Geebung polo hits 30

Geebung polo hits 30

The thunder of hooves will ring across the High Country on Easter Sunday as eight polo players battle out the longest serving polo competition in Australia.

The 30th annual Geebung polo match will again see the local Geebung team take on the Cuff and Collar team and much pride is at stake as the Cuff and Collar team has won for the past couple of years.

Cobungra Station, known as Victoria’s largest cattle station, is a fitting and scenic venue and this year the land of rock and scrub as mentioned in A.B. “Banjo” Patterson’s famous poem, the Geebung Polo Club will see mountain locals, captain Ken Connley, Joe Connley, Dave Olsson and Craig Orchard take on the Cuff and Collar team.

“It’s a great event for the whole region,” Ken Connley said. “You couldn”t get a better setting, it’s such a good family day.”

The Cuff and Collar team has been captained for the past 15 years by Craig “Pretty Boy” Taylor who says his team has had a few changes.

“I need to select my team very carefully, Mr Taylor said.

“We get given our horses by the Geebung blokes an hour before the game, we have to get on and wave a polo stick around and get on the field so they need to be able to ride.”

Mr Taylor will be joined by ex-Gippsland local, Aaron Mawhinney, Lord Luke Shellbourne, who is flying in from England for the occasion, and his wife, Miechelle (correct) Taylor, who was awarded “most determined” after last year’s match.

The locals have taken on the organisation of the event this year, namely the Alps Links Regional Communities Development Association, a mouthful of a title but the group is happy to be known as Alpine Links.

According to co-chair, Damian Pendergast, the aim of the committee is to involve communities in activities that bring a sense of goodwill and engagement.

The man who started off the competition in 1989, John Castran, said the match was originally held on Horse Hair Plain where Mt Hotham airport now stands, with snow gums for goals, toilets that were holes dug with a backhoe, two-up schools and Ben Buckley doing joy flights between chukkas.

“It was a rough-and-ready show, homegrown not glitzy, and it’s grown into something that has quite a cult following,” Mr Castran said.

“The local cattlemen had never played it, a few had played polocrosse.

“They went out and caught brumbies, broke them in and then drew straws on the day and picked a pony.

“The polo players had the game skills but the locals were outstanding horsemen and they all rode incredibly smart horses. It worked an absolute treat.

“In the poem they fought to the death, thank God we had neither of those, a fight or a death.”

PICTURED: Geebung polo team captain, Ken Connley, of Hinnomunjie, with East Gippsland Shire Mayor, Natalie O’Connell, of Omeo, look forward to the Geebung team coming out winners at the 30th annual Geebung polo match on Easter Sunday at Cobungra Station.