A life lived on the back of a horse
AN unmistakable face in the Eidsvold crowd or at any campdraft event in the Burnett, Ronnie Bligh’s reputation goes before him as a great horseman and an exceptionally nice bloke.
Born in Eidsvold, Ronnie grew up around horses and cattle, and working with horses soon became a passion.
He said from the minute he dragged himself onto a horse’s back he knew he would ride forever.
“I was born in the war years and I remember my childhood quite clearly,” he said.
“We lived just out of Eidsvold and came to town for school and a bit of shopping.”
At 73, Ronnie rode in the Eidsvold Golden Bell Campdraft this month, and says that before he retires he wants to win that Golden Bell.
In about 1950 Ronnie’s mother got a job in the old Star Hotel and there was an old house next to the hotel so they moved in.
Ronnie had a good life education there and he went to Eidsvold School. He left school when he was 12 years old and got a job.
He went droving out of Eidsvold, down to Esk and then back in a three-week turnaround and then out again.
“There was always another mob of cattle to move down the trail in those days and I would spend the whole time on horseback,” he said.
“Then one day I was offered a job at Yaroka Station as a ringer and I took that without question.”
For 12 years from station to station, wherever the work took him, Ronnie worked as a ringer at Calrossie, Glencoe and the back to Calrossie.
There was always a chance to compete at the local rodeo and Ronnie was up for it at every opportunity.
Rodeo fever got him and it got him bad.
He teamed up with Tim Clancy, Jimmy King and
We camped on the side of the road in swags most of the time...
Digger Potter. They bought a Toyota one-tonne Scout and they were off to follow the rodeo circuit.
From South Australia to Mareeba and everywhere in between, the four boys earned a name for themselves as great riders of bareback, saddle broncos and bulls.
Roping and riding, earning and sharing, as they hit the road after each show.
“We camped on the side of the road in swags most of the time and if we ran out of money we would get a job fruit picking or mustering,” Ronnie said.
“We would stop on a station for a while during the muster and then move on to the next town, rodeo or just come back home to Eidsvold.”
In 1967 Ronnie Bligh met Hazel Bligh (to be) and in 1968 they married and started a family in Eidsvold.
Ronnie would go off on contract mustering and Hazel would stay home and looked after and raised two daughters and a son while working at the Eidsvold Hospital.
For 23 years Hazel worked at the Eidsvold Hospital until ill health stopped her and forced her home.
Ronnie had open heart surgery when he was 50 years old.
He was the fittest 50-year-old you would ever meet but heart attacks do not discriminate.
A triple by-pass and five stents later, Ronnie is still on a horse most days of the week.
He lost his beautiful Hazel from a heart attack in 2008 and lives alone in their family home.
“I love campdrafting and I have won some tough events over the years but I haven’t won the Eidsvold Golden Bell or the Monto Gold Buckle,” he said.
“I want to win both before I go.”
LEGEND: Ronnie Bligh is well-known in campdraft circles.