Wild Australia show entertains crowds at Balls Paddock, Woonona

Wild Australia Poster

Thorpe McConville

Thorpe McConville

Thorpe McConville brought his “Wild Australia” rodeo-circus to Ball’s Paddock, Woonona at least three times during the 1930s.

The show would have attracted many locals who fancied themselves as horsemen, and who were given an opportunity to win £10 to stay in the saddle of McConville’s bucking horses and bullocks for at least 30 seconds.

McConville first came into prominence in 1911 when he gave a command performance for King George V at the Crystal Palace grounds, London, shortly after the coronation ceremony.

From London he went to America and joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show. After a tour of the United States, McConville returned to Australia, and went into business under the name of “Wild Australia.”

Born in Yass, he resided in Narrandera for many years, and as the proprietor of Wild Australia was known throughout the Commonwealth. He died in 1953 at the age of 62 years.

The Illawarra Mercury reported on Friday 11 January 1935:


Mr. Thorpe McConville’s famous ‘Wild Australia’ combination of rodeo and circus, is to visit Bulli next Monday night, the 14th instant, for one night’s thrilling performance, in Ball’s Paddock, Woonona. Mr. McConville secured the pick of 300 outlaws from the Northern Territory and Queensland, used at the Melbourne Centenary Stampede, and also the best of Tom Handley’s well known team, including the famous ‘Rocky Ned.” £10 will be offered any rider who can sit either of the champion ‘Rocky Ned” or “Swannee,” for 30 seconds in a hunting saddle. Other prizes will be offered, for the best riders of buckjumpers, bucking bullocks, donkeys, mules and ponies. Australia’s leading rough riders are to appeal in thrilling exhibitions of expert horsemanship, and £5 will be forfeited should any local horse be brought in that can throw any of “Wild Australia” riders. An additional attraction will be a number of good circus acts, including The Fredo Troupe of Athletes, wire walkers arid trapeze artists; Tex Bailfiy’s posing animals; high jumping and diving dogs, ropers, dummies and clowns. Mr. Thorpe McConville, the proprietor and ring master, has had much experience in this class of entertainment. In 1911 he was the youngest of a troupe of rough riders selected to represent Australia at the Festival of Empire Exhibition, London, where during a 6 months season, at the Crystal Palace he had the honour of appearing before the present King, at a command, performance. He afterwards toured Canada, and the States with the biggest American ‘Wild West’ shows, which included Tob Mix, Hoot Gibson and other picture celebrities. Returning to Australia, Mr. McConville organised his ‘Wild Australia’ entertainment, which at once became and remained, the leading show of its kind in Australia. Almost every Australian rider of note has at one time or other, served under his banner. Popular prices of admission will be within the means of all.

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