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 one another as entertainment in harsh Australian conditions. Stock camped for the night, and then drafted to demonstrate who was the superior horseman, and who had the best horses. From this simple beginning, the uniquely Australian sport of Campdrafting was born. 

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 1920s and 1930s, with circuit competitors and spectators alike, having a go in the ring. Bushmen’s Carnivals originated in Northern NSW in the 1920s and were well established by the 1930s. With the end of World War II, there was a revival of the carnivals, and the birth of the tradition of donating proceeds to local charities.

The Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft & Rodeo Association Today

On the 28th 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, with the affiliation of committees from Queensland, the name was changed again in 1960 to The Australian Bushmen’s Carnival Association. In 1985, on 17 July, 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).   

Today, more than 75 years since its conception in 1946, the ABCRA is Australia’s largest and most diverse equine peak body. 

Boasting a growing membership of more than 7,000, and 200 affiliated committees across Australia, the ABCRA is extremely proud of its affiliates who conduct in excess of 500 events annually across Australia, attracting thousands of competitors and fans alike.  

Our Association continues to evolve as we affiliate a wide range of equine sports and disciplines, including: 

  • Campdraft 
  • Rodeo
  • Challenge Sorting and Penning
  • Challenges 
  • Team Penning 
  • Clinics/Training Days 
  • Gymkhana/Sporting Events
  • Jackpot Times Events

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 Rodeo and Campdraft. 

The ABCRA conducts a point scoring system to determine National Champions, which does not discriminate against less financial committees, but rather 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.

As a spectator or competitor, if you would like to know more about the equine sports affiliated with the ABCRA, contact our friendly staff today.


Affiliate Your Event with the ABCRA!

Make your next event a success by affiliating with the nation’s largest non-profit equine sporting organisation. Gain access to a dedicated competitor base with over 7,000 members Australia-wide, as well as extensive resources and online event management systems.

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