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Kununurra Muster Rodeo

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by Kate Galea (subscribe)
A full time traveller Kate and her partner have called a Toyota Coaster home since December 2016. They are currently touring Australia making memories and lapping up everything this amazing country has to offer. Visit
To the rodeo
At age 34 I can now say 'this isn't my first rodeo' and mean it in all honesty and without a trace of irony.

The waiting bulls at the rodeo

Last night, Jot and I attended the Kununurra Muster Rodeo, one of the many events in the Argyle Diamonds Ord Valley Muster line-up. That was our first rodeo. But most of the people there seemed to be regulars of this traditional outback pastime. Cowboy hats (that I now know are called Akubras) sat on most heads, chequered shirts were everywhere and denim was mandatory.

Rodeo fan

Free buses delivered people from Kununurra town to the rodeo grounds, just 10 minutes down the road. We arrived as the sun was setting, casting that magical evening haze on the mountain ranges in the background. The sky turned pink, country music blasted out of the sound system and the cowboys and cowgirls mounted their bulls.

Dusk at the rodeo

It took the riders a while to start getting scores on the board but the fourth rider managed to stay on for about 10 seconds and the crowd cheered in support. There was a licensed bar with wine and beer options from $5 and food stands and vans offering fried chicken and hot chips, burgers and other meaty goodness. As the pink sky turned dark and the floodlights lit up the ring, the drinks started flowing, the cowboys stayed on the bulls for longer and the atmosphere turned to that of a party with entertainment provided.

Hard working cowboy

Guys and gals came out of the shoots on beasts bigger than I have ever seen before. For seconds the animals thrashed around trying to buck the rider off their back. The ridders sat tall, or tried to, with one hand in the air, the other holding on for dear life. Some slipped off gently when they could hold on no more and scarpered to the safety of the fence. Others fell head first onto the dusty ground, quickly rolling away before they were trampled by the giant bucking animals. The rodeo team then had the daunting task of mustering the animal back to the holding area to wait for their next go.

Shake it off

Other segments included the saddle bronc on riled up horses, poddy rides for brave kids on calves, trick riding and the weaner scramble where teams of two try and wrestle a calf to the ground before the other denim-clad teams.

The little ones

The action and entertainment kicked on into the night with buses returning people to town every 15 minutes. The cowboys got muddier and muddier and the party kept going.

The Kununurra Bushmen's Rodeo Association host regular rodeos and camp-drafts but Saturday's event, thanks to the Ord Valley Muster, was a full house with a mix of regular rodeo goers and first timers fighting to get a good view on the hills around the ring. It was eye-opening to experience a rodeo and everything that goes with it for the first time. It is a serious, competitive sport in outback and rural communities with big prize money to compete for. I am not sure that I will be jumping into the saddle any time soon though.

Impressive trick riding
Impressive trick riding

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When: May 12th
Where: Kununurra Rodeo Grounds
Cost: $20 Adult (Pre Sale) / $25 at the gate / $10 Child / $60 Family
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