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Rodeo (c.1934)


This documentary is about a rodeo held in northern Queensland in approximately 1934. It features 500 participants parading through the streets of Townsville; buck jumping and calf-riding competitions as well as the main rodeo at Mount St John; and the thousands-strong crowd gathered to watch the event. The film is silent and contains intertitles.

Curator’s notes

This rodeo, one of the largest in Australia at the time, was organised entirely for charity by Townsville entrepreneur John Robinson, Esquire, and his four sons. The Robinsons were a well-known family in the area and owned a number of properties in Townsville (see the Robinson Brothers butchery shopfront at the beginning of clip one) and Mt St John where this rodeo was organised. John Robinson had been responsible for Australia’s first bullfight the previous year, which was held in Townsville. The bullfight’s success probably encouraged Robinson to arrange this rodeo.

The film records a significant event for Townsville and surrounding areas. The large crowds would have raised a lot of revenue for local businesses as well as the unnamed beneficiary charity. The film may have been released overseas (through British-Australian Talking Pictures) and almost certainly screened to cinema audiences in the area. Sequences in the film appear to have been edited to entertain local viewers (see the hallucinating beer-drinking man in clip two) who were present at the event.

Rodeo was filmed for producer Robert Fearne-Steele and British-Australian Talking Pictures. Not a lot is known about Fearne-Steele or how he came to make this film. In 1935, he made a documentary about the Aboriginal community on Palm Island and shortly after moved to New Zealand where he remained working until his death in the late 1970s.