By HARRY CLARKE
TRAVELLING all the way to Brisbane from their home in faraway Mount Isa, rodeo siblings Byron and Willow Kirk came to crack the whip in a room full of politicians at Parliament House.
As a bonus, their efforts may have helped to discipline a few of Queensland’s elected officials, but the main reason for their visit to the halls of government was to promote the state’s most exciting new tourism event.
In 2022, organisers behind the iconic Mount Isa Rodeo will be holding a ‘Road to Rodeo’ event in the outback town of Longreach.
Set down for next year’s May long weekend, Road to Road – An Isa Rodeo Experience will bring all the action of Queensland’s famous Mount Isa Rodeo to a new audience at Longreach.
Coverage of the 2021 Mount Isa Rodeo by COUNTRY CALLER
The event will be the first in a new four-rodeo series across Queensland by 2024, representing a long-term economic injection to the state of over $4 million and accommodating the ever-growing sport of rodeo.
“In 1959, a group of passionate Rotarians with an intrinsic sense of potential formed Isa Rodeo,” said Isa Rodeo CEO Natalie Flecker (pictured).
“Their vision was to put the remote town of Mount Isa on the map and raise funds for local charities. Over 62 years of whip-cracking vision and dedication, this event has evolved into one of legendary status globally.
“Labelled as one of the most electrifying events in the country, the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo is on the bucket list of many, has won numerous awards and generated millions of dollars in economic benefit to Mount Isa, Outback Queensland and Queensland.
“Now, it’s time to take this experience state-wide and develop, champion and share it across Queensland.
“Longreach, in the heart of Outback Queensland, is the perfect first location. It is a proud rodeo-loving region, it’s home to the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and has a long rodeo and campdrafting history.
“As we re-open borders and reconnect with Australia’s own backyard, Road to Rodeo Longreach is set to be one of the must-attend events of 2022, and a new annual event on the calendar.”
Byron Kirk, 8, and Willow, 6, are miniature stars on Queensland’s rodeo circuit. Byron is the reigning Mount Isa Rodeo poddy calf ride champion while Willow is the state’s cutest line dancer and pony barrel racer.
The siblings were joined by champion cowboy Troy Wilkinson, who in August took home $30,000 in prize money by winning his first, long awaited Mount Isa Rodeo open bull ride trophy belt buckle.
“It took me nearly 10 years to get my first win at Mount Isa. It’s the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere and such a prestigious rodeo event,” Wilkinson said.
“If you compete in rodeo, you want to win at Mount Isa. Anything that adds excitement to the challenge of winning Mount Isa is a good thing.
“It think it (the Road to Rodeo event series) is a fantastic idea. It creates opportunities and pathways for us competitors, and I can’t wait to see how it grows.”
As well the thrilling rodeo arena events such as rough stock riding, roping and barrel racing, there’ll also be a raft of other entertainment offering which rodeo audience have com to expect.
Rising country music star James Johnston performed at the launch event at Parliament House. He’ll be joined on the bill at Longreach by renowned country musicians, The Wolfe Brothers.
Tourism Minister Sterling Hinchliffe said the government was excited to continue working with the Mount Isa Rodeo committee to boost the profile of our iconic outback sports and tourism.
“The partnership that the Palaszczuk Government has, through Tourism and Events Queensland, with Mount Isa Rodeo has been outstanding,” Mr Hinchliffe said.
“When I heard that there was a prospect to take a little bit off that joy and opportunity further afield and have a Road to Rodeo, and see the first of those events being launched at Longreach, I was very excited.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for that partnership to be extended and I look forward to that opportunity to work together in supporting the outback.
“The idea of having an event in April that will lead into the great event that happens downs the road in Mount Isa is a tremendous way of extending the experience for more people.”
Follow the Country Caller for more information about the Road to Rodeo as the event approaches on April 30 – May 1.