The barn doors swing open to the public at 6pm. A thousand guests run the gauntlet of the merchandise shop and make for the enormous themed bar-cum-gallery. They shake paws with a few tongue-lolling cattle dogs strategically placed on barrels, have their pictures taken and meet the equine stars fenced off along one wall. Small sticky-fingered kids pet the horses as Brad strums bootscootin’ toons from atop a wagon. Some of the more energetic punters join in.
“Now youse lot,” bellows “Bluey” the warmer-upper, from somewhere under a comically large bush hat. “I want no bloody videos or flashguns. And turn ya bloody mobile phones off or I’ll be up youse like a ferret up a drover’s trouser leg!”
Once refreshed by adult cordials, the guests are gently herded, practising their “coooeees”, to their stalls.
“The boys from the Bush are back in town…” come the vocals of country-music doyen Lee Kernigan from up in the roof. Kernigan co-wrote the musical score for the show.
A lone rider streaks out of the mist, slashing and cracking his whip, and rears his fabulous black stallion in triumphal salutation. From then on, the production rarely stops for a breather.
Meanwhile, out in the arena, the audience is fed and watered in the seven-and-a-half minutes it takes for bush bard Glenn “Bluey” Jones, the camp cook, to recite a stirring rendition of “The Man from Snowy River”. One thousand plates of steak, mashed spuds, pumpkin and carrots are served by 120 attractive cowgirls wearing standard outback garb – tight jeans, a button-down shirt, slightly scuffed riding boots and a wide-brimmed hat. There’s pavlova to follow.
The crowd makes more noise than a tree full of hungry galahs as we munch, cheer, drink and stamp (the preferred form of outback clapping) our way through a series of exuberant living-history cameos depicting scenes from pioneering hard yards right through to the present day. Cue lots of mustering, formation riding, camp draft, barrel racing, exploding barbecues, the inevitable campfire scene and, for the finale, the spectacular entrance of a heli-musterer.
The centrepiece, “The Heroes of the Light Horse”, is a recent addition to the programme. Its superb sound and light extravaganza stirs a thousand emotions. The 40-minute re‑creation of the legendary charge is a noisy, patriotic and eye-moistening experience – sentimentality laid on with a trowel. By the end, large blokes are snuffling self consciously into their shirt sleeves (“Just a bit of a cold, darl”).Contact Details
RM Williams Outback Spectacular
Pacific Motorway, Oxenford
Administration Ph: +61 7 5573 3999
Fax No: +61 7 5573 3666NUMBERS……….
The Australian Outback Spectacular is a high-value production. It costs over $250,000 annually just to feed and pamper the horses, let alone their riders. Sixty eight cosseted hayburners rotate through the year and receive three months’ annual R&R. Their co-stars, a couple of mobs of cattle, a flock of merinos, several dogs, two camels and a ration of pigs – all live in outlying fields and spacious stables.