We were warned: don’t expect much from the Moree show. True, it’s no Sydney Royal Easter Show, but it wasn’t packed with thousands of people either. Food prices weren’t inflated and the entry fee was only $5 while parking was free and close to the main gate. Unlike Sydney, the scene wasn’t staged. Here the flies were real. The dust, cattle dogs and smell of horse poo was normal. The stock pens weren’t phony rustic, they truly are neglected and falling down.
However, what it lacks in size and polish it makes up for by getting you closer to the action. I’ve never watched show jumping before. I imagined it was as exciting as watching paint dry. But, standing at the rail with the horses going by within arms length, close enough to feel the ground shake as they landed each jump, hear them breathing and smell the leather and whatever else horsy people smell of, an hour went by in a blink. (The fact the girls were athletic and wearing skin tight breeches also helped). There was more show to explore, yet I was torn between seeing how the piebald went or, over the road, watching Buster the Kelpi clean up in the sheep dog trial.
Don’t expect too much? We’d barely arrived and it was clear we hadn’t allowed enough time; because then I found the wood chop.
I don’t know whether it’s an appreciation for the combination of skill, technique and strength required to be a good axe man, the pleasure of watching someone else working really hard, or the singlet with white cricket pants uniform, but I love a good wood chopping competition. At these smaller events the spectators can get so close they’re hit by wood chips as they fly off the log. From Jack who was fourteen to Reg who was eighty it was a mixed bunch of competitors. Reg could still hold his own against the youngsters in the underhand event which just proves there’s more skill than brawn involved. I even heard some friendly heckling directed at one of the state representatives, although why you would risk telling a bloke armed with a razor sharp axe to ‘have a go’ I don’t know.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better, and that was after having wood fired pizza for lunch, they brought out Frankenstein’s monster of chainsaws. Called a hot saw, it’s a customised saw made specifically for competition from what looked like dirt bike parts. Ridiculously loud it made short work of cutting three biscuits. A health and safety nightmare it was a winner with crowd and judges alike.
Another winner was Renee’s cross stitch of our old balloon flying in Tarago. Gretta had entered it into the needle work competition and it won first place. Overcome with emotion we blew all $4 of the prize money on a coffee to celebrate.
It was good coffee too. Maybe the key to survival out here is if you don’t expect too much… you may be pleasantly surprised.