10 May 2023

Town's buzzing for annual rodeo

| Sarah Martin
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EXCITEMENT levels are at fever pitch as Weipa prepares for the annual rodeo – formerly known as the Bullride – this Friday and Saturday night.

Organisers have promised this year’s event will be the biggest yet, with a grand opening and light show held on both nights, as well as the first-ever Cape of Origin series and a host of PBR cowboys and bulls competing.

Weipa Rodeo Association president Russell Scikluna said he wanted locals to feel like they were at the PBR, without having to leave town.

“That’s what this event is all about, the community coming together and putting on a show and giving back to the town and our young riders,” he said.

“We have more than 30 volunteers here, taking the week off work to set up, and our local Weipa and Cape businesses – just how good are they!

“Without them, this event wouldn’t happen.”

Mr Scikluna said more than 80 generous businesses had got on board as sponsors, with some giving up to $30,000.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to realise how much this event means to the community and the support we get, whether it is big dollars or small, it is all so appreciated,” he said.

More than 5000 people are expected through the gates across both nights, with the event running until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

“We have a 15-ride event, and with nominations completely full, we will have over 200 rides,” Mr Scikluna said.

“There are 45 poddy riders and 35 junior steer riders alone, which is great because we are all about giving back to these young kids, there’s so much talent up here in the Cape.”

Mr Scikluna’s own family, as well as working behind the scenes organising the event, will be stepping into the spotlight as competitors.

“My oldest daughter is 14, she’ll be riding, my son’s 12 and he’ll ride. My youngest daughter is 2, and she wants to ride, but she’s not old enough yet!”


WORLD champion cowboy Troy Dunn is already in Weipa for a week of coaching and community visits across the Cape.

The four-time Team Australia PBR coach, two-time PBR world finalist and eight-time PBR world finals qualifier is the only Australian ever to be crowned PBR World Champion and has more than 40 years of bull riding experience.

Dunn heads to Aurukun on Tuesday and Weipa schools on Wednesday, where he will spend time with locals and students, providing demonstrations, sharing his knowledge and running novelty events with the youngsters.

“I’ve only been up the Cape once before, to the Weipa Rodeo in 2006 with bull rider Ben Jones, he road the feature bull and I did some community stuff similar to what I’m doing this year,” he said.

On Thursday, Dunn will pass on some of his knowledge to registered Weipa Rodeo riders at a free rodeo school at Andoom Oval. Later that night he will join the PBR cowboys for a free public meet and greet, also at the rodeo grounds.

For young riders aiming to make it big in the world of rodeo, Dunn is an icon, having made a living from rodeo since the 1990s, travelling to Brazil, Mexico, Canada and the US, including several stints living overseas with his young family.

Despite winning the World Champion buckle in 1998, Dunn said his most memorable ride was the year prior in Las Vegas.

“I was in the final round of the world finals and was last and under a fair bit of pressure,” he said.

“I had to get an 89, and the bull I got, Red Wolf, had thrown me off earlier that year, and had actually stepped on another rider’s head and killed him.

“But I ended up getting a 95 on him and won the world finals, so that’s probably my most memorable ride.”

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