The Cobram Courier

Big equestrian facility bid

- By Robert Muir

A planning applicatio­n for an equestrian facility at Bundalong with big aims to hold Australia’s richest rodeo is before Moira Shire Council.

If approved, Bundalong could eventually host the biggest and richest equestrian events in Victoria, as well as conduct state and national championsh­ips.

A planning applicatio­n for the restricted recreation­al facility at Lots 1-19 on 49.4 hectares alongside the Murray Valley Hwy has been submitted to council. It has been on public exhibition and submission­s closed on March 9.

The approximat­e 10.75ha applicatio­n site is proposed to be establishe­d for horse husbandry which is an as-ofright agricultur­al use.

“The whole idea of the rodeos is aiming to get some young people involved in barrel racing, team roping and equestrian discipline­s,” joint property owner Brett Butler said.

“The Yarrawonga Rodeo is no longer held at the showground­s and I’ve had good support from the likes of Andrew McQualter-Whyte, Mick

Phibbs and Jamie Dowling to go ahead with this facility.”

Mr Butler, 49, is the licensee of the Bundalong Tavern and has had a keen interest in horses since about age 12.

He and family have holidayed in Yarrawonga for some 30 years and have been a Bundalong resident for the past decade.

They are proud of being a substantia­l

contributo­r to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, through the Bundalong Tavern.

“We’re trying to have a rodeo organised for our Good Friday Appeal — to help the little children in the Royal Children’s Hospital get better,” Mr Butler said.

“On average we’ve raised $28,000 a year in recent years for the Royal

Children’s — about the sixth or seventh-placed pub in Victoria. We could beat that this year with a rodeo.”

Rodeos attract big numbers of spectators, especially for major events which can have up to 60 competitor­s and 250 event staff, officials and family members.

The proposed major events are directed as charity days over weekends and would be sanctioned by Australian Profession­al Rodeo Associatio­n, Australian Team Roping Associatio­n and Australian Barrel Horse Associatio­n.

Approval for the recreation­al facility would also provide opportunit­ies for camping associated with the major equestrian events.

“A Finley rodeo attracted 8000 people last year,” Mr Butler said.

“Rodeos draw people from every state. All the cowboys and plenty of cowgirls come down for these events.

“Tourism is a big thing for Yarrawonga Mulwala. We have a lot of accommodat­ion. Rodeos bring people to town. The tourism is huge — not just for us, but for everybody. The economy gets a big lift.”

Bundalong-based Cr Peter Elliott of

Moira Shire Council is a supporter of the proposed facility.

“I’m hoping it can proceed because I believe it would be great for Bundalong, for all equestrian event competitor­s and supporters, and for our economy,” he said.

Highly successful horseman and mentor Andrew McQualter-Whyte from Lake Rowan said Mr Butler wants to make this the richest rodeo event in Australia.

“I believe he can achieve that,” the 51-year-old said.

“Brett wants to make this a real success and to become the central part of Victoria for the go-to-place — for cutting, camp draft, equestrian, rodeos, for new events such as ranch riding.

“I know authoritie­s would seriously consider Brett’s plans for state and national title events.”

Mr Butler’s plans have not been thought of overnight.

“Brett said a few years ago he’d like to set this up and he has put all his plans forward,” McQualter Whyte said.

“We need an arena, Brett has it. It’s a really great place.”

 ?? ?? Waiting: Brett Butler’s equestrian centre proposal is before Moira Shire Council.
Waiting: Brett Butler’s equestrian centre proposal is before Moira Shire Council.

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