Rodeo evolved from everyday stock handling occurrences on cattle stations in the Australian Outback and ranches in the United States of America. To this day, it can well be known as a working sport. The first recorded rodeo in Australia was held in 1888 in Victoria, though it was not until 1944 that the first rules were defined and the first association created. R.M. (Reg) Williams (of the R.M. Williams clothing company) was the first secretary/ treasurer of the Australian Rough Riders Association (ARRA), which ran it’s first National Championships in 1945 in Prospect, South Australia. The association flourished for many years and had in excess of 13000 members in 1984 before undergoing a name change to become the Australian Professional Rodeo Association (APRA).
At a meeting in March 1946 in NSW, another association was formed. The NSW Bushman’s Carnival Association was created for the purpose of coordinating and assisting all carnivals conducted by affiliated committees. By 1960, along with the affiliation of committees from Queensland, the name was changed to the Australian Bushman’s Carnival Association, and another name change in 1985 gave us the Australian Bushman’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association (ABCRA), by which it is known today.
Contact with US Servicemen in the 60’s and 70’s saw rodeo influenced by the Western American styles of clothing, which today has become the image of rodeo and cowboys throughout the world. The camaraderie between competitors must be seen to be believed, for while they are competing against each other, they support and help their fellow competitors with vigor rarely seen in other modern sports.
Today there are a large number of rodeo associations including the ABCRA, the APRA, the National Rodeo Council (NRC), the National Rodeo Association (NRA), the Central Cowboys Rodeo Association (CNRA) and the West Coast Rodeo Association (WCRA). As one of the principal rodeo associations in Australia, the ABCRA has developed rapidly in recent years and representatives have been invited to attend and compete at the Calgary Stampede and the North American World Finals Rodeo in Denver, Colorado, and now in El Paso Texas. It is a testament to the quality of competition and events in Australia that members such as Scott Johnson, Darren Clark, Glen O’Neill, Peter Kelly and Adam Newman have won or been close to winning top international titles.