IT WAS a flattened muddy mess that resembled more of a swamp than a showground just eight months ago but the Kilkivan Showgrounds are now in better shape than ever.
The sun shone upon the once flooded but now benchmark grounds yesterday as they hosted hundreds of competitors for the Australian Campdraft Association National Finals, and ACA secretary Dianne Winters said they were more than living up to expectations.
"It's great," Ms Winters said as she watched on while female draft competitors became among the first riders to have a run on the arena grounds since Kilkivan was flooded in January.
The grounds were washed away in the floodwater and it took months for the Gympie Regional Council, Kilkivan Show and Campdraft Association and others to re-build the grounds in time for the event.
"They've done a brilliant job in the short time they've had to do it," Ms Winters said.
The flood-stricken association was "determined" to host the event, she said.
"All the people I've spoken to say the grounds are really great."
Kilkivan was abuzz yesterday as competitors saddled up, rode hard and laughed hard at the national event, which many say is just as important competitively as it is socially.
Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley welcomed competitors to a "very special" opening, highlighting the event as a testament to the horse-riding "hotspot" Kilkivan is becoming.
Paying tribute to the locals who brought the showgrounds back from their flattened state, Governor Wensley said the event's go-ahead was "a great accomplishment for all involved".
The venue will be alive with campdrafting action of the national finals until Saturday afternoon, when the ACA's Top 30 will compete in a show-stopping shootout before a final presentation is held at the Kilkivan Town Hall.