10 September, 2023
‘You are the movement’
STANDING up on stage alongside so many young women, Caitlin Murray didn’t know whether she was good enough to be crowned rodeo royalty.
Her heart pounded. The sounds of cheers and whistles started as she stood in silence with a smile.
Caitlin wasn’t like the other girls on that stage. She was in the middle of a considerable weight transformation and still discovering who she was.
She was adopted into a good family whom she loved more than anything, but her life had been a roller-coaster of emotions none of the other girls had experienced before.
That’s when it happened, the moment her name was called as the Mareeba Rodeo 2019 Miss Personality winner, kick-starting a career in showgirling that would inspire many.
Caitlin didn’t believe it. She was sure she wouldn’t be chosen and had only joined the local rodeo competition to see what it was like.
After being crowned, she was introduced to the world of “showbiz” at the Cairns Show and knew that being an ambassador for the agricultural community was what she truly wanted to do.
“I realised I wanted to enter the Showgirl competition after winning the 2019 Mareeba Rodeo Miss Popularity Princess Title, where I was invited to the Cairns Show to represent Mareeba and the Queen and Princess,” she said.
“It was there I met showgirls from all across the region and state and where they explained the program and what it entails.
“That’s when I knew I had to be a part of the showgirl movement.”
During Covid, the opportunity to go out to shows and participate in the showgirling scene was scarce, so she worked on herself in preparation for the 2021 Atherton Show.
When the show came around, Caitlin was ready to showcase her charisma, knowledge, outgoingness, and willingness to represent the region.
Her efforts were quickly recognised, and Miss Personality became the Atherton Showgirl, automatically making her a candidate for the 2022 North Queensland Sub-Chamber Showgirl Title.
“In the early part of my Showgirl career, some highlights would definitely be winning the 2022 North Queensland Sub-Chamber Showgirl Title, where I represent 14 show societies from Charters Towers up to Mossman and inland as far as Giru,” she said.
“I was sashed a state finalist by Governor Jeanette Young. I attended a fair number of luncheons and high-importance social events where I got a shout-out from politician Deb Frecklington.
“I also was invited to parliament in Canberra by Senator Susan McDonald, but most of all, I represented myself and the small town of Atherton and Mareeba at the EKKA.”
Caitlin’s name became well-known across the Queensland agricultural scene, as the Mareeba girl proudly represented her community and region.
Her time at the EKKA really stapled the fact that showgirling was her true passion, despite all the challenges it came with.
“One of the biggest challenges to face were the lack of knowledge that society knew about this incredible leadership program,” she said.
“Most people saw the title ‘showgirl’ and assumed a stripper or some dancer.
“I overcame this obstacle by educating people from all walks of life about the Queensland Country Life Showgirl Competition and our motto: to recognise, develop and celebrate young women in communities.
“The main obstacle I still face, and I know other entrants, is overcoming the challenge that this isn’t a beauty competition, or a match based on body image and looks like Miss Universe.
“This is a leadership program. We are the young women representing the agriculture movement and Show Society movement, teaching society the importance of shows and what they represent.
“We are more than a blue sash and a title. We are a legacy, the new age of voices, the next generation leading the charge and keeping this vital industry alive.
“Just like any competition, there is a downside and negativity comments on social media or from people, but the best thing is to continue to be yourself, represent yourself with pride and continue to grow.”
Determined to help bring other young women like her into the industry, Caitlin now mentors people like her joining the agriculture ambassador scene.
Becoming a role model for the Mareeba Rodeo 2023 queen entrant and taking on the coordinator role for the Atherton Showgirls, Caitlin aspires to help raise the next generation of ambassadors.
“I am a mentor, guide and friend, and being in the same position and knowing the mental, emotional and physical effects these comps can have,” she said.
“I was glad to be at these events to help these ladies and give them guidance and advice when needed.
“It's not till you enter and partake in these programs that you realise how outside your comfort zone you are, and what they are all about.
“You must remind them whether they win or lose; they are the movement, and don’t let the sash define who you are.”
Today, Caitlin is also pursuing her passion as a ring announcer, taking on the role of ring announcer and producer at the Royal Canberra Show this year, assistant producer at the Grand National Equestrian Event in Sydney, producer and announcer of the broadcast box at The Sydney Royal Easter Show, as well as invited special guest to co-host live Radio and interviews at various stations in Sydney.
She urges anyone curious about the journey showgirling can take them on to reach out and try it.
“Enjoy each moment capture your journey, and never forget your true self,” she said.
“Whether you win or lose a competition you are a part of history with everyone else before you; you took the step to get outside your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. I am proof of what a simple ‘let's have a go’ will get you.”