitement in the town
“This time of year everybody gets together and we meet families from outside and they come in here and show respect to the other families in town here.
He says competitors come from all over the gulf to compete at the Rodeo.
“There are riders here from Borroloola, Normanton, Mt Isa, Croydon, Camooweal, from all over the place.”
Former world champion Troy Dunn considers the Gulf country to be full of untapped bull riding talent.
“I just like the idea of helping these guys as they have a lot to offer and I like coming to these places because it is a good social service for the bush.”
He says campdrafting and bull riding were important for the north and its communities and he was keen to pass on some of his knowledge.
Each year he picks the Australian team to compete in the Professional Bull Riders world cup and said with the talent he had seen in indigenous communities he could soon be choosing an Aboriginal rider.
He said places likeBraziland theUnited Stateswere factories for bull riders with thousands and thousands of them in each country.
“InAustraliawe might only have 50 to 100 capable bull riders so we are behind the eight ball big time in just sheer numbers.
“I feel it is my job to do junior development and it would be good for bull riding and good for PBR if one day one or two indigenous kids were in the world cup side,” he said.
There is one guesthouse in Doomadgee offering both breakfast and dinner which is within walking distance to the rodeo ground and can be contacted on 07 4745 8235.
Doomadgee is under an alcohol management plan and is known as a ‘Dry Place’ with restrictions on the amount of alcohol that can be taken into the community.
For more information on these restrictions go to the Queensland Government Office of Liquor and Gaming website.
Skytrans has regular flights to Doomadgee and to nearby Burketown which offers more accommodation options and is only s short distance by car.
Burketown bills itself as the Barramundi capital ofAustraliaand a gateway to the Gulf region and apart from fishing has a hotel, a lodge and a caravan park.