So­lar pow­ered cow­boy a bronc ride away from the big time

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN

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.

PART TIME FRIDGIE: Tate van Wel, 20, pic­tured with Peach at his Mount Isa rodeo camp­ing site. Pic­ture: SCOTT RADFORD- CHISHOLM

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