After hearing on the radio yesterday of a Campdraft at a property called Paradise Lagoons near Gracemere we got a little excited. After all we’ve been driving around this fair land for nearly six years hoping to chance upon a rodeo and now we’re close. A Campdraft is similar to a rodeo but there is no bull riding or buck jumping. It’s horse and rider competing with their skills to cut cattle out from the herd and this is the premier event on the calendar.
Paradise Lagoons is the headquarters of cattle baron the late Graeme Acton, Campdraft advocate and supporter.
Graeme Acton died in 2014 after his horse rolled on him in a Campdraft fall, he was 64. He and his brothers built a cattle empire with a number of properties totalling 3.87 million acres. (Source Wikipedia). Naturally he was on Australia’s Rich List.
We park the car and walk through rows of tent shops selling quality leather goods, furniture, belts, saddles and saddle blankets. Western clothing and elaborately tooled leather boots. Hats, magnificent hats. In fact cowboy hats for everyone of all ages. There’s even jewellery and a big representation by pearl companies. Yes, I hadn’t realised how well pearls look with blue jeans, Western shirts and an Akubra hat, but this is the de rigeur look here.
We watch riders cut beasts out from the mob and although we don’t know the rules we soon find ourselves ducking and weaving in our seats matching the riders moves.
It seems that there are two types of people here. In the minority are the Grey Nomads. The majority of course are the Campdraft folk and all from 4 to 84 are wearing ‘the uniform’ of Western gear. All are lean, fit and the women almost poured into perfectly fitting jeans. The fashion here is as highly competitive as the horsemanship and those pearls look fabulous. The men born in the saddle, bow legged of course.
Gracemere is a short drive west of Rockhampton, Qld. Check websites for annual Campdraft events around the country.