A visit to some Aussie stations

Host: Lisa Wood/ AGP Indonesia
Written by Lisa Wood – Traceability Officer, AGP.

Last New Year’s, in between visiting my family for Christmas and needing to be in Brisbane for business meetings at the beginning of January, I was able to do a flying visit to a couple of cattle stations in the NT.

I have been to a station once before. It was about 20 years ago when my mother was working as a Governess at Moolooloo. It was such a long time ago and my focus was very different then, I wanted an update and to see with my now eyes.

The original plan was that Jay of Mathison Station would pick me up at the airport. I would stay there for a couple of nights then head over to Jo Bloomfield at Hodgson River Station. Nice in theory, the reality was different and more than I could have hoped for.

It turned out Jay wasn’t able to pick me up, not a worry; he had a friend who didn’t mind picking me up at 5:00am. Bless Robyn’s cotton socks, not only did she pick me up, she opened her home to me and I was able to enjoy the best ham sandwich I’ve had in a long time.

After a long day we finally arrived at Jay’s property, not too far away from Katherine. OK, 100 odd kms, yet in the NT this is not really far. Jay currently runs about 3,000 head. He is still developing his place and has room to grow. His cattle are free range with rotational grazing. His biggest bonus is possibly that he has all weather access to his property, so can sell all year round. He also does the majority of everything on this place himself.

During my all too brief stay with Jay, I got a great reminder of how strong our Australian sun is. Oops.

3.1 Whipper snipperingThe most unglamorous photo in the world.

I didn’t get the sunburn whipper snippering, yet it shows my delightful lily whites, later this same afternoon they were lobster legs. And, a girls got to pay her way somehow.

Jay, works with his local NT DPI in regards to plant and weed knowledge and weed eradication. This communication, along with the activities of the Territory Natural Resource Management, does not seem to happen down south to the same extent. That is simply my perception and I would love it if anybody is able to correct me. I would love Victoria to be as Landcare focused as NT is.

I got a real buzz learning that NT has a plant called ‘Sensitive Plant’. This plant is very similar to Indonesia’s ‘Putri Malu’. It’s a plant that curls up its leaves when touched. Sensitive plant you have to tickle a bit to get it to close, Putri Malu curls its leaves instantly upon being touched.

3.2 Putri MaluPutri Malu.

I really like the name ‘Putri Malu’, it translates to ‘Shy Princess’. The plant isn’t used for anything; I just think it’s a cool name for a plant.

I was so amped at the thought of meeting Jo and discussing abattoirs, both in Indonesia and Australia, and the ways they have improved and changed over time. Unfortunately for me, this was not possible. Fortunately for Jo, she had got record rainfalls. Which also meant the road was closed.

Happily for me, the opportunity to visit Dry River Station, and spend a night with Hamish and Anne Marie, did arise.

Mathison and Dry River Stations are not too far away from each other, yet do have their differences. The main one would have to be the weather access. When it rains big for Dry River, there is no getting cattle out until it’s dry again. Quite often, the humans cannot get out either.

Hamish explained to me his process for ‘tailing weaners’. It’s a bit of education he gives to the kids when they come off mum. I was amazed at the difference in behaviour of the cattle as we drove around the paddocks. They just stand there and look at you. They are really incredibly calm cattle.

3.3 Bull

3.4 Cows & calves

The bonus bit of this visit was that Hamish and Anne Marie had to go to Brisbane, so I was able to hitch a ride with them back to Darwin and didn’t put anybody out.

Everybody I met here has such a huge heart. It was a wonderful, albeit very brief, experience.