Living in a Marsupial World
 
Picture
After finally satisfying our need for some bushwalking and outdoor adventuring, we continued west on the Flinders Highway to make the Mount Isa Rodeo, Australia’s largest rodeo and apparently the second largest in the world. From what we had heard about “The Isa,” we were in for “the real Australia” where Mount Isa’s biggest claim to fame is its mining industry. We knew before we got there that, due to the huge draw of the rodeo, it was going to be hard finding a nearby campsite that wasn’t booked solid. Just to be sure, we stopped in at the local Information Center to see if they knew about any openings. In case you haven’t been to Oz or are planning on traveling there, these Info Centers are in nearly every substantial town in Australia, and can be a fantastic resource for finding out about anything from good local mechanics to upcoming festivals and markets that you wouldn’t otherwise discover. To our surprise, the one at Mt. Isa was offering its back yard as a rodeo overflow campsite. For a $20 donation to the Mt. Isa Outback Information Center, we were allowed to camp for two days in their back parking lot. This was really exciting, not only because we were a 10 min walk from the rodeo, but also because it meant that for the first time in a while, we would be sleeping on grass--soft, spongy, wonderful grass.

 


Picture
Picture
Picture
Being the only vaguely populated area for miles and miles around, I guess it makes sense that the rodeo was actually much smaller than we expected. Over many summers, Mar has gone to the Estes Park Rodeo in Colorado, and this rodeo seemed roughly the same size. The Isa Rodeo was however a bit surreal, because if you ignored the grating Aussie accents of the passersby, the scene as a whole felt like something straight out of the Heartland. At times it felt like you were in alternate dimension Wyoming, with leather-skinned cowboys donning Akubra hats rather than Stetsons, drinking Tooheys instead of Bud, and dancing to a country music band playing AC/DC covers rather than Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 


Picture
Picture
Picture
The whole event was tons of fun and brought Mar back to her wrangling days. She realized she was in serious horseback riding withdrawal. The main arena was open air, and we arrived in the afternoon when the sun was hitting the front and center rows. Since no one wanted to bear the heat, these seats were open and as we were all used to being out in the sun, we snatched up these prime pieces of event real estate. It was that much more awesome to watch the bull and bronc riders, barrel racers and ropers just feet away from us.


Picture
While camped behind the Info Center, we met a wonderful elderly couple from Tasmania who wanted to know all about us, where we’d been, where we were going, etc. When we mentioned we were heading to the Kimberly National Park after Darwin, the old man’s eyes lit up. An avid four wheel driver (though recently retired, it seemed), this man had driven throughout the Kimberly on its many 4WD tracks, as well as through some extremely remote parts of Australia which most sane people wouldn’t go near. Between stories of his adventurous youth, he remained adamant about us driving the Gibb River Road through the Kimberly. According to him, the Kimberly was Australia’s last frontier, where no sealed roads exist, and where some of the most beautiful scenery in the world can be found. While it sounded like an incredible opportunity for adventure, it also sounded like the potential destruction of Alby. He assured us that as long as we lowered our tire pressure a bit and drove slow we would not run into any problems and the benefits would far outweigh the risks. It was definitely something to seriously consider as we prepared for our push to Darwin the next morning.



Your comment will be posted after it is approved.


Leave a Reply.