A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

 Sunday 26 October 2003
Bungendore Rodeo October 2003
Bungendore Rodeo - 'Just Great Fun'

It took a while to get around to this entry and select these photographs, and even longer to write it up. Work has been a mess with not enough staff to service clients. In the almost eight years I've been in Bungendore, this is the first of the annual rodeos I'd been able to get to. The motivation was because this years event was reduced to one day, rather than the two days of the past. And there was some added community pressure - the Bungendore Bulletin calling for urgent audience support, so I headed out the Kings Highway towards Braidwood and to the beautifully sited rodeo location in the hills above town.

It was a day that threatened rain but the fast moving grey clouds just created great patches of light and shade, a photographers delight. At the time I didn't feel that confident with my new camera, I ordered but didn't have the telephoto extender lens I knew I'd need to get close to the action, but still I decided to go and try to capture it. As you'll see from the short bit of video below the event is probably better video territory. Not much of the man vs. horse violence comes through these photos and there was a lot of that on the day.

Friends Joh and Sam were there with their two small boys and Joh was preparing to take the kids home, leaving Sam transfixed by the spectacle. She said "It's like gladiators! I didn't know it was so exciting" and vowed to visit the next rodeo in a few weeks in Yass.

She probably caught the spirit of why it's attractive better than I could. I was looking at the 'kultchural' details (like noticing that in the main picture above there's only one person without a cowboy hat). I also wondered if Big Al the rodeo clown always got the exclusive fast food franchise as part of the performance gig? I watched a group of cowboy hatted teenage guys in a circle, hands behind their backs, tossing and catching a small stone with their boots, passing it from one to another. I saw the city girls dressing into 'country' as they arrived at the entrance, and the familiar local faces helping out in the sausage and steak sandwich shed. It's another Bungendore community event, the small country town on the edge of the city.

So I'm glad it happens here every year and I'll support it with my attendance (and intrude again with my camera). I don't see that it's cruel or should be banned. Sure it happens in a rarified and artificial environment but to me the horses still have the upper hand. Having been around a few wild horses (and thrown from some as well), what's displayed as entertainment here, is just an enhanced version of the relationship of man and horse that working country people know. The rodeo just brings it to city people.

The pictures tell the story as usual, the movie is better at showing how dangerous it is. There are two pages of 6 images (in a popup window) approx 200k.
Bungendore Rodeo images Page.1
Bungendore Rodeo images Page.2

Real media video clip 655k (download it)

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Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden