A freelance writer and bargain hunter with wanderlust, recently moved to Perth from Brisbane.
Try your hand as a cowboy or cowgirl
Mining and resource jobs are a hot topic at the moment with the recent resource boom but not many people are aware of the many tourism opportunities and laid-back family-oriented lifestyle in these Outback towns, which have their own share of unique and exciting events.
One such event is the Rodeo. If you are heading through Central North Queensland this weekend, there is a mining town of around 21,000 people, 820 km west of Townsville called Mount Isa, famous for their copper and zinc resources. The small Outback town swells to welcome around 25,000 visitors, competitors and horses for the largest rodeo event in the Southern Hemisphere with around $200,000 worth of prizes up for grabs.
Be prepared to be thrilled by the world class rodeo action including roping, bull riding, barrel racing and bareback while enjoying a slice of the wild, wild West. If you are a city dweller, this will be a new and eye-opening experience. It's a place where you can feel right at home with your swag and cowboy hat while you watch the events that unfold over the three days while mingling with the friendly locals. I attended this event last year and despite the perception that the Outback is quiet and has more cows, kangaroos and snakes than people. The opening night was jam-packed full of excited visitors trying out the food from the make-shift stalls, kids laughing happily on carnival rides and quality live country music.
The Rodeo starts out with a Mardi Gras Street parade on Friday night with spectacular floats and family-friendly parades. You can also check out the action at Fred Brophy Boxing Troupe's boxing tent when their troupe of fighters display their skills in the ring or marvel at the daring cowboys and cowgirls.
If you are making a spontaneous trip and have not organized accommodation, there is the option of camping under the stars in Swag City. The stars shine brighter here than in the city and your camp pass includes a free hot breakfast during the weekend. You can party through the night in one of the town's pubs or listen to local tales at the Chill Out area where there is free tea, coffee, water and gas heaters to keep you nice and warm. It does get chilly in Mount Isa on a wintry night!
If you want a break from the Rodeo, you can also have a taste of life as an underground miner at the Outback at Isa where you can visit the award winning Hard Times Mine. You will be kitted out in full gear, donning a cap lamp, overall, safety boots and glasses and descend underground via a cage. Your tour guide is experienced as a miner, giving you the opportunity to get up close to the machinery and get a taste of the life of an underground miner.
On a professional front, if you are looking for that lucrative mining job, Mount Isa is the best place to network as there are plenty of mining representatives at the Rodeo. Some people have checked the town out, liked it so much and have stayed on to score themselves a prized mining job and new life-long friends.
Tickets for the Rodeo cost $30 for adults for a single day or $75 for a 3 day pass or $10 over a single day for children from 7 to 17.
Tickets to the Hard Times Mine cost $49 for adults and $30 for children.
To get to Mount Isa, you can either drive from Townsville (long journey!) or fly from Brisbane, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville with Qantas, Virgin, REX and Skytrans.