Goulburn Rodeo 50th anniversary

BAREBACK: Open bareback rider in 2017, some of the improved facilities the Rodeo club has progressively installed and upgraded. Photo Darryl Fernance
BAREBACK: Open bareback rider in 2017, some of the improved facilities the Rodeo club has progressively installed and upgraded. Photo Darryl Fernance

This Saturday Goulburn Rodeo Club celebrates its 50th anniversary rodeo.

Unlike in some past years the rough riding events will be spread throughout the day / night program. This includes open bull ride, saddle and bareback bronc rides.

This is to accommodate some competitors who need to leave early to get to another rodeo running the same day.

Goulburn Rodeo facilities are a far cry from the wooden arena of 50 years ago. The small but active club has worked hard to improve its facilities and to provide for the stall holders as well as the large number of spectators and competitors who attend each year.

 There have been many safety and livestock welfare improvements too but none of this would have happened without the original pioneers of the club.

In 1968, three well know local horsemen Bill Dutaillis, Reg Willoughby and John Gough got together over a beer at the old Goulburn Hotel to discuss rodeo in Goulburn. It didn’t take long before the Goulburn Rodeo Club was formed, and as the saying goes, ‘the rest is history’.

In the early days the arena for the rodeo was built out of round bush timber in the middle of the show ground. This required the committee to spend a lot of weekends before the rodeo out in the bush cutting the posts and rails and erecting them in the middle of the showground.

As the years progressed the club manufactured portable steel yard panels but these still had to be set up in the showground in the days leading up to the rodeo and removed on the Sunday morning after the rodeo due to having to lay a crossing over the race track and greyhound track so spectators could access the arena.

In 1979 the club was allocated an area adjacent to showground as a dedicated rodeo arena and the first rodeo was run in this arena in 1980. This area was once the Goulburn tip and you only had to dig down 200mm to find an car body or various rubbish.

The lush green grass and raised banks that you see today are a world away from what was handed to the club in the early days.

The dedicated rodeo arena and facilities are a testament to the thousands of hours of voluntary labour by successive committees over the years, along with the support of a few local businesses who are always ready to help with a donation or cost of materials. Much of this would not have happened without business such as Hollingsworth Cranes, Goulburn Engineering and Goulburn Produce and Rural Supplies.

It wasn’t until 1985 that we held our first rodeo under lights, greatly improving the rodeo experience for spectators.

STEER RIDE: At Goulburn's first rodeo in February,1968. Photo: from Goulburn Post's archives

STEER RIDE: At Goulburn's first rodeo in February,1968. Photo: from Goulburn Post's archives

In the early years there was an instance that can be remembered where more competitors entered then anticipated and the rodeo run late into the evening. Without lights on the arena the competitors of the bareback event had to put their gear on themselves and their horses by torchlight and buck out into the darkness. How the judges ever saw to award the points is still a mystery.

Over the years there have been some members who rate mention for their dedication and hard work for the club. These include Reg Willoughby who was a founding member is still an active member to this day and his tireless efforts he has been honoured with a life membership and life governor position.

Gloria & Merv Smith, Joe & Judy Cook and George Bocking who have put a lot of effort into the club back when running a rodeo was not as easy as it was today. Another committee member who has had significant influence on the club is Ross Griggs who is also a life member and life governor, he never fails to turn up to work on the day of the rodeo.

In later years we had Graeme Power, Chris Martin and Fiona Battiste who in some ways ushered the club into a new era where rodeo went from been an amateur sport to been more professional in the way it was run with things like contracted bucking stock and big prize money for events.

These people also set the club on the road to financial stability along with the construction of the new dedicated rodeo arena and facilities.

With Fiona Battiste as the treasurer for 20 years and keeping a close eye on the finances the club is set in a good position for the future.

In the early 70’s and 80’s the rodeo was a two day event with a campdraft running on the Saturday and the rodeo on Sunday. As it became harder to get cattle and committee member number drops off, as is the case with most voluntary organisations, the rodeo morphed into the format we have today.

In preparation for this rodeo we have upgraded the arena floodlighting to make it easier for our competitors and judges.

We have also ensured that our grassed areas are looking their best to make it comfortable for the families that are attending.

This year, as in previous years, we are welcoming approximately 50 clients and carers of local disability support groups to our rodeo. To ensure they can enjoy their rodeo experience we have set up a shaded area adjacent to the ring so they can watch all the action.

On Saturday February 17, you will see the culmination of 50 years of hard work by many committee members with a dedication with a dedication to see the sport of rodeo thrive and go on into the future for the next generation of contestants and rodeo fans and to allow the Goulburn Rodeo Club to keep giving back to the community by way of donations to local charities and community groups.

In the past 17 years the Goulburn Rodeo Club has donated over $142,000.00 back into Goulburn.

This year is also a big year for our rodeo as we are hosting the ABCRA Championship Rodeo, which will draw many of the best cowboys and cowgirls in Australia competing for the big prize money and championship buckles. 

On Saturday, the gates open at 9am with the first event expected to start at 10am.  Patrons must not erect shade cloths or tarps on or near the arena fence as these block the view of spectators behind you.

  •  No glass or alcohol is to be brought onto the grounds and no dogs are permitted either. Food, snacks and drinks are available with community groups staffing the bar, barbecue and the gate. There are other stalls including western gear and accessories and activities for kids too.