Six legends of Mount Isa Rodeo have been added to the Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Thursday at Outback at Isa.
The Hall of Fame opened last year with 12 original inductees and a now further three competitors and three Rotarians have been added to the list, and all six have helped the rodeo grow to where it is today.
Mount Isa Mines Rodeo CEO Natalie Flecker said the six 2019 inductees had made an incredible contribution to the rodeo itself and the sport of rodeo.
Rodeo board chair Darren Campi reminisced on the first rodeo at Kalkadoon Park 60 years ago.
"The first ever rodeo in 1959 called the Centenary Rodeo had a stockman's dance horse racing, a wild steer race, a station buck jumping championships with a prize pool of over £500 on offer," Mr Campi said.
"The original committee were successful with their business and wanted to put Mount Isa on the map."
Mr Campi said over the years the event grew and now injects $10 million a year into the local economy and the Hall of Fame inductees thoroughly deserved their honour.
The inductees are rodeo legends Garry McPhee, Scott Fraser and John Brearley and Rotarians Rex Blake, Ray Donaldson (died 1984) and Russell Collins (died 2016).
Garry McPhee excelled in all aspects of rodeo, and in the 1970s won four Australian All-Round Championships and 13 other national titles. His horsemanship, roping skills and capacity to breed and train outstanding quarter horses saw him dominate Australian Rodeo's roping and steer wrestling events for decades, winning 17 national titles throughout his career. In 1979, Garry formed the McPhee Rodeo Company to develop Australia's toughest and most consistent bucking stock. Over the ensuing four decades, the McPhee stable which included the magnificent 'Chainsaw', collectively won more than 70 national bucking titles - Saddle Bronc of the Year, Bareback Horse of the Year and/or Bull of the Year. More than 40 years after first competing at the Isa Rodeo, Garry remains a force in team roping and willingly imparts his lifetime's knowledge and experience to young competitors.
Widely regarded as the most outstanding rough stock rider in the history of the APRA, second-generation Wilmington cowboy, Scott Fraser, is the only Australian to have won all three rough stock events in the same American PRA rodeo and still holds the Australian record for most prizemoney earned in a single year. As well as being a four-time winner of the Isa Rodeo's All Round Cowboy title, some of Scott's other prestigious awards include: 1997 Pro Tour All Round Cowboy, Bull Ride, Bareback and runner-up Saddle Bronc 1996 Australian Bull Riding Champion, Pro Tour All Round Cowboy, Saddlebronc, Bull Ride and Bareback Champion, 1995 Australian Bull Riding Champion, 1994 Pro Tour All Round Cowboy, Saddlebronc, Bull Ride and Bareback Champion
Melbourne-born John Brearley first competed in country Victorian rodeos in 1963. After completing his plumbing trade in 1969, he began travelling to compete in rodeos throughout the country. Although an all-rounder, John's favourite events were bareback and steer wrestling. In 1975 and 1977, he won the national Bareback title and in 1975 was also the national Steer Wrestling champion. Additionally, in 1972 and 1975, John also won the Isa Rodeo's All Round Cowboy title. As captain of the team of eight riders representing the Australian Government on the American Rodeo Circuit in 1976, John twice drew and rode the infamous 'Necklace', and placed fourth in the bareback average at the Cheyenne Rodeo. For John, 2019 represents 50 years of participation in the Isa Rodeo. After retiring from competing in 1983, he continued contributing to his sport as a judge. Although an experienced all-rounder, his passion is for judging the timed events.
Carpenter Rex Blake joined the Mount Isa Rotary Club in the late 80s and a few years later was one of four Mount Isa Rotarians working as part of a foreign aid delegation to build a High School in a remote region in Papua New Guinea. This selflessness summarises Rex's over 30 years as a Rotarian, which saw him serve an unprecedented two terms as club president and honoured with countless awards for community service. Rex's carpentry skills and well-equipped work truck proved priceless during the myriad working bees held before staging each rodeo. He served as Grounds and Security Director at Kalkadoon Park for many years before amusingly thinking he'd step back into the less physical role of Bar Director. Rex's 2007 experience as Bar Director for the first Isa Rodeo held at Buchanan Park was immortalised in a Bret Currie 'pub with no beer' cartoon. By Saturday evening, patrons had literally drunk the bar dry, leaving Rex to beg and borrow from every possible source to meet demand.
Part of the rodeo since inception and a charter member of Mount Isa South Rotary Club in 1967, Ray Donaldson's passion and selfless service saw him serve as Rodeo Chairman from 1977 until his death in 1984. His stewardship of the Isa Rodeo resulted in major upgrades to facilities at Kalkadoon Park and Carrandotta and he personally sought new sponsors and greatly nurtured existing relationships in order to constantly grow the event. Heavily supported by wife Elaine, Ray's massive commitment meant the Donaldson children thought it perfectly normal to spend every weekend either at Carrandotta Station or playing at Kalkadoon Park where their parents became 'worker bees'. Ray's most lasting legacy was in establishing Bell & Moir Toyota's relationship with the iconic event. More than 50 years later, Ray's company remains a major supporter of the Isa Rodeo and Bell & Moir Toyota's donation of vehicles for the annual art union has raised millions for the local community. Ray's service saw him named a Paul Harris Fellow as was Bell & Moir Toyota, several times over.
Russell joined the Mount Isa Rotary Club in 1987 after moving to Isa from Boulia and later served a term as club president. In 1987, Russell succeeded Don Cummings as Rodeo and Campdraft Arena Director and he continued in this very demanding role until moving to Rockhampton in 1998 and handing the baton to Alf Horne. Named a Paul Harris Fellow for his community contribution, under Russell's leadership the Isa Rodeo underwent massive changes. He is widely acknowledged for professionalising the event and kick-starting its metamorphosis into the smooth-flowing, action-packed, spectator-focused sporting spectacle it is today. Some of Russell's most outstanding achievements as Arena Director include: Introducing consistent, reliable contracted bucking stock so riders had the best opportunity to showcase their skills, Installing temporary fencing to shorten the arena for bulls, Introducing big screen telecasts/replays, Inviting prominent Australians including Darryl Eastlake to participate, Greatly increasing corporate sponsorship. Post-Mount Isa, Russell joined the board of the APRA and served five years as executive chairman.
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