Solar powered cowboy a bronc ride away from the big time
HE could have been home in Townsville sleeping in and taking it easy on the weekend, but no, 20- year- old refrigeration apprentice Tate van Wel was out at Mount Isa wrestling steers.
He was thinking about riding a saddle bronc. A fella’s got do what a fella’s got to do.
There’s just him, his bay steer wrestling mare, Peach, his ute that tows the horse float, his guitar and his swag.
He rolls his swag out in the float, gets out the guitar and sings about bulls “that ain’t never been rode” and “long nights behind the wheel, going down the road to the next rodeo”.
He’s got a little shade annexe set up beside his horse float in the competitors’ camping ground.
Everything is as it should be. There are even socks and jocks and rodeo jeans drying on a rope.
“Yeah, I’ve done my washing in a feed bucket,” he said.
As far as bachelor pads go, Tate’s setup is five- star. He’s got a car fridge in the back of the ute. His mates kid him that he looks like a grey nomad when he sets up his camp with solar panels.
“Yeah my mates have a go at me about the solar panels, but they’re always coming over to me on hot days and asking, ‘ Hey mate, you got any cold water in the fridge’?
“I like to say I’m a full- time cowboy and a fridgie on the side,” he said with a laugh. “I’ve been away rodeoing every weekend since Easter. I’m sort of looking forward to the season ending because I’m going broke paying nomination fees. It costs $ 190 to nominate out here. Sometimes I’m scratching the bottom of the ashtray looking for coins.”
Tate says he is still learning the intricacies of saddle bronc riding. He’s getting the cowboy philosophy down pat and this helps him deal with the hard knocks and learning curve that lies ahead.
Like an old pro he says that “every rodeo is another steer away, another bronc ride under your belt”.
The former Ryan Catholic College student has been on the road for a fortnight. He did the Cloncurry rodeo the week before Mount Isa.
So far he hasn’t managed to make the big money, but he’s got a feeling that it is just down the road, just around the bend at the next rodeo.