How The ABCRA Started

The sports of Campdrafting and Roughriding in Australia were born in the bush. Men of the country pitted their riding skills and horseflesh against on another … as entertainment in harsh conditions. Stock "camped" for the night, were "drafted" to demonstrate who was the superior horseman and who had the best horses. From this simple beginning, the uniquely Australian sport of "Campdrafting" developed.

A Brief History of Campdrafting & Rodeo in Australia

The wild brumby and range stock proved to be an exhilarating test of man’s courage, tenacity and skill. Travelling tent rodeos such as Skuthorpes, were a regular sight in the 1920’s and 30’s, with circuit competitors and spectators alike, having a go in the ring. Bushmen’s Carnivals originated in Northern NSW in the 1920’s and were well established by the 1930’s. The end of World War II saw a revival of the carnivals and the birth of the tradition of donating proceeds to local charities.

On the 28th of March 1946 at the Imperial Hotel in Maitland NSW, a meeting was held and an association to be known as the Northern NSW Bushmen’s Carnival Association was formed for the purpose of coordinating and assisting all carnivals conducted by affiliated committees.

By 1954 affiliation of committees from Queensland, the name was changed again in 1960 to The Australian Bushmen’s Carnival Association. In 1985, on July 17th, the association became a company limited by guarantee, marking a radical change in its administration and a name change to the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association (ABCRA).   

The Australian Bushmen's Campdraft & Rodeo Association Today

The ABCRA is the largest Rodeo and Campdraft organization in Australia, with over 4,000 members and many more ‘day competitors’. The Association has approximately 180 affiliated committees throughout the country and events attract many hundreds of thousands of spectators each year.

The ABCRA affiliates the sports of Campdrafting, roughriding (saddlebronc, bareback, bull and steer riding) and timed rodeo events (steer wrestling, rope & tie, barrel race (ladies), steer undecorating (ladies), team roping, breakaway roping (ladies) and junior barrel race.

The Association 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 testament to the quality of competition and events in Australia. 

Although the typical competition is likely to have a direct association with the land, the increasing profile of rodeo and Campdrafting, now sees competitors from all walks of life. What will never change is the family appeal; both in spectating and competing, the ABCRA actively encourages novice and junior competitors in both rodeos and campdrafts.   

The ABCRA conducts a point scoring system to determine National Champions, which does not discriminate against less financial committees and puts the emphasis on sportsmanship and consistent competition. Results from all affiliated committees are sent to Head Office where the points are recorded to five places for each member. From this recording system, the National High Point Standings are computed.   

If you would like to know more about the sports of Campdrafting & Rodeo, whether it be as a spectator, or as a competitor, you can contact us.