I’ve been to Paradise…

This blog post comes to you with two warnings:

1. It’s long and image-filled.  It might take a little while to download – I would apologise but I think you will understand why I really couldn’t cut it back much when you read it.

2. The image material is a bit breath-taking.  Especially if you are any kind of horse-lover. Even if you’re not, I reckon you might be by the end.

So please gather refreshments and get yourself comfy…
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You see, we took the weekend off to visit an annual event near Rockhampton (Central Queensland) that is considered the Melbourne Cup of Campdrafting.  It’s big.  It’s HUGE actually.

The venue – named Paradise Lagoons – was the dream of a man called Graeme Acton. Mr Acton is a successful cattleman who absolutely loves campdrafting. Most campdraft arenas are multipurpose – usually a showgrounds with yards built into the side of the ring with sparse facilities for competitors.  Sometimes they are simply held in a paddock that gets slashed once a year for the sport.

In the spirit of Kevin Costner’s character from Field of Dreams, Mr Acton designed a place which caters for the campdrafter on a grand scale – a shaded camp area surrounded by lawned slopes and fabulous undercover bar and eating areas, THREE competitive arenas…
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…powered sites for goosenecks and horse trucks (similar to a caravan park)…

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and electronic scoreboards along with the most enormous screens to watch the action.

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Of course there were lots of fabulous stalls for the shoppers in the crowd too – clothes, jewelery, saddles, trucks, goosenecks…
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They even have a sandpit for the kids (in centre of pic below seperated by a concrete wall from the camp) to allow the adults to concentrate on the action without losing sight of their little ones!

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I love that they have thought of this!
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Pretty much every campdrafter worth his or her salt, dreams of competing here.

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A huge team of men and women organise many hundreds of competitors and cattle to ensure the richest campdraft in Australia (and I guess, the world) goes smoothly.
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All the rock stars of the Aussie cow horse world (both human and equine) were there, and the competition is incredibly fierce for the trophies and prizemoney (and prestige) up for grabs.

While three rings had campdraft action, cutting competition was also taking place in it’s own special arena…

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Cutting is an American sport and the horses are real purty.

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They tend to have flowing manes and crimped tails which emphasise the action as they dance back and forth, blocking a steer.

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Riders wear chaps and a more American-style of apparel is the accepted dress code.
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Campdrafters tend to wear a slightly different ensemble… no chaps and simpler saddlery (usually).
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Snaffle bits and stock saddles are the go – but blingy belts are totally allowed!

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There is one who rides in a green and red saddle – no prizes for guessing who that is.

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Mr Acton was right in the thick of the action – showing those young whippersnappers how it was done!

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After all – if you’re gonna build something like Paradise Lagoons (the Taj Mahal of Aussie Horse Sports) you’d want to be there looking to win it, wouldn’t you?

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He nailed a 90+ score in this round!

Okay – a little less conversation, a little more ACTION!

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The official presentations and speeches gave horses and audience a moment to catch their breath…

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Winners are grinners…

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For the non-campdrafters out there, this is legendary competitor Pete Comiskey. He’s like, the Mick Jagger of Campdrafting!  (Results here for hard-core fans).

Speaking of winners, you know you have a major event on your hands when the Premier drops in for a visit.
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‘Can Do’ Campbell Newman addressing the crowds – he received plenty of cheers for his attitude of action, and for his pledge to support rural industry.  I love the expressions of those behind him, don’t you?  Reckon they might be waiting to see results before they bust out in a Mexican wave…

We left Paradise for the trip home, happy and weary – and a tad blinged up.


Guess who? (Hint, not me!)


We talked him out of rhinestones – he adores this buckle!

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I’m just happy to sit back and reflect on the result of one man’s dream (followed through by a mountain of action!).

I have to say I am thoroughly inspired…

What’s your dream?

Have you done something to turn it into action?



14 Responses to “I’ve been to Paradise…”

  1. Great photos, wish I was there too. Next time?!

  2. what a wonderful post, I loved every pic and every word to explain them. this sounds like great family fun and good clean fun. thanks so much.

  3. I just went to mr Actons web page and watched the video, it was very interesting, that is a lot of acres and cattle.

  4. Wow! Great photos. A little over 12 months ago I had never seen or heard of cutting or campdraft, but since moving to rural Aus have had the opportunity to see both. Although I didn’t understand much of it, it was fascinating non-the-less. Thanks for a great post, sounds like you had a great time!
    Krystle´s last blog post ..I’m starting to think we can’t have it all. . .

  5. I had a friend travel up from Moree to attend. I am very pleased to see the brains behind the operation preserving his brains with a helmet! Good on him!
    That must be one hell of a zoom lens you have, or have done a fair bit of post cropping. Great photos well done.
    Mummaducka´s last blog post ..Back in the saddle with 7 things about me.

  6. Wow! For a moment I thought that Mr. I was COMPETING!~!!! This is exciting stuff alright. The trophies are works of art.
    Debby´s last blog post ..Fearmongering

  7. Loads of ooo’s and aaarrr’s from me! Very cool.

  8. My God – these shows have sure come a long way since my Moree days way back in the 1950′s. Like comparing an outside country ‘dunny’ to the Vatican, Schönbrunn Palace or the White House!
    Fantastic photography of the action, seeing is believing in this instance.
    Thank you for going to all the effort to bring this to your viewers.

  9. Well done photo’s are fantastic…keep it coming

  10. You’ve made me regret even moreso that we didn’t go out for a look, but with other events keeping us away from home the couple of days prior, we just needed to get back here. Always an amazing event, and Graeme has done so much to boost the profile of his sport. Paradise really is just that! Terrific post.
    Fiona´s last blog post ..Fettuccine, Flowers & Favourites

  11. Margie from New York Reply July 28, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Hey Bushbabe, what great pictures! it looks like a lot of fun your Campdrafting. Reminds me of the Rodeo, without the bucking horses and bulls.

  12. Carol/Red Dirt In My Soul Reply August 5, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Great photos! What fun that must have been…

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