At the age of 42, buck-jumping champion Harry Combo from Dingo Creek, was considered the “old man” as he took centre stage at the 1920 Wingham Show. With the grandstand full to overflowing and the main event of the day about to start, people pressed against the rails to grab their place for the show. After banter with the commentator, Combo entered the ring. A wild ride proceeded with the horse performing a “maze of cunning wheels, bucks and pigroots, so quick that the eye could hardly follow.” Combo survived “the biggest tussle ever seen in northern NSW” and finished by riding the well-behaved horse around the ring to rousing cheers. He won the contest and beamed with pride as the blue ribbon was pinned to his coat.1
Combo’s ability to break in horses and his buck-jumping prowess were legendary throughout NSW. For over 25 years he dominated buck-jumping show competitions.2
In 1902 an unfortunate incident marred Combo’s career. He won the Wingham Show’s buck-jumping competition and the prize was a cask of wine. That night while drunk he violently assaulted his girlfriend Annie Russell.3 His subsequent arrest sparked an ongoing local debate about the suitability of wine being given as the prize, especially because it broke the law of supplying alcohol to Aboriginal people.4 Combo was imprisoned for two months but in 1905 he married Annie Russell.5
In 1926 while visiting Sydney, Combo died from heart failure.6 He was buried in common ground in the Anglican section of Rookwood Cemetery.7 His presence at the following Wingham Show was keenly missed. He was remembered as one of the finest horsemen that ever jumped into the saddle.8
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Sydney Mail, 5 May 1920, 8.
2 Various newspaper articles starting from 1890s.
3 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 31 May 1902, 4.
4 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 7 June 1902, 6.
5 NSW BDM, Marriage Index No. 5343/1905.
6 Manning River Times, 20 June 1926, 2.
7 NSW BDM, Death Index No. 85/1926; Rookwood Cemetery search, https://www.rookwoodcemetery.com.au/deceased-search-engine
8 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 23 April 1926, 4.