LONG RIDE TO A DATE WITH DUST

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN Re­gional Edi­tor john.an­der­sen@news.com.au

ALL over North Queens­land this week there will be cow­boys driv­ing long dis­tances over lonely roads play­ing the Ge­orge Strait song I Can Still Make Cheyenne in their mind.

It’s a song about rodeo and re­la­tion­ships and about how in the end rodeo al­ways wins. It’s a rodeo favourite. One of the cow­boys play­ing that song in his head this week is Nor­man­ton stock­man Nigel Gilbo, a trav­el­ling man if ever there was one.

Nigel, 35, has been work­ing sta­tions since he was 16. He started at Delta Downs north of Karumba, but has worked on most of the big places in the Gulf Coun­try. Now he’s em­ployed on the Stan­broke Pas­toral Com­pany’s Kami­laroi Sta­tion north of Clon­curry.

Nigel is what you might call “sad­dle born”. Last Wed­nes­day, with his chaps and bronc sad­dle in his gear bag he drove out of Nor­man­ton for Mount Isa, 500km away.

Apart from the words of that song go­ing round and round in his head, he had only one other thought go­ing through his mind and that was to draw good horses, ride time and use the spurs so that the crowds in the nose bleed sec­tion of the arena will be able to hear the ‘ buzz buzz’ of the row­els rak­ing across the horse’s withers. That’s what sol­diers might call the battle plan. Rodeo rid­ers al­ways have a plan, but when the lead starts fly­ing the plan goes out with the dish­wa­ter.

Nigel will have a plan, but in that light­ning strike of time on Satur­day when the chute gate flies open there will only be Nigel, the bronc, its eyes as big as saucers, and day­light. For a mo­ment in time, as the bronc looks out at the red dirt of the arena and Nigel looks down at its head, try­ing to judge which way it will jump, time stands sus­pended, the uni­verse is still.

And then in a mo­ment the horse ex­plodes from the chute. The red dust flies and the battle plan goes out with the dish­wa­ter. Horses and sta­tion life, cat­tle and yard work and long rides to water is what he’s known most of his life.

For Nigel Gilbo there is noth­ing more nat­u­ral than putting one boot on the top board of the chute, pulling him­self up and over the top rail and eas­ing him­self down into a sad­dle girthed to the back of a quiv­er­ing bronc.

This is what Nigel Gilbo lives for and it is what he’ll be do­ing at the Mount Isa Rodeo this Satur­day. If he gets a good horse and if he rides eight sec­onds, he just might make it into the money dur­ing the fi­nals on Sun­day.

And if he doesn’t make it at Mount Isa there is al­ways an­other rodeo. There’s al­ways an­other ‘ Cheyenne’.

Pic­ture: SCOTT RAD­FORD- CHISHOLM

SHOW TIME: Nigel Gilbo, 35, has trav­elled 500km from Nor­man­ton to com­pete in the Mount Isa Rodeo this week­end.

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