Way back in 2001 when I started the photography thing, the SQCHA held shows at places like Boonah, Dayboro and Toogoolawah. Then a Non Pro by the name of Dave Tucker suggested I go to the Burrandowan Cutting. 

“It’s a bit out of the way but it’s a really good show, they have the picnic races there every year”. With a baby in tow at the time, it was another five years before I was able to venture to this place called Burrandowan. For all the history buffs out there, the word Burrandowan is an aboriginal word meaning “Many Waters”. The first settler to the area came from the Maryborough region in search of what was rumoured at that time by the local Aboriginals to be open grazing land. With the assistance of an aboriginal lad, they followed the Burnett River, then up through the Boyne and the Stewart Rivers to get to their destination. Burrandowan, “Many Waters”.

Burrandowan Cutting seems to be in the middle of nowhere but it actually is not.

In the modern era your first journey to Burrandowan can be a little daunting. When I first went there the instructions given to me by the then club secretary Megan Barbour was, “take a right at the Kingaroy golf club and follow the road to Burrandowan. Whatever you do don’t turn off that road”. Well it may have taken many waters to get there in the old days but as you drive to Burrandowan with the words “don’t turn off that road” running through your brain, you do tend to notice that there are now many roads for you to mistakenly detour on. Nevertheless you drive on starting with a bitumen road that then turns to gravel then bitumen again and then dirt. Well maintained mind you, but yes the Burrandowan racetrack is on a dirt road. When you think you’re lost you get to an intersection on a sharp turn and you see a sign made with a sheet of roof metal with the word “races” painted on it and an arrow. The relief to see that sign is just immediate and whoever placed that sign …. Well genius.

Phew made it.

So at the end of your 60k journey from the hubbub of Kingaroy you finally reach your destination the, Burrandowan racetrack. The first thing that strikes you is that Burrandowan isn’t a town, there’s no shops or servo’s or even a little row of houses on the side of the road, there’s just this well … racetrack. This place was established back in 1922 by a group of soldier settlers who wanted to put an event together that would bring the locals together for a bit of a catch up, so the annual picnic races evolved purely as a social event for the area. It’s probably true to say that this tradition carries through to the Burrandowan cutting. It is not just a cutting show, but also a social event, and even though there is a perception of being in the middle of nowhere, once you get there it doesn’t seem like that at all. This is a place where new friendships are forged and old ones strengthened.

It’s a well organised event.

Thanks to the efforts of Hugh Campbell of Iron Pot who organises the large numbers of cattle and the working bees, the Burrandowan locals have worked hard to keep this venue alive. Apart from the May picnic races they also host a Camp draft event and of course the annual Burrandown Cutting. It is this sense of community that makes the Burrandowan event so spectacular and a reminder of what grass roots cutting shows are all about. Thanks to the commitment of a handful of locals, plus a plentiful supply of quality weanlings and an abundance of river sand for the surface, the SQCHA made this their annual feature event on their show calendar many years ago.

The first feature show was under the guidance of then Club President Craig Jones and added money was doubled. Three years ago Jill Busfield introduced a Ladies Challenge event which proved to be very successful. And this year thanks to the efforts of Kingaroy locals Lloyd Neilsen and Jeff Eddie the inaugural Burrandowan Gelding Stakes show was born. An Open and a Non Pro event was added to the program with $1500 added money to each of these events. The total prize money payout for the whole show was just a tad under $20,000.

The winners are ….

As with tradition Friday was a cold start to the show thanks to, as the Show’s Judge Roger Elliott described, “a sneaky little wind”. Preworks, the $5,000 Novice and the Open Non Pro events were the order of the day with Heath Sinclair rewarding Cameron and Hayley Turner for their new acquisition from Al Hunter, winning this event with One Time Melody, the mare took home just under $1,000 for her new owners.

Lloyd Neilsen started what was to become an immensely successful weekend for both himself and wife Carlee by winning the Open Non Pro event. The threat of wet weather turned out to be a trickle and the sneaky little wind snuck away for the rest of the weekend.

After cold starts to both Saturday and Sunday, the weather was absolutely glorious for the rest of the weekend. There was some quality cutting with Saturdays feature event, the Non Pro Gelding Stakes completing a quality day. It was to be Lloyd Nielsen’s day again, riding the Peptos Stylish Oak gelding, Artistos they impressed the judges Roger Elliott and Ken Cullen with a 149 score. Todd Mulcahy made his trip from down Tamworth way pay off with a second placing and another Kingaroy local Craig Jones coming third. Arron Stevens- Jones riding The Little Red Indian, Steve Beale with One Stylish Turpentine and Gina Drew on RBH Justa Redpepto filled the other placings.

Great Food.

As I said the thing that makes Burrandowan so special is the efforts of the local community. The ladies, led by Roslyn Campbell, in the canteen worked tirelessly all weekend and presented everyone with some magnificent good ole wholesome homemade food. The steak sandwiches would make any aspiring celebrity chef weep with joy. They just simply melted in your mouth and would have attracted some TV superlatives like “wow” and “cooked to perfection” and “Yum”. (Incidentally if there are any TV show writers out there that have run out of superlatives to use in their next show I can email you a long list for a small fee). The Saturday nights meal was as usual “spectacular” and if the fact that the clubhouse ran out of rum that night is any indication, a good time was had by all.

Sundays winners.

Another chilly start to Sunday, but with the weather warming up by mid morning the temperature was unusually warm. The cutting extremely entertaining and capped off with the Open Gelding Stakes. Yet another Kingaroy local Mark Buttsworth made the event his by scoring 150 riding Almora Peps Double Rey. Casino trainer Dean Rogan took out second place on The Smartist Cat owned by Grafton local Leanne Rose. Another New South Welshman, Jim Vickery riding EBs Fescue and Queensland based trainer, Jackson Gray riding Jimmy Fescue took home the minor prize money. KC Saddlery kindly donated a leather bridle to each of the Gelding stakes winners.  KC Saddlery is a regular sponsor of the SQCHA cutting shows.

In the other events Face book bragging rights went to Erin Lyons winning the Beginner Horse on Klone Wars. Incidentally just over a week later this pairing took home the Darling Downs Non Pro Futurity. Emma Stockdale won the $15,000 Non Pro with Marilyn Monroc. Dean Rogan and The Smartist Cat, the $15,000 Novice, Brienna Simpson and EP Diamond Catt continue to impress and took home the Rookies prize. Sandi Rodd riding Dealta Shocking Hand won the Snaffle Bit and youth competitor Lara Brownhall riding Lets Twist Again won the Beginner Rider. Lloyd and Carlee Nielsen were both in the winner’s circle on Sunday with Lloyd winning the Novice Non Pro and Carlee the $7,500 Non Pro riding the ever consistent Artistos. Junior Youth, Dakota Wadsworth and Austin Powers and Senior Youth Amy Tessman riding Smart Little Attitude were victors. Desires Blue Trinity displayed again what a bargain purchase he was to his new owners Kempsey Quarter Horses by taking home yet another Open Cutting title with the ever reliable Heath Sinclair aboard.

Gelding Stakes will return.

According to all reports and feedback the inaugural Burrandowan Gelding Stakes show was an immense success. The SQCHA committee are now committed to hosting this event annually in the lead up to the Toowoomba Futurity. With strong numbers for both these feature events this new program can only grow from strength to strength. For those who frequent this show regularly, you can look forward to more of the same next year. Those who have never ventured to this place called Burrandowan, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Yep there is definitely something about Burrandowan.