Ride like a cowboy

Country: Australia
Region: Queensland
Sport events: Rodeo
Sustainable tourism rating: écotourisme-3-SOL

Clouds of red dust, a blazing sun and people wearing cowboy hats and boots, you feel like a movie star in one of Clint Eastwood’s westerns, while walking the streets of the charming mining town of Mount Isa (Queensland, Australia).


When crossing the northern Australia to reach the coast, it is almost impossible to pass without stopping in Mount Isa.
At first glance, nothing exceptional and we even think that two hours will be more than enough to refresh and hit the road. Surprisingly, when we got to know its inhabitants we immediately decided to settle for a while.
I do not know why, either because it is a very remote town or because it is a place where people seem to have no worries, whatever the reason, one thing is certain: you will be charmed by Mount Isa.
A most for the Sportrotters, the city hosts the largest Rodeo in the southern hemisphere. And we decided to linger and relate you every detail of the event.


Mount Isa Rodeo, organized by the Rotary Club of Mount Isa, is held annually over three days in August. You can buy a ticket for the entire event or only for a day. (2015 Price: 95 AUD or 40 AUD / day)
As it was our first rodeo, we decided to test the three days.
The atmosphere is great and we immediately feel teleported into a pertect setting where cowboys and bulls share the stage for the applause of the cheering fans.


The shows are the same for the three days but the level is not the same as the first two days are the qualifications for the finals and you must wait for the last day to have the best of the show.
Juniors and famous cowboys challenge themselves to win the grand prize: $ 10,000 for the cowboy succeeding to last 8 seconds on the back of a very excited bull with only one idea in its mind: to get rid of the cowboy as quickly as possible!


Even if the bull riding is the main attraction, the rodeo has much more to offer so that you can discover what a cowboy routine is.
The events in which these brave men and women venture are:

Steer wrestling : the rider must jump from his horse, grab the horns of the steer and stop the animal with his feet before rolling the steer to the ground like a wrestler.


Bull riding, certainly the fastest and most dangerous race. The cowboy must stay on the bull for more than 8 seconds and hold with only one hand! Both the cowboy and the bull are judged.


Rope and Tie: The rider must catch the calf rushed at full speed with his lasso and then dismount, roll the calf on one side and tie three of its legs toghether quickly.


Ladies barrel racing: it’s a race against the clock where riders must pass between 205 L cans without dropping them.


Ladies breakaway roping: The rider must catch the calf with his lasso and rope should break into letting appear a flag.

Team roping. Two riders must synchronize their lassos so that one of them grabs the steer by its neck, head or horns while the other has to catch him by his legs.


Saddle bronc and bareback bronc: the rider has to stay on horseback over 8 seconds, one hand in the air. For sadle bronc, the rider has the luxury of a saddle :).



We were immersed for three days in this world where pride is more important than the pain and in which we give everything for a good show to its audience.


If you go through Mount Isa in August, plan your trip to be in time for the event and if the city seems too remote there is still the option for a flight (not very expensive.)

If you are brave and well trained, you can even try it yourself 🙂 Just think that this 8 seconds will be the longest and most intense of your life.

The Pros
Reasonable price
Very successful western setting
Choice of accommodation to suit all budgets (we recommend the Burke and Wills motel or camping swag rodeo)
Live music and fairground during the rodeo
Flexibility in the choice of ticket


The cons

Mount Isa is quite remote.
If you are sensitive to pollution, inform well before you get there because the air is polluted by the lead mine overlooking the town.

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