Host: Lochon Contracting
Written by Tini O’Loughlin – Owner, Lochon Contracting.
When last year’s cattle season came to an end in the Kimberley, we had finished contract mustering and Locky and I were delighted to spend some quality time with our new baby girl. I had been in town since the arrival of our daughter on the August rodeo weekend in Derby, while Locky was out bull catching on a very remote station in the desert near the Tanami Road, which is a rough four wheel drive track through the guts of the Northern Territory to Alice Springs. Although I had wanted to be there and see this remote part of the country with its very own charm, town (Derby, at the onset of the Gibb River Road, is where we are based at) was a much better place for me and the little munchkin.
When Locky came back from the desert (with a beard that you can only get away with out there, and with hair that hadn’t seen scissors in a long time), there was still a few months left in the year. We were preparing ourselves to go on our annual wet season trip to Germany to see my family and introduce the new family member. Just as we were getting used to the idea of spending a good while together in Derby before going on our big holiday, Locky received a phone call. His presence was needed, urgently. He was asked by a friend of ours, who runs a big contract mustering business in the N.T., to run one of his camps for him.
“For how long?”,
“However long you can give me.”
“What do I need to bring.”
Well, although we weren’t desperate for money, a bit more work at the end of the year (four weeks we could give him) and a few more dollars in the bank account can’t hurt when you have a new baby and you are planning to travel overseas for three months.
So, Locky packed his bag – the poor man hadn’t actually unpacked it yet – and he set off to go mustering in the Northern Territory. It was a long tiring drive for him, 14 hours to a station near Arnhem Land between Katherine and Darwin.
The Northern Territory is home to a big population of buffalo, mostly wild. When Locky was on his way to the station, travelling on dirt road, he came across one buffalo on the side of the road. Coming from the Kimberley, which is cattle country only, Locky did what every good tourist would do. He stopped the car, got out, and took a photo.
This memory still makes him laugh today. It was the skinniest, most run out looking buffalo he could have come across. At that point though, it was the first one he had seen in years. He was not aware then, that coming up the “driveway” of the station only half an hour later, he would see many a buffalo. He would see even more during the four weeks of mustering – bulls, cows, and calves. He would even get the chance to try out the buffalo version of a bull buggy.
Locky has caught many a bull (cattle, not buffalo) in the Kimberley. This is done mostly by “rolling” them after chasing them in the buggy (look up our previous blogs, as I have written one on bull catching a couple of years ago!). Buffalo appear to have the same physique as cattle, but their slightly shorter legs make it near impossible to roll them like cattle. You would risk running over and breaking their legs. Buffalo bull buggies are usually equipped with a so called “arm”, a hydraulic device, that catches the buffalo by “clamping” around their neck as you drive alongside them. As the vehicle slows down, so the bull does.
Locky had never used such an arm before, but had been keen to try them out. He finally got the chance to catch a few buffalo as well as bulls while in the N.T., which was quite the excitement. And those buffalo bulls he caught were very different from the poor bugger on the side of the road, whose memory still makes Locky cackle.
The four weeks went incredibly quickly. For Locky it was the new place, new people, and the new challenges that made time fly. For me it definitely was the fact that our big trip was so close. With all the preparations, four weeks didn’t seem long enough in the end. We were both incredibly happy to have each other back though and could not wait to spend the next three months together as a little family without any interruption.
And so, just before Christmas, we set off and made our way across to the other side of the world to spend an amazing and amazingly cold three months in Europe.
Thanks for reading this blog.
Tini and Locky