Host: Lochon Contracting
Written by Tini O’Loughlin – Owner, Lochon Contracting.
4.30am – the alarm goes off. It is still pitch black outside when we get up and prepare ourselves for a yet another day on a Kimberley cattle property. We are on Margaret River Station, where we are currently contract mustering for Jane and Haydn Sale. Those two troopers manage and part own three stations between Fitzroy Crossing and Halls Creek and have us running part of the mustering.
It is coffee and toast for breakfast, while the whole team sits together planning the day ahead of us. Ben and Tim, the two helicopter pilots, would fly out to the far end of the paddock to start bringing out the cattle, while Locky and Warrick would go behind the mob in the bull buggy and on the motorbike. Shaun, Gerwin and I would take two vehicles to go around the other side of the same paddock to fix up two more floodgates. The day before we all had been standing floodgates and repairing broken wires along the paddock’s fenceline, but daylight beat us before we could finish the job. Going through one creek after another, I realized why this station was named after the mighty river – this bit of land seems to be ALL river. There is creeks and gullies and rivers and streams just about everywhere. But, how beautiful this place is. Hills and rocky ridges provide for an amazing landscape and gorgeous views.
There wasn’t much of a view though in the sandy river bed. To get there we had to do some serious four wheel driving, which made it a very slow process. It was a rather warm day and carrying pickets and dragging wire through the boggy sand didn’t make it any better. We managed to stand the floodgates in a good time and started heading back around to help push the tail. When we got on top of a hill from where we could see the first gate through which the cattle had to be brought, we spotted the helicopters working the mob of cattle not far from it. The lead was just making it’s way through the riverbed. This can be a crucial time of the muster. The banks are lined with big leafy trees. This makes it particularly hard for the choppers to keep pushing the cattle. The animals have to go down and up steep river banks. Before hitting the creek, it is helpful to have the cattle running at a good and steady pace, so that they keep moving across without trying to break out of the mob. All the while Locky and Warrick were following the tail up.
Shaun, Gerwin and I sat on top of “the hill with a view” and watched the scene, listening to the conversation on the UHF radio. We waited for the mob to come through the gate, so we could help Locky and Warrick. Once they had all gone through, however, we had to pull up to fix a few wires that had broken along the fenceline. Ok, so we had already missed the main part of the muster and we were now left behind the tail watching their dust in a distance. So, we cut, we joined, we pulled, we strained, and then made some dust ourselves trying to catch up with everyone. Believe it or not, by the time we reached the mob of cattle, the tail was all that was left of it for us. We were literally there to push the last handful of cattle into the yard. Great timing. So much for a day out mustering. But, that’s how it goes. There is more to mustering then just walking the cattle from the paddocks into the yard. Everyone’s job is equally important.
Well after about nine more of her friends tied up on the ground across the paddock, the plan was, to come back with the truck and buggy to load them and take them back to the yard. So, after yarding up and a quick cup of tea, we drove off with this mighty plan in mind, only the 4×4 truck never made it across the sandy creek. We ended up just getting to the animals, tipping their horns and letting them go. What a lucky day for them. In fact, it was was a good day for all of us. We ended up with a yard full of cattle, a few funny stories to tell and no injuries to regret. So, all in all, this was just an ordinary day on a Kimberley cattle station. Lots to do and lots to love about it.
Stay tuned and thank you for reading this.
Tini and Locky