This time last year I was laid down with the flu, a present from the 2017 Mount Isa Rodeo.
It was annoying not only for health reasons but also because it meant I had to miss out on something I was looking forward to attending, the inaugural Gulf Frontier Days festival.
That festival was originally scheduled to be held at Doomadgee but last-minute logistical hitches forced a move to Burketown.
Too sick to travel, I had to make do with the extraordinary photos of the Australian and North American native dancing and the brave rodeo roughstock riders.
I was determined to make amends this year and I got my rodeo flu out of the way early this year, it being a Quamby rodeo flu not an Isa one.
So I was fighting fit and looking forward to a trip to the Gulf for Frontier Days Mark 2.
For this year’s event organiser Alec Doomadgee and friends had moved the event further down Waanyi country to Gregory.
And when I got there on Saturday the Gregory Downs racecourse was transformed into a concert venue the likes of which would have done Byron’s Splendour in the Grass proud.
Of course being in a remote location and coming just a week after Isa Rodeo, the crowds were nowhere near on a Byron scale but that just meant an even better experience for the lucky souls that did make the journey.
Alec’s philosophy is “build it and they will come” and he is certainly building a monumental festival that could easily rank with the best in the land.
That was reflected in the calibre of his musical talent.
Yothu Yindi, Jon Stevens, Archie Roach, Shellie Morris, The Flood were all there and all brilliant and they were supported by a host of excellent North American talent all with Indigenous links.
Yes this was an Indigenous-led festival and the only Indigenous rodeo in Australia, but it was also inclusive and preached a message of tolerance for all – a timely message given some of the bigotry and hate coming out of our narrow-minded politicians.
Gulf Frontier Days Festival is an awesome addition to our North West calendar and I will be back for sure in 2019, flu or no flu – Derek Barry