For centuries rodeos have displayed outback culture, showcased the stories, the spectacles, the people and everything in-between and that’s why the National Finals Rodeo will be coming in hot to the 2017 Cully Outback and Aboriginal Folk Festival on the 17-19 November at the Toowoomba Showgrounds.

By Tristan Evert

Rodeos, or as they used to call them bushman carnivals have a long and successful history in the Australian Outback. Dating way back to the late 1800’s, rodeos have brought excitement and life to country towns across this wonderful nation. People journeyed from far and wide to spectate the very best, try their luck riding bulls, horses and showcasing their many talents. For some rural towns rodeos were a significant economic boost and were often held to raise money for returned soldiers and hospitals after the second world war.

One of the first recorded rough riding events occurred in 1888 when the National Agricultural Society of Victoria hosted a rodeo at their annual show. For many bush men and women rodeos were a way of life, an income and a ticket to travel. During the 1990’s a number of Australian and international Wild West shows toured the country. Wirth’s Wild West show was one of the prominent Australian acts who went on to tackle the world.

Lance Skuthorpe, The Gill family, Colin McLeod and Thorpe McConville all toured the country with their rough riding shows. These shows were unique and highly entertaining as spectators experienced everything outback. It was not only bull and horse riding but also whip cracking, performing dogs, ponies and rope swinging. However, due to the Great Depression in 1930 most of these shows had to call it quits.

One of the biggest rodeos of it’s time was organised in Adelaide in 1927 attracting a massive crowd of approximately 50’000. From then on rodeos grew substantially in popularity. Melbourne hosted a rodeo attracting both international and national talent and following its success New South Wales jumped on board, planning an international rodeo for the Sydney show.

The 1930’s saw a rapid change in the Australian rodeo scene. America was decades ahead in terms of style and Australia was only just catching on at this stage. In 1930 a rodeo held in Warwick, Queensland adopted a similar American style by introducing clowns, ropers and trick riders. The rodeo scene was changing and it was growing. A number of outback Queensland towns followed suit with rodeos popping up in Charters Towers, Goondiwindi, Hughenden, Ingham, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

Home to the ladies’ rodeo club Sydney became a rodeo mecca. It hosted massive rodeos, attracting the most talented cowboys from Australia, Arizona, California and Texas. Australia was capturing international attention for it’s pumping rodeos. The Australian Bushmen’s Carnival Association produced a team to travel to North America in 1982 to compete, finishing a tidy 6th place.

The rise of women in rodeo begun to take place in the 1970’s with Warwick’s, Mrs. Irene Kinast strongly pushing for a women’s competition. She created the National Miss Rodeo contest, in which the first champion was Sharon McTaggart, residing form Victoria. Irene furthered her passion for women’s rodeo developing strong ties with Miss Rodeo Canada and America. She even went on to help establish Miss rodeo in New Zealand. Women’s rodeo was now becoming perusable and realistic and 1992 saw the foundation of the National Rodeo Queen Quest to encourage young women to have a go and get involved in the sport.

Nowadays rodeos are biggest in Queensland.

There’s the Warwick Rotary Rodeo, the Mareeba rodeo, Warwick Rodeo and each year the national titles are held on the Gold Coast. New South Wales still host large scale rodeo’s in Tamworth and Walcha hosts a four-day camp drafting and rodeo competition annually.

Incredible livestock have come to light throughout the prestigious rodeo history. Bobs, Rocky Neal and Grey Mare were a few of the prominent buckjumpers. Rocky Neal earned legend status after several riders claimed to be the only one to ever ride the four legged fury. At an incredible 27 years old Rocky Neal was still Australia’s most feared and successful buckjumper. He bucked any one who dared grace his saddle, going unridden from 1934-1940. Chainsaw was possibly Australia’s most famous bull and very few were able to tame that beast. Only nine riders scored on Chainsaw, who went on to win a record eight bull of the year titles from 1987-1994.

National Finals Rodeo

Paul Smith photograph

Cully Fest in 2017 is offering you a unique chance to dive into Australia’s remarkable outback history by coming along to the National Finals Rodeo from 5pm Friday 17 November 2017 Clive Berghoffer Event Centre Toowoomba Showgrounds.

Sit back and enjoy an entertaining, action packed rodeo full of some of the countries best riders and toughest livestock. Tickets are only $25 for an adult, $5 for kids if you BOOK ONLINE NOW saving $10 per Adult at the gate.

If your after an even better deal head on over to our website and grab yourself an all inclusive three-day festival pass or an upgrade to Cully Fest from 9pm after the rodeo where you can enjoy great entertainment by The Mad Mariachi and The Settlement on Main Stage or Willie Nelson’s Lovechild Show and Dezzsie D and the Stingrayz in the Glenvale Room.  To see more of What’s on at Cully Fest!

Get in quick and secure a ticket and save. The 2017 Cully Fest will be a family friendly three-days jam packed with entertaining and educational workshops, music, arts, culture and now the National Finals Rodeo.

sensational performers at Cully Fest include Killing Heidi, Pierce Brothers, In Stereo and many more.  It will be the last chance to

Further Information

Tristan Evert Cully Fest Media Mob: 0426 613 224 email:

Jason Hall National Rodeo Association Mob: 0428 280 097 email: