Page 1

SMH Domain Drive

7:26PM Saturday Jul 10, 2010 1,284 online now See today's paper

Home ACT

Destinations

Explore Australia

New South Wales

Queensland

Find a Holiday Northern Territory

Activities

Travel Blogs

South Australia

Photos

Tasmania

Videos

Victoria

Western Australia Search here...

You are here: Home Âť Travel Âť Article

City slicker's field of dreams Join the conversation

MyCareer RSVP Newsletters More

Travel

Search

Advertisement

November 13, 2008

2 people are reading this now. Comment on Twitter . Read tweets . + People who read this also read...

Top Travel articles 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Virgin Blue's class struggle Letters: Air sick with Etihad Summer in the city of love Orient Express brings luxury trains to South-East Asia Under the Tuscan sun

Find the perfect holiday

More Travel articles

Link to image map

Story Tools

Popular holiday ideas

Share on Facebook Email this story Print this story

Photo: Tourism Queensland

Maria Visconti goes a-droving in the tracks of one of Australia's most famous bushrangers.

BY ACTIVITY BY HOLIDAY TYPE Food and wine Cruising Drives

Surfing & Diving Skiing Great outdoors

Featured advertisers

SMH Jobs Community Care Coordin... $55,000 - $60,000 Northern Suburbs, Sydney, NSW Hays Calling all Diploma tr... North Ryde, NSW 2113 Randstad Senior Retail Managers... $80,000 - $90,000 pkg Sydney CBD, NSW 2000 Hays Retail ***Manager*** - Contac... Sydney CBD, NSW 2000 GEMTEQ Executive Current jobs

Horseman Graham Woods sat on the ground contemplating his next move. He had arrived in Aramac with two horses from Rockhampton, on his way to a job in the Kimberley. Only his packhorse had gone berserk and kicked the saddlebags to bits. He had also just found out that his would-be employer in the Kimberley had passed away. There was no job for him there any more. As the Aramac townsfolk readied themselves to kick off the inaugural Harry Redford Cattle Drive that would deliver some 600 head of stock to Roma over three months, Bob Marshall, the "boss drover", could not help but notice the man in the black hat with the shredded bags at his feet. The deal was done over a few beers. Woods' expert horse skills were going to be put to good use.

help us put an end to whaling with just one word

Buying your first home? Take a look to find handy advice, news, tips, blogs and checklists.

Advertisement

Holiday Deals STAYZ

Meanwhile, Marshall, grazier and former mayor of Aramac, was finalising his hand-picked team of experienced stockmen and the mind-boggling logistics of an outback expedition. In the highly structured and organised setting of a traditional droving plant, every man knows his place. If he is a newcomer, he is shown the ropes. But what to do with guests with no knowledge whatsoever of cattle and little experience with horses? For somebody like me, joining a cattle drive was like entering that recondite place in the back of the Australian consciousness that identifies "the outback" as the essence of Australianness. This was the stuff of dreams. The Harry Redford Cattle Drive was an idea that started as a "what if?" pub conversation, and became a reality in 2002 as a

Today's bank rates


way to celebrate the Year of the Outback. The Aramac Shire, in central-west Queensland, was going to do it one more time and in the old style. They were going to move cattle along routes opened up by the old Queensland stockmen and following the path of outback hero Harry Redford. Redford, commonly known as Captain Starlight, the "gentleman" bushranger, was a legendary cattle duffer who took thousands of stolen heads through unchartered territory in the 1800s, from Bowen Downs Station, through the Strzelecki Desert to South Australia. Cattle rustling in the 19th century was a game, a dare and a good way for a contract stockman to start his own "droving plant". A "poddy pinchin' block" (unbranded cattle filched from paddocks next to droving routes) would yield enough revenue to do just that. Booming goldmining towns such as Charters Towers attracted freelance trade, and small cattle mobs coming from unexpected directions were not unusual. Isolated miners paid well for their beef, usually in pure gold right out of their "shammies" (small leather pouches) - with no questions asked.

Home Loans comparison rate

AMP Introductory Variable Rate Loan (Professional Aussie Standard Fixed

7.02%

Get info

7.35%

Get info

RAMS Fixed Rate

7.37%

Get info

AMP Fixed Rate Loan

7.58%

Get info

Compare all home loans Balance Transfers balance transfer

ANZ Low Rate

0.00%

St George Vertigo

2.99% 3.90%

This time, though, there was to be no stolen cattle. Stations all over the Aramac Shire donated heads to be auctioned at Roma at the end of the 600-kilometre ride, with the proceeds going to charity. The success of this first drive was such that the shire has since organised one every year (the next drive will be held over three weeks from May 17 to June 6, 2008).

Bank of Queensland Platinum

3.90%

The revival of long-neglected droving skills was a great idea. As road trains replaced drovers in the mid 1960s, one more pastoral craft was about to vanish.

Suncorp Bank Clear Options Standard

A cattle drive revolves around the animals and their needs. A well fed and watered mob will retire for the night like exhausted children. The same goes for the newcomers. Luckily, we city slickers were eased in with care by the patient horsemen, including Graham Woods, who became one of the most important figures on the cattle drive. Woods, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Robert Redford, was the resident horse whisperer, often called upon to calm an unsettled horse. As the days went by, our mistakes became less frequent. Woods and the stockmen tried hard to convey the message that this was not a muster, that they wanted the cattle to keep their heads down (feeding as much as they could), and that if we were to end up with healthy-looking beasts (that is "fit to be auctioned") at the other end of the trail, we could not strain and stress them. We had discovered the art of droving was a subtle one. One of the concessions made to modern droving was the use of electric fences for the cattle and horse enclosures at night. These were set up every evening and dismantled every morning. In the past, the drovers would have established a night watch with a night horse saddled at the ready to chase after breakaway leaders. Circling the settled cattle, the night watchman might have sung softly to create a wall of sound around the mob, soothing them and letting them know they were being protected. Rushes or stampedes were not uncommon, and could be started by anything, from lightning to wild pigs.

Get info

for 6 months

Suncorp Bank Clear Options Platinum

The need for preservation of the rich language and traditions linked to cattle driving in Australia has been noted by the Humanities Research Centre at the Australian National University, which is compiling an oral history of cattle driving from the stories the old drovers have to tell.

Get info

for 6 months

Get info

until repaid Get info

until repaid

Compare all credit cards Credit Cards interest rate

St George Vertigo Aussie Aussie MasterCard (Offer 1) ANZ Low Rate

12.24%

Get info

12.49%

Get info

12.99%

Get info

13.24%

Get info

Compare all credit cards Savings Accounts interest rate

UBank USaver

6.51%

Get info

6.00%

Get info

5.15%

Get info

4.75%

Get info

monthly deposit conditions

ANZ Online Saver

bonus rate until 15/11/2010

AMP First

no conditions

Suncorp Bank eOptions

no conditions

Compare all savings accounts


Although we erected electric fences every night, Lester Cain, the horse tailer, always slept near the horses - just in case. Nobody knew exactly when Cain found the time to write his poems. But the end result was always spellbinding. His poetry was earthy, funny and sharp. The slight stutter he showed in normal conversation vanished while reciting by the camp fire. The boss drover, also a bush poet, could be seen at times absorbed in moments of intense concentration, writing lines in a little notebook he always carried in his shirt pocket. He did this while mounted and watching the animals grazing to their hearts' content. It was around the night fire, after dinner, where the entertainment took place: poetry reading, chatting, or writing in leather-bound, weather-beaten journals. Simply staring at the fire was enough for some before deciding to call it a day and head for the swag. We were blessed with a full moon. The light was so intense, torches were unnecessary. The soft whinnying of the horses in the background was a comforting sound, as my tired muscles finally relaxed inside the cosy swag. There was no need for jarring alarm clocks in the mornings, thanks to the natural sounds of animal stirrings. First up was the camp's cook, traditionally a respected and sometimes feared figure (they can be temperamental), followed by the horse tailer. Despite the electric fences, hydration packs and camp chairs, the boss drover's wish was that some of the old drover ways would rub off on the wannabe ringers now under the spell of those big open skies, the track mirroring the Milky Way above, the cold nights by the roaring fires and unavoidable physical tiredness resulting from a day of outdoor work. But fundamentally, as Woods and all the horse tailers would say: "We must always thank the horses." TRIP NOTES Getting there: The 2008 Harry Redford Cattle Drive starts on May 17 and runs until June 6. The drive takes off from Lake Dunn, heads for Aramac, then to Bowen Downs and ends in Muttaburra, with a big bush celebration. Guest riders can join in at any spot for any length of time (from a day to the whole three weeks). Travel to Barcaldine or Longreach - home of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and the Qantas Founders Outback Museum - via bus, train or plane, where transport can be arranged free of charge to Aramac or the campsite. Qantas has daily flights to and from Longreach. MacAir also flies into and out of Longreach. The Spirit of The Outback (Rail Australia) visits Barcaldine and Longreach twice a week. Greyhound Australia's coaches service Barcaldine and Longreach regularly. Staying there: Guests bring their own swag. Accommodation is under the stars with guaranteed views. Some prior riding experience is essential. Further information: Horse and tack are provided for the duration of the trip. Cost is $275 per day all inclusive. Aside from the actual cattle driving experience, there are multiple festivities organised at different points of historical interest. For more details, booking forms and to view the 2007 cattle drive pictures see http://www.aramac.qld.gov.au or phone the cattle drive coordinator on (07) 4651 3311. Source: The Sun-Herald Ads by Google

Find Dude Ranches Find a dude ranch in the USA & Canada. View pics and maps too! www.duderanch.com

Nichols Vinyl Fence


3 Rail Ranch fence as low as $5.15/ft. www.nvfvinyl.com

Three Bars Guest Ranch The Adventure Ranch of the Rockies. Voted Canada's Best Dude Ranch! www.ThreeBarsRanch.com Advertisement

Find your happy place at Stayz From beachside shacks to country mansions, Stayz has over 21,000 amazing holiday rentals in over 1,400 locations around Australia to choose from. There’s no better way to relax, reconnect and rediscover what it is that makes you happy. Start looking for your happy place today

Video

Jobs

Predator returns!

Real Estate

Get what you want at an interview

Breaking News videos Entertainment and Red Carpet l Latest Sports videos

Dating

Sunny in all the wrong places

Take our Career Check-Up Follow MyCareer on Facebook l FREE MyCareer iPhone app

Buy real estate FREE Property Newsletter l Australian home designs

TheVine

Amazing Singles Party @ ivy

Alessandra Ambrosio shoot

Meet Sydney Men Party with Sydney Singles l Free Online Dating

Entertainment & celebrity news Latest in Fashion l Music news and reviews

l

l

l

l

l

l

l

l

l

l

Compare and Save

Broadband Energy Mobile Home Loans Savings Accounts

Fixed Rates, Fixed Payments

Still the top!

Lock in your repayments with a fixed rate loan

Compare all Home loans

Health Ins Deals until July 31 Get the best rate with a new high interest saver!

Great specials on health insurance, but you must sign up before July 31.

Compare Savings Accounts

Compare Health Cover Now

Google’s Phone is Here!

Go Wireless

The HTC Google Nexus One is now available in Australia.

Get a WiFi modem in your house and a new broadband plan.

Compare Mobile Phones

Compare Broadband Plans

Readers' most viewed

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Top 5 Travel articles Virgin Blue's class struggle Letters: Air sick with Etihad Summer in the city of love Orient Express brings luxury trains to South-East Asia Under the Tuscan sun

SMH Home

NSW

National

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

World

Top 5 Travel articles Virgin Blue's class struggle Summer in the city of love Letters: Air sick with Etihad Orient Express brings luxury trains to South-East Asia Under the Tuscan sun

Environment

Opinion

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Business

Top 5 Travel articles Virgin Blue's class struggle Letters: Air sick with Etihad Summer in the city of love Orient Express brings luxury trains to South-East Asia Under the Tuscan sun

Technology

Digital Life

Sydney Morning

Products & Services

Connect

Classifieds

Herald

AM Today

Mobile

Accommodation

Sitemap

Last 8 days

Newsletters

Cars

About Us

High Contrast

RSS

Dating

Contact Us

Text

Twitter

Jobs

Privacy

Newspaper subscription Facebook

Real Estate

Conditions

Shop

Property Price Data

Advertise with Us

Events

Tributes & Celebrations

Photo Sales

SEO

Place an ad

Our Sites

The Sydney Morning Herald

Our Partners

Business

Canberra

The Age

Darwin

Fitness

MyCareer

Domain

Drive

RSVP

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

1.

Top 5 Travel articles Virgin Blue's class struggle Letters: Air sick with Etihad Summer in the city of love Orient Express brings luxury trains to South-East Asia Under the Tuscan sun

Entertainment

Essential Baby

Mechanics Perth Tax Refunds Travel Agencies Copyright © 2010 Fairfax Media

Life & Style

InvestSMART Wedding

Travel

APM

Wine

2. 3. 4. 5.

Cars

Videos The Cultural Creatives are here Octopus: Spain will win World Cup Russian agents fly home Mel Gibson's alleged racist rant Tonight's TV: Monkey Grip

Exec Style

Stayz Weatherzone

Sport

The Vine

Weather

www-smh-Harry Redford Cattle Drive  

Food and wine Cruising Drives Join the conversation Story Tools Top Travel articles The Harry Redford Cattle Drive was an idea that started...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you