Crocodile Rock

Trip Start Feb 14, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Great Western Hotel

Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

After a quick visit to the garage, as a somewhat menopausal priscilla had been randomly overheating and needed some urgent attenion we made it to rockhampton.
Unfortunately there was nothing that rocked in rockhampton and on that basis it should be renamed dullhampton or tut-all-happens-here-hampton. This however should not be confused with not-hampton,where big gay al lives. Rockhampton proclaims to be the beef capital of australia with lots of iconic large cattle statue figures at every junctions, insert your own joke about big fat cows here.

"Laydeez and Gee-entlemen, welcome-to-the-Great-western-this-friday Niiiight. Have we got a show for you". It's friday night. It's 7:30pm. Jen and I are seated 12 rows up a rickety stand with a mild look of shock on our faces. The lights go down, along with the noise in the arena. A vibrant green light flickers on the brown earth, I recognise it as a laser and study it intenetly trying to see the pattern it traces. Is it a man?, or maybe a beer logo?,  no wait is it a truck? Actually for all I know it could be a unicorn. Fortunately I am saved from an epileptic seizure by the announcer who snaps me out of me reverie with another buttock clenching collection of clichés. "We are in the presence of Ger-rate-ness too-niight" he says before introducing our evenings entertainers one by one. Casting my eyes over the swaggering group gathered before us, I cock my head towards Jen "Seems to be a young mans sport" I say, "yes" she agrees "they're the only one's dumb enough to ride a Bull".

Before venturing any further, I wish to say the venue for our first (only) Rodeo couldn't have been better. On the corner of 2 streets the Great Western Hotel ticked all the boxes on our 'rodeo experience' check sheet. Neon bull sign - check. Saloon doors - check. All male clientell wearing jeans, boots, chequered shirt and ridiculously large stetson style cowboy hat - check. So far, so good. We even enjoyed the feeling of being I.D.'d at the door (yes, both of us!). Plus with the prospect of finding ourselves unable to stifle a 'YeeeHaaar'  inside the pub and avoid the ensuing brawl we had already spent 5 minutes sat in the car shouting "there's a snake in my boot' and 'nice shoot'n stranger' to get it out of our system.

With hopes almost as high as the barmans jeans we settled into our seats to watch the first victim. The general rules of the sport dictate that the rider must stay on the bull for at least 8 seconds, using only one hand to score any points, those points varying depending on the size and aggression of the bull. Clearly somebody thought riding a 1000lb bull was too easy in itself so devised ways and means to agitate them aswell. 'Rodeo bull poker' (not to be confused with a card game) is not really CV material but the chap in question took his job seriously. Protected from the already cheesed off animal by a sturdy cage the aforementioned gentleman would take a pointy stick and poke the bull on it's arse, if that didn't piss him off he'd poke him in the nuts. That generally did the trick. Bear in mind the rodeo riders rope is not only looped under the bull but also attached to his (the bulls that is) 'fun bags' and you get an idea of why he's so keen to have the rider off his back. About 6 bone jarring seconds later when the the rider was deposited heavily on the ground he would drag his sorry ass out of the arena to a waiting medical tent. In the space of an hour and a half two riders walked away with suspected broken collar bones, one with a dislocated shoulder and another hobbled off with a broken ankle (yes he actually walked off). Christ alone knows how painful it was removing his boot though). As the lights came down for the second and final time in the evening we headed back to the YHA safe in the knowledge we had an actual bed to sleep in. All be it a bed in a room slightly smaller that a prison cell, next to a bunch of noisy knobbers. the Lord giveth etc etc etc....    

On our way out of 'rocky' we stopped at a crocodile farm to brush up on our 'Croc avoidance skills' as we were headed north and that's where they all live. Safely stood behind two fences we watched as a young man diced with death feeding crocodiles chickens heads while talking to them as though they were naughty schoolkids. Scariest of all was being unable to spot a 5m (16.4 foot) croc in 50cm of water. Great. So added to killer spiders and killer snakes (9 out of the 10 deadliest in the world live here) we have added killer jellyfish (you can't swim in the sea in Queensland without stinger nets) and killer crocodiles, so it'll be pools all the way for us then!

Next stop, The Farm.......
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