Just eight seconds from glory
WHEN 16-year-old Josh Lock meets with his school’s career councillor he will explain that his ambition is to travel to Las Vegas, ride wild bulls and share in $3 million of prizemoney.
Today is one of the few opportunities for North Coast residents to see the Australian Junior Steer Riding Champion in action. He is one of 150 cowboys competing in the Alstonville Rodeo.
Josh, whose family owns a property on the edge of Alstonville, will be riding bulls not steers today.
The young man, who already walks with a cowboy’s gait, is currently placed second in the national junior bull riding competition.
“The aim is to stay on for eight seconds because you get scored in that time and I usually manage to stay on for the whole time,” he said.
The Alstonville High School student followed his father into rodeo riding.
He said his school friends ‘respect’ his hobby.
“They’ve been asking if I’m riding and they are going to come along,” he said.
Josh will compete as a junior until he is 18, meaning he can only ride beasts weighing less than 500kg.
Open division riders take on bulls weighing up to 1000kg.
Alstonville and Maclean are the only North Coast towns that run a full rodeo program.
That means bull, bronco and steer riding, calf roping and barrel racing.
“You don’t think of Alstonville as a rodeo town, like Tamworth or Toowoomba, yet it’s been going here since the 1950s,” Alstonville Rodeo Committee president, Tony Rippon, said.
He said the number of event entrants grew every year, because riders knew they were guaranteed quality stock.
The cattle are trucked in from Chinchilla, Queensland, while the horses are bought in from Killarney, Queensland.
The competitors also come from as far away as central Queensland.
Alstonville Rodeo, which draws a crowd of up to 5000, offers just under $10,000 in prizemoney.
“The riders that come here are serious – they go hard,” Mr Rippon said.
“One young fellow once said to me once, ‘I don’t drive 6000km for a haircut’.”
The rodeo will have a feature ride – Queensland bull, Jumble in the Jungle.
“No one has ever managed to stay on for eight seconds on that bull,” Mr Rippon said.
“But if you do there’s $1000 in prizemoney for you.”
The feature ride is only open to competitors leading the points tally in the open bull riding division.
Funds raised by the rodeo will be donated to children’s charity, Camp Quality.
Gates at the Alstonville Showground open at midday. The rodeo kicks off at 2pm. Entry is $30 per family, $15 for adults.