Warwick ahead of the game in fastest-growing Aussie sport
TOWERING gooseneck trailers, expensive Akubras and mountains of high-quality leather are all part and parcel of what is now the fastest growing Australian-invented sport, but competitors say it's not about the money and fancy tack.
Millions of dollars are poured into the campdrafting industry according to research conducted by the National Campdraft Council of Australia, with competitors spending $18, 545 on average each year.
Trumpeting the economic benefits to small towns and businesses, the research points to an "endless” number of industries that contribute to campdrafting.
"You've got caravans and buckles and clothing and feed, it just keeps going on,” NCCA vice-president Ron Berkley said.
"There could be at least 50-80 industries that feed off this activity.”
With Warwick renowned as the campdraft capital of Australia, Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the booming sport was an important part of the regional economy.
But Warwick campdrafter Terry Dwan said it wasn't about the bells and whistles.
"It's a great country sport that families love to do,” he said.
Mr Dwan custom builds gooseneck trailers and caravans used to transport horses to events and reports the appliances are in high demand.
While a long customer waiting list is tell-tale a sign of demand, Mr Dwan said campdrafting's success came down to its non-elitist culture and all-inclusive values.
"We're not all rich people going around in our fancy floats. If you turn it into an industry, you'll kill the sport,” he said.
"It's a laidback peaceful weekend, you ride your horses and compete but you also like to be fairly social and have a few drinks with friends. Anyone can do it.”
It's one of the reasons campdrafting is one of the country's fastest-growing activities.
"It would have to be one of the only sports where boards are trying to work out how to accommodate all the new competitors rather than working out how to attract more people to events,” Mr Berkley said.
Rising nominations saw campdrafting's most prestigious event reach capacity for the first time last year.
Known as the "Melbourn Cup of campdrafting,” the Warwick Gold Cup is renowned for being the biggest and best event on the campdraft calendar.
Campdraft chairman Geoff Grant said the Warwick Show and Rodeo Society had to look at ways to accommodate more competitors as the event grows in popularity.
"It keeps getting bigger every year,” he said.
One of those competitors is Mr Dwan's son David, who last year took out the title Australian Campdraft Association maiden rider.
David said he was looking forward to competing in the Warwick Cup in October.
"You spend the season working your way up to Warwick,” David said.
"The town is known in the campdrafting world, everyone talks about Warwick,” he said.
Along with the annual Warwick Rodeo, The event expects to attract thousands of spectators to the Warwick Showgrounds from 22 to 28 October.