Mount Isa – Michmutters

Cowboy takes home a bride and a buckle after double win at Mount Isa rodeo

When Canadian woman Kyla Dolen first met cowboy Fred Osman she admits she was instantly infatuated.

“I had moved out on a backpacking visa and had got a job helping out at his dad’s station,” she said.

“After working with him I was very twitterpated and in love with him.”

That was 12 years ago.

Now, she’s married her dream man.

A bride in a white dress with long brown hair walks alongside her groom wearing a blue shirt and cream vest holding a cowboy hat
Thousands were in attendance on the final day of the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere.(ABC North West Queensland: Larissa Waterson)

The couple tied the knot on Sunday, paying homage to Fred’s stockman roots as they said “I do” in front of a crowd on the red-dirt arena of the Mount Isa Rodeo — the biggest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

In true cowboy fashion, just an hour after his vows, Mr Osman, 36, went on to win the bareback ride, defending his 2021 champion title.

“I don’t know what I was more nervous about, getting married or winning my fourth buckle here,” he said.

A bride and groom stand at a triangle timber alter on red dirt ground with a colorfully dressed celebrant holding a microphone.
The two said their vows on the arena just before Fred won the bareback competition.(Supplied: Mount Isa Rodeo)

A long road to rodeo romance

A year ago, Mr Osman popped the question to Ms Dolen while on a hike in Canada, right before he flew back to Australia.

“It was dodgy as. I didn’t have a ring or anything at the time so I just nicked one of her other little rings and did it with that,” he said.

“But I just wanted to make sure, because we were doing a lot of flying between countries, that she knew what my intentions were.”

A bride in a white dress with long brown hair holds her grooms hand in an outback landscape.  He wears blue shirt and cream vest
The couple met 12 years ago and have been together for the past three years.(Supplied: Mount Isa Rodeo)

After COVID-19 lockdowns forced the couple into a 10-month long-distance engagement, Ms Dolen had had enough.

“My dream wedding was always to get married in Canada in the mountains,” she said.

“But after COVID and everything, I didn’t know when we were going to get back to Canada. And I’m lazy and I don’t like planning things. And I didn’t want to plan a wedding. So I was like, why don’t we just get married at Mount Isa?

“He was already going to be here riding in the rodeo and his family was coming to watch him ride so it was just so easy.

“And I wanted him to be excited about it as well and have a venue that he was excited about.”

A shot of the bouquet toss taken from the crowd.
Kyla tossed her bouquet into the crowd where one lucky single girl caught it.(ABC North West Qld: Larissa Waterson)

At the noon lunch break on Sunday, Ms Dolen walked onto the Mount Isa Rodeo arena in a sparkling white two-piece gown and cowgirl boots, her family watching via live stream from Canada.

A bride holds a bouquet and walks through metal gates onto red dirt.  She's accompanied by a man in a suit and cowboy hat.
Kyla enters the Mount Isa Rodeo arena from the chutes in true cowgirl fashion.(ABC North West Qld: Larissa Waterson)

“It’s been awesome. When you really love someone, it’s really hard to just pick the small things you love about them — it’s just the whole entity of that person that you’re drawn to,” she said.

“He’s my best friend and I just can’t imagine doing life without him anymore.”

Three riders on horses in desert setting
Kyla and Fred (center and left) first met on his family’s station.(Supplied: Kyla Dolen)



Mount Isa man in custody over alleged murder of 13yo girl

Mount Isa man Trevor Caulton has been arrested and charged with murder after he allegedly drove a vehicle into a crowd of people, hitting and killing a 13-year-old girl.

Emergency services were called to the corner of Delacour Drive and Dent Street in the Mount Isa suburb of Pioneer after midnight on August 6 and treated the girl for critical head injuries.

Police confirmed she succumbed to her injuries and died at the scene.

Mr Caulton’s lawyer appeared on his behalf via phone at the Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

A full brief of evidence was being prepared and the case would appear for mention at Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court on September 26.

The victim was identified and her family had been contacted, police said.

Dent and Trainor
Paramedics treated the victims at the site of the incident near Dent Street in Pioneer.(ABC North West Queensland: Emily Dobson)

Fears of retribution prompt police warning

Police have called for calm in the community after the tragedy.

Police man talking in front of microphones at press conference.
Mount Isa Police Acting Superintendent Smith asked the community to assist investigators.(ABC Far North: Brendan Mounter)

“I do have concerns about unrest in the community — this is a distressing case and this poor girl’s life has been taken,” said Mount Isa Police Acting Superintendent Jason Smith.

“We acknowledge the grief in the community and we implore everyone to remain calm around this incident and to assist police with the investigation.

“Sometimes in our community there can be an urge from some to seek retribution. Please know the law has been executed, the alleged offender is in jail and police have done as much as they can.”



Brisbane Fashion Week’s king of hair Ben Wright reflects on his humble roots

Backstage among the glitz and glamor of Brisbane Fashion Week 2022 (BFW22), Ben Wright will be a long way from the dusty, red streets of his rural Queensland hometown.

It was there, in the corner of a quaint, little Mount Isa news agency he first pried open the pages of a Vogue magazine and instantly fell in love.

“I think I was the only 14-year-old boy in Mount Isa buying Vogue,” he laughed.

A black and white photo of a young man wearing all-black smiling at the camera, arms-crossed
Ben Wright always wanted to be a hairdresser. Now he’s the director of hair for Brisbane Fashion Week 2022.(Supplied: @benwright_rixonhair)

“I loved looking at the amazing hairstyles in those pages and dreamt of one day creating looks like that and being a part of that industry.”

Since then, the 24-year-old has shot to success, working at an award-winning salon in Brisbane and behind the scenes at fashion shows and shoots across the country – including Melbourne Fashion Week and Australian Fashion Week.

As he readies himself for his new role as hair director for BFW22, Mr Wright remembers the moment he realized this was the world for him.

“It was my Nan that got me into hairdressing,” he said.

“I was always with her on school holidays and she was always one of those nannas dressed to the nines. I would go with her when she was in the salon getting a perm, a cut, a color or even just a blow-dry.

“I could never take my eyes off what the hairdresser was doing – I was enthralled.”

‘Passion was contagious’

From an early age, he cheekily started schooling his mum about the clothes she bought him.

“As a kid I always loved fashion and I always cared about what I was wearing and all of that.

“I’m pretty sure Mum stopped buying me clothes for Christmas when I was like nine or 10 because I just would refuse to wear whatever she bought me.”

As soon as he could, Mr Wright walked into his favorite salon – the Capricorn Hair Studio in Mount Isa – and demanded a job.

A black and white photo of a hairdresser attending a client
At age 14, Mr Wright started working at a local salon.(Supplied: @benwright_rixonhair)

Owner Michelle Donald still remembers that day.

“He said, ‘I want to be a hairdresser, that’s all I want to be and this is where I want to work, I’m happy to work for free if you’ll take me on’,” she said.

“I said, ‘You don’t have to work for free’ and that was it.

“He started work that Saturday. He was perfect and we bonded immediately. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious.”

From salon to behind-the-scenes

Whether he’s on set or in the shop, Mr Wright’s greatest motivation comes from the people he gets to work with.

A collection of headshots showing colorful and quirky hairstyles on different models
Some of Mr Wright’s work. (Supplied: @benwright_rixonhair)

“When you’re in the salon, you get that sense of gratification from the small act of making someone feel and look beautiful, changing how people feel about themselves,” he said.

“Seeing people so happy when they leave the salon that feeling stays with you.

“Backstage and on set, you get that sense of adrenaline and excitement. It’s fast-paced, you’re working with so many different creatives in such a pumped-up atmosphere.

“That’s a feeling that I’ve loved since I started dancing competitively in Mount Isa and that’s stayed with me to this day and a big part of why I love what I do.”

As his career skyrockets into its next phase, the 24-year-olds encouraged others to join the industry.

A group photo inside a lobby area
Mr Wright says he was “enthralled” as a child watching the hairdresser do his grandmother’s hair.(Supplied: @benwright_rixonhair)

“If you’re feeling a little lost or intrigued about what the industry might be like, if you’ve got a passion for hair, you’ve got a natural creative flair, if you love people and high-energy environments, and what’s happening in the world right now, this is an industry for you,” he said.

“Walk into a local salon and ask questions, get your hands dirty, even if you just do a day of work experience — try it out. Not only is it the best job, it’s the best world to be a part of.”

Woman stands next to a young woman who is holding a certificate III.
Michelle Donald (left), owner of Capricorn Hair Studio.(Supplied: Capricorn Hair Studio)

For his first-ever employer, his achievements come as no shock.

“Reading and hearing about Ben’s success never surprises me,” Ms Donald said.

“He was destined for greatness and it makes me super proud to know that, as a boy from the bush with a big dream, he let nothing hold him back.”

Mr Wright’s hair creations will feature on the runway at the BFW22 from August 22-26.