THE cattle drive that’s captured a country’s attention has settled into the region, with the first of 12 mobs crossing the Gwydir River north of Moree this week.
The great Brinkworth cattle drive is the first of its kind since the days of Sidney Kidman. While there are plenty of romantic notions about long days in the saddle, it’s a hard slog for the 50 or so drovers looking after the thousands of cattle. The first mob of 1200 is expected to reach Hay by Christmas, with the others taking another few months to get there. South Australian millionaire pastoralist Tom Brinkworth made a gamble when he purchased 18,000 head from the Australian Agricultural Company earlier this year, but instead of trucking – which would have cost about the same as droving – he chose to walk the cattle more than 1500km from Longreach to his Hay property, Uardry Station, in southern NSW. Head drover Bill Little leads the consignment on his horse Maverick, with another five drovers looking after the first mob of 1200 head. The drive has received widespread media coverage, with all major newspapers and television and radio stations tuning in.
There have been plenty of challenges along the way, including water and feed shortages and clogged stock routes, but Mr Little said for most of the drovers, young and old, it was the best experience they could get in the saddle.
“Plenty of people have told us we can’t do this or said it wouldn’t work, but Tom and I both like a challenge. His motto is ‘Don’t give up’ and I’m a bit the same – but my pockets aren’t as big,” Mr Little said.