Forget the Olympics, I’d take cows any day!

Host: El Questro Station
Written by Dartanion Salerno – Owner, El Questro Station.

This 12 year old gymnast come cattleman tells how he got happy back in the outback!

Written by Dartanion Salerno, 12 years old.

3.1 Dartanion - handstand on bull copyDartanion doing a handstand on a bull.

A few years ago I started gymnastics and was really good at it – I moved to the Gold Coast to train. It was tough and all I would do is train, eat, and sleep gymnastics. I won a lot of medals and last year won first place at the National Championships. Everyone told me I should train for the Olympics.

But ever since I was born I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to work with cattle. I have always been a cattleman at heart. Anyone who feels like I do would know what I mean. Here is a little about my story.

3.2 Dartanion processing calves copyDartanion processing calves.

I just flew back on the plane from Brisbane to our family farm in Kununurra. I was so happy to be out of the city. I don’t understand the way of the city, city life is not for me. Being on the station and with the cattle, that’s for me! When I drove out to the farm I was so happy. Ben was waiting for me – Ben is my uncle, he’s my good friend, and he helps to look after me.

3.3 Dartanion with cousin Rom & brother Marcus copyDartanion with cousin Rom & brother Marcus.

I really liked seeing my mum and giving her the biggest hug. We have a big family so I got to be with everyone again. It’s really hot here – it’s about 40 degrees and at night we have the air conditioning going. What I’m really happy about is that we are having our muster in about one week. Cows are my most favourite animal and mustering is my most favourite thing. I’ve been helping with the muster for five years now.

3.4 Drone watching us from above copyA drone watching us from above.

Before we had the station we had another farm in Adelaide and I use to feed all the cows on that farm. I was only little but I used to look forward to seeing the cows everyday. Now we have a much, much bigger station with 8000 head of cattle.

3.5 Cows yarded up copyCows yarded up.

Hawkeye runs the station – he’s my other uncle. He called me up in Queensland and said to come home, we have a big muster coming up and he needs me home. He knew I couldn’t wait . . .

I also take care of all the poddy calves on the farm. Sometimes we can have up to 50 at any one time. They often end up here because they have been separated from their mothers or they are orphaned. I have done this job for a few years now. I had to wake up throughout the night to feed them. Anyone who has done this before will know it’s not the easiest thing to do. It’s not my favourite thing, but business is business and it’s a job which needs to be done. I used to like doing this more when I was little.

3.6 with the calves copyDartanion with the calves.

All my calves have names. Fenella was the name of one of the poddy calves I looked after. She won prize poddy of the year for the best poddy calf at the Kununurra show. I remember when she got out of the area we had her in on the farm and we spent far too much time looking for her – one whole afternoon and a whole morning. There was quite a few of us looking for her. We finally tracked her down.

3.7 Occy, Jackson, Marcus & Dartanion - Waiting to process calves copyOccy, Jackson, Marcus, and Dartanion all waiting to process calves.

We also have 72 chooks and Ben and I look after them.

We are just starting to set up the camp for the muster. When I went out to help set up yesterday I noticed the billabong has risen. Ben and I have never seen it that high. It’s still really hot – about 38 degrees – but I cannot wait to sleep out there.

I’ve been practising with the whip again. My mum told me when I was little I had this handmade whip uncle Ben made for me. I used to crack it all the time and no one else could. I didn’t know this then, but I just seem to be able to crack a whip really well.

When I was doing my handstand and I was looking at the cows upside down today, I was thinking about all of the training I did on the Gold Coast for gymnastics. I trained four days a week for 12 hours in total but I would always be training, at home or wherever I was. Yet, this doesn’t compare to what we have to do at the muster. Fencing 12 hours a day, 7 days a week without a break in 40 degree heat – but I wouldn’t give up station life for anything!

So it came to decision time . . . Olympics or a yes to uncle Hawkeye’s mustering call. Well, you know what I have chosen!

3.8 RIP R22 - lucky the pilot lived on! With my brother Marcus & cousin Romulus copyRIP R22 – lucky the pilot lived on! With my brother Marcus and cousin Romulus (we weren’t in the helicopter when this happened!).