The cowboys wait in the dark under the stands.
The storm throws occasional flashes of white light in on them and follows through with a roll of heavy thunder.
In the doorway, one bronc rider is sitting in his saddle on the floor. He looks ahead, into the light from the arena spilling through the open door and rocks once back and forth.
But for the rain, and the announces heard through the arena calling another event, it is almost quiet.
The riders tell jokes, smoke and strap their arms and wrists in bandages.
Kerry Wellington - a five-time Australian saddle bronc champion from Moonbi - puts his boot into the end of his rope, pulls it tight and throws his arm back.
"They all have their rituals," the on-call paramedic says.
The stock is run into the chutes as the riders step up onto the platform, and veteran rodeo clown Big Al Wilson fills time with the crowd.
The power would go out twice during the ABCRA National Finals rodeo at Tamworth's AELEC arena on Friday night, grinding everything to a halt. Big Al had a lot of time to fill.
"It doesn't matter what you do as long as you do it," he says.
He keeps a rodeo barrel at the side of the arena, inside which is his hobby horse, lassoo, and ostrich - which, at one point, he rides through the ring to the tune of Rhinestone Cowboy.
At the chute gates, in the dark, the riders are getting restless. Their stock is ready - primed like a canon. They kick spurs into their boots, throw their arms as they slide into rodeo vests - going through the motions.
The lights come back on and the sense of routine picks up again like clockwork.
Saddles and straps are fitted. One rider uses a pocket knife to trim an overgrown mane away from his rope.
When another rider breaks from the chute gate, they're all leaning over the rails cheering him on - watching every move. Eight seconds stretches out into endless technique.
Wellington, 49, steps over the top rail and into the saddle. He leans back, nods his head, and the chute gate cracks.
As the horse, Carana Jan, leaps out of the gate, Wellington seamlessly lets go of the rail.
Judges score his ride 77 points in round one of the National Finals saddle bronc placing equal second with Brodie Pendagast, behind winner Carl Green on Friday night.
- Full results to come from round one of the ABCRA National Finals rodeo at Tamworth.