Mudgee to Darwin Day 37 - 39 Borroloola and the rodeo.

Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013 at 11:50

Member - Lisa & Peter (NSW)

Mudgee to Darwin Day 37 - 39 Borroloola and the rodeo.

A fairly long drive today, about 700km. We got away from the gorge, filled up with fuel at Katherine and were on the road by about 8.45. We headed down the Stuart highway as far as Daly Waters, then turned east along the single lane tar to Cape Crawford and the Heartbreak Hotel. We kept a sharp eye out for road trains, as we knew the rules. When a road train approaches, you need to get right off the road and leave them on the single strip of tar, even if it means stopping completely. It's too dangerous for a road train to drop any wheels off the side of the road, he could easily sideswipe us with a swaying trailer, or even roll the whole rig. Anyway, we saw a few road trains, plus other vehicles, and even overtook one on the way in to cape Crawford, albeit on a two lane section of road.

We stopped at the Heartbreak Hotel for a burger about 2pm, knowing we were only 110 km or so from our destination, and bumped in to a girl we knew from Mudgee, Emma, who is a cousin of our daughters partner. It's a small world alright. She saw Peters shirt which had Mudgee Dragons emblem, realised we were from Mudgee, and stopped to chat. She is working on a station near Katherine and had driven over with a friend to check on his cattle on agistment in the area.

As we drove in to Borroloola, we had a call from Craig, Shane's friend at Borroloola, who met us in town, and invited us to stay at his place for a few nights, which we were happy to do. It was nice to have the luxury of air conditioning, our own shower and toilet, and a chance to do a little washing. Shane came up for the night with his swag, so we had a nice evening sitting outside and chatting.

The next day it was off to the rodeo. There was plenty of action, lots of half wild horses, and a few spills, and that was just the gymkhana events - barrel racing, bending, flag race etc. one young girl got pelted after her horse decided to put on a bucking display during the flag race. campdrafting was also on in the big arena. Later in the afternoon we watched the junior bull rides, bareback broncs, and bull riding. The bucking stock were not the usual well trained animals, which hear the hooter at the end of the eight seconds, stop bucking and head for the yard. Sometimes it took six riders to escort one scrawny animal back to the holding yard, as it would charge the riders, and the fences with ferocious attitude. One scrawny young bull put up such a display, in the end he was only taken back to the yard when a strong young man grabbed him by the horns, and a young woman grabbed his tail, and he was 'frog-marched' to the yard, escorted as well by five or six men on horseback. The young bulls were the worst, after pelting their rider, they then went after him with intent to kill, and the 'clowns' were hard pressed to distract them. One boy came off his young bull and it turned on him, one of the clowns leapt on the boy to protect him. I got some good action shots, will upload as soon as I have sorted them out and have good service.

On Sunday morning we took a drive out to Bing Bong where ships are loaded with zinc from McArthur River Mine, there was a ship being loaded. It's being enlarged to cater for up to six ships, loading out iron ore from a new mine being opened up. The gulf looked stunning, a gorgeous turquoise blue. We also went to the local boat ramp at Mule Creek, apparently teeming with fish (and also big crocs). Then it was back to the rodeo. We hung out in the bar area, Craig and Shane know a lot of the locals, black and white, and everyone mixed in together. There was no trouble at all while we were there, though Borroloola and the rodeo have a reputation for having a lot of fighting. There was more excitement and spills, with breakaway roping, steer 'undecorating' and my personal favourite the bulldogging, where two riders chase a young bull and one leaps from his horse to wrestle it to the ground. Sometimes the rider missed, and would then chase the animal on foot and try to wrestle him down. There was a lovely muddy puddle at the end of the arena, and many of them made a beeline for that, resulting in glorious muddy fun. All this was accompanied by the enthusiastic cries of "you got him, jump on him" from the commentator and the crowd. Of course being dumped on the ground often just riled up the bull, and he would then put up quite a display when being ousted from the arena. One of them shoved his head between the steel ropes of the arena fence and looked like scrambling through for a moment, but the sturdy fence stopped him thank goodness, as I was back pedalling fast to get clear of him. That afternoon there was more bullriding, but we headed back to Craig's place by early evening to roast a leg of lamb for dinner.
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