If you’ve got something, make the best of it and make it happen

Host: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development — Aboriginal Business Development Project
Written by Daisy Goodwin, Development Officer

Robin Yeeda manages Lamboo station in the Kimberley. Robin came to the Kimberley in his teens and begun working on stations with his father. His father was an overseer on Lamboo and when a managerial position arose in 2002 Robin thought he’d try something different and go for it. He’s now been on Lamboo for 20 years and is as passionate as ever.

Robin Yeeda of Lamboo Station.

In 2004, Robin became involved with the Indigenous Landholder Service — now the Aboriginal Business Development (ABD) project at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. Robin said he feels lucky to have worked so closely with ABD over the years as he’s learnt a lot. Over the years he has participated in multiple courses and workshops such as Grazing for Profit, Low Stock Stress Handling, and an eight month Certificate III in Beef Production at the rural college in Katherine.

The biggest event he attended was the Rural Leadership Course in Canberra and Broome. Robin said “I was the only black fella there and at most of those courses actually. But it’s not about the colour of your skin — I’m just there to learn. I always felt comfortable. You’ve got to get out there”. Robin is currently saving for his niece Darrylin to attend the same Rural leadership conference, “. . . we might have to put some money aside for awhile, but it’s worth it, and Darrylin is a great asset to us, she should go”. Recently, Darrylin and Robin attended the ABARES Northern Regional Outlook conference in Kununurra with ABD. It was a great opportunity to network with other pastoralists and listen to some interesting presentations. Robin resonated with a presentation on climate change and said he could already see the impacts – “ . . . over the years the wet and dry patterns have changed, we hardly ever get monsoonal season now. If people keep polluting like they are now it’s gonna be scary”.

Robin has made major improvements on Lamboo over the years. He told me about the old yards they called the bone yards — “A few of us boys got hurt over the years, I got chucked off a horse and fell on a gate. Now looking back at it, it was more fun, people were more awake, I kinda miss it” — well that’s one way of looking at it! Next year he plans on putting in a few more paddocks. “We’ve already surveyed the land with a chopper. Now that we’ve had a look and know the land types we can choose where the paddocks will be”.

Robin at the yards on a visit to Glen Hill station.

The next year will be a big one for Robin as he is working on becoming an Indigenous Pastoral Consultant. He says ‘I’m excited to be able a better liaison for Indigenous people and provide better understanding of their situation. We all have different issues but one main goal, so hopefully using my experience on what we have achieved so far I can help other people with how to go about it. There’s a lot more that goes into running a station than people realise. For example at the moment we are recognising heritage sites on our property. Even though people in the past haven’t been too worried, it’s important. So this will be a new challenge for us and one which I’ll be able to share with other people”. Robin said he has been lucky to have various mentors over the years and is glad that the ‘ABD mob’ will be helping out!

When asked if he had any advice for people just starting out he replied, “I always say, Indigenous people have potential in the cattle industry, if you got something, make the best of it and make it happen”. Robin recognises the importance of getting out to courses and field days – “Contact the bodies and see what events are on, make an effort. If you want a change you have to raise your hand and do something about it. Try and be independent and don’t just wait for something to come to you”. I told Robin I thought he was a great model, he replied with a grin ‘be better if I had some more cattle! But thanks!”. We’ll get there.