Bronco branding is a family affair for the Bryants

Bronco branding is a family affair for the Bryants


FAMILY FUN: Lil Bryant with her father John and partner Glenn Whickham at the Alice Springs bronco branding national championships this month. Picture: supplied.

FAMILY FUN: Lil Bryant with her father John and partner Glenn Whickham at the Alice Springs bronco branding national championships this month. Picture: supplied.

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Family bonding comes in the form of bronco branding for the Bryants

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When she is not tending to patients at Mount Isa Hospital, Lil Bryant is out branding calves. 

The 23-year-old occupational therapist grew up on Roxborough Downs Station near Boulia and has been competing in bronco branding with her father John since she was 10-years-old. 

Derived from the traditional way cattle were branded, the sport involves a catcher roping a calf out of a mob of cattle and a team crew secure and mark the calf.

These days the event involves painting calves to 'brand' them, instead of the actual thing.

In singles the team needs to rope three calves in six minutes with the first one done by two and a half minutes. In doubles they need to rope five calves.

Earlier this month the Bryant father-daughter duo set their sights on the National Bronco Branding Championships in Alice Springs. 

GET 'EM GIRL: Occupational therapist Lil Bryant grew up on Roxborough Downs Station near Boulia and has been competing in bronco branding with her father John since she was 10-years-old.

GET 'EM GIRL: Occupational therapist Lil Bryant grew up on Roxborough Downs Station near Boulia and has been competing in bronco branding with her father John since she was 10-years-old.

While Lil was not able to walk away with a ribbon, her father John and his mate Peter Kleinschmidt scored the third place in the doubles.

“When my dad catches in the opens I am always on his ground crew and I was on his ground crew for his doubles as well,” Lil said. 

“It is pretty special to be able to compete together. I get a lot of enjoyment out of competing with all of the fellas we do it with.”

This year’s championships held special meaning for the Bryant family.

“My godfather and one of my dad’s best mates Mal Debney passed away a couple of months ago and we used to do bronco branding with him a lot,” Lil said. 

“It was really special because his wife Liz came to Alice Springs with us, and a lot of the fellas who were competing used Mal’s gear and his horses.

“It was nice to be able to honour him in a way, we are all like family,” she said. 

The western Queensland crew are well regarded in Australia’s bronco branding circuit.

Lil and her father made up part the five-person team who hold the national record in bronco branding.

John Bryant and Peter Kleinschmidt led the team in a doubles bronco branding at Camooweal in 2010. 

The ground crew get to work in Alice Springs. Picture: supplied.

The ground crew get to work in Alice Springs. Picture: supplied.

They managed to catch, brand and release five calves in 2 minutes and 51 seconds.

They were helped on the ground by Mick and Trish Bischel as well as Lil.

The unique method of branding cattle is still used on large remote cattle stations today, but holding yards have been built to confine cattle. 

The dying practice was brought back to life in the 1980s when it became a sport and was backed by RM Williams.

It’s all about keeping traditional stockman skills alive and is one of three unique Australian sports along with campdrafting and polocrosse.

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