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Hundreds ensure event's return

Wednesday, 7th April, 2010

* Tom Taylor competing in the bikekhana. * Tom Taylor competing in the bikekhana.

The first gymkhana in Packsaddle for a decade attracted 500 people, prompting organisers to promise a return of the event next Easter.

The Packsaddle Progress Association (PPA) organised the event, which saw about 90 people compete in horse and motorbike events, including 15 under the age of eight. PPA publicity officer Mia Degoumois said rising insurance premiums cancelled the event 10 years ago, but mutterings in the last couple of years got the idea going again.

"We sort of thought about it and talked about a return to the gymkhana and what a great time we had," Ms Degoumois said. "A few of us got together and decided to have a go at it." The committee is made up of roadhouse staff, local station owners and people from Broken Hill. "We've got a great group of people that kicked in and made it happen," Ms Degoumois said.

"The hardest part up here is that everyone is not so close, not like Broken Hill - people have to travel so far." Hundreds of people drove hundreds of kilometres to the tiny settlement of Packsaddle to take in the Easter atmosphere, including from Wilcannia, White Cliffs, Mildura, Tibooburra, Broken Hill, Queensland and South Australia and overseas tourists.

"We reckon over the two days we got nearly 500 through the gates," Ms Degoumois said. "We really have nothing to work off being so long since it was held but it was a good crowd." More than 45 horse competitors and 45 bike competitors took part in 20 horse events and 11 motorbike events including barrel races, bending, flags, relay races, keyhole, bang and go back, sprints and monos.

Broken Hill's Music Magic kept the crowds entertained on Saturday night with a big dance in the hall. Ms Degoumois said the event caused no trouble for police. "Oh there was absoloutely no trouble at all," she said."It was fantastic, there were no complaints." An egg hunt, Easter bonnet parade and fun events kept the kids entertained. Ms Degoumois said the event was so popular there was no choice but to stage it again next year.

"It was a great atmosphere and everyone really enjoyed themselves," she said. "It was a good crowd, especially for the first year. We coped really well with it and we got heaps of ideas for next year."

While organisers have not yet tallied the amount of money made, various charities will receive a portion of the profit, including more than $2,000 which was raised from an auction.

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