Top 12 things to see and do at Mount Isa Rodeo in 2019

Photo credit: Outback Drones

In 2019, the mighty Mount Isa Mines Rodeo celebrates 60 years of legendary rodeos in August. It’s time to tick it off your bucket list, grab your hat and boots and head to Outback Queensland.

It’s official – the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo won the Best Festival and Event award at this year’s Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. It’s no wonder the biggest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere is on many traveller’s bucket list. We’ve compiled a list of the 12 things not to miss at the Isa Rodeo. Which one is your favourite?

1. Rai Thistlethwayte rocking Isa Street Festival

Welcome to Mount Isa!  Opening the rodeo celebrations, come and join the Isa Street Festival on Wednesday night (August 7) in the main street.  Entry is free and the festival kicks off at 5pm with a fun street parade full of cowboys and cowgirls on horseback and colourful floats. There are food and market stalls, a licensed beer garden and plenty of free kids activities. Grab a pic and autograph from Rugby legend Johnathan Thurston before Rai Thistlethwayte, of “Thirsty Merc” fame brings his band and love of classic rock, pop and jazz to perform a free concert and fireworks light up the sky.

2. The best cowboys and cowgirls

Check out all the adrenalin-pumping action at Mount Isa’s four days of rodeo competition, including bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback, steer wrestling, roping, ladies barrel racing and breakaway roping. A record $230,000 in prizes (cash and buckles) is up for grabs.  The top cowboys and cowgirls from all over Australia and New Zealand will compete for their chance to be crowned champions in their events. You won’t want to miss it!

3. The chute tour

Available to Gold Seat holders, go behind the scenes on a limited, up close and personal Chute Tour.  Catch a cowboy’s eye view at what goes on when getting into the chute when they prepare to ride a one tonne bull or bucking bronc.  You don’t get much closer than this, unless you’re in the saddle. The tours are guided by Isa Rodeo Queens and the rodeo protection athletes. This is the ultimate first-hand rodeo experience. Yee hah!

4. ‘The Voice’ live in the arena

Last year we had Barnsey, this year Farnsy! Australian music legend John Farnham will rock the rodeo stadium, headlining the Live in the Arena concert on Sunday night (August 11). Get ready to kick up the red dirt as a stage will be built inside the famous Buchanan Park arena where bulls and broncs were bucking just a couple of hours before in the rodeo finals. Universally known as The Voice, Farnham will be joined by Queensland favourites, Busby Marou, Brad Cox, Blake O’Connor and Dee Jaye Bux. This concert is ticketed separately from the rodeo, available either as part of the three day rodeo ticket package or just the concert ticket. Treat yourself to one of the limited VIP tickets with seating inside the arena and full catering.

5. Rodeo rock concerts

Lee Kernaghan will take the stage at the 2019 Isa Rodeo

Rodeo thrills and spills will be followed into the nights by the Rodeo Rock live concert series. Birds of Tokyo and Oakwood will rock Friday night (August 9), and Lee Kernaghan, Casey Barnes and Blake O’Connor on Saturday night (August 10). And it’s all included in your Rodeo Pass! When rodeo is over for the day, the action shifts to the Wardles Main Stage – grab your Akubra and kick up some dust at these live shows.

6. Mailman Express

Enjoy the speed and adrenaline of the Mailman Express; a non-thoroughbred time trial horse race.  The race is held on Thursday night (August 9) and takes place over a 200 metre straight on the Buchanan Park racetrack.  Named in honour of the late Wally Mailman – a champion rough rider, rodeo judge and racing steward in Mount Isa and also father of actor Deborah Mailman. This race is sure to get your blood pumping!

7. Isa Rodeo Hall of Fame

With a rodeo that’s been legendary since 1959, don’t forget to head to the award-winning Outback at Isa to check out the Isa Rodeo Hall of Fame. This new attraction is just the place to learn more about the biggest rodeo in the Southern Hemisphere and the cowboys and cowgirls who have put the event on the world rodeo map.

8. Go glamping

This year there are a limited number of gorgeous glamping tents which will be set up and ready to go for three nights of rodeo. The three day package includes a fully set up 6 metre pop up bell tent, comfortable bed, beautiful bed linens and blankets, furniture including bedside tables, chairs, lighting and a relaxing shared common area. Bonus, they’ll even throw in a delicious hot cooked breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday of rodeo weekend.

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9. To market, to market

When you need a break from the adrenalin-pumping action in the arena, don’t miss having a wander through the markets. Here you will find the perfect souvenir of your rodeo weekend. It’s hard to resist the beautifully-tooled leather belts, the colourful array of cotton western shirts or a pair of boots. It’s an alcohol-free zone with tables and chairs set up in a welcoming shady area, a short stroll from the arena and just the spot to grab a freshly brewed coffee or delicious snack.

10. Fanzone Cowboy Corner

Here’s your chance to grab a selfie with a champion cowboy or cowgirl. The special REX Fanzone is just the spot to meet some of the star competitors, who will be happy to have a chat about what’s involved in the sport of rodeo.  The rodeo stars and entertainers will be dropping by to sign autographs, and have a friendly chat with rodeo-goers.

11. Sunset tours

There are some great new tours available – choose from a two hour city tour to a visit to the former Mary Kathleen uranium mine, or to spectacular Lake Moondarra (16km from the CBD) at sunset for a sundowner with North West Tours.

12. Rodeo spirit – it’s a thing

There’s no doubt that the spirit of rodeo takes over Mount Isa for the week.

Join in the fun by dressing in “western” gear – jeans, check shirt and an Akubra or bush hat, and check out the shops taking part in the Best Dressed Competition.

If you’ve forgotten your gear, pay a visit to Rodeo HQ at Buchanan Park where you’ll find the perfect souvenir of your outback adventure.

Looking for other things to do in Mount Isa?


Are you heading to the Mount Isa Rodeo this year?

Post sponsored by the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo