Drover stranded on long paddock

A DROVER and his family have been left stranded on the side of the road after the Local Land Services (LLS) revoked their permit for travelling stock.

Jason Burns, his wife Del, and three children – Cody, 14, nine-year-old Jet and six-year-old Colton – were stationed with 800 cows and 100 calves at the Booloroo bridge, just north of Moree on the Newell Highway when they spoke with the media on Wednesday.

The family has been on the road for 12 months, starting out in Brewarrina.

Their original destination was to the owners’ property in Winton.

Mr Burns said he spoke with the stock ranger in November and he was given the all clear to travel to Queensland, but once they arrived near Westmar, they had to turn around.

With the drought conditions and dying stock littering the landscape, there were thousands of cattle on the road in front of Mr Burns’ mob.

“We had nowhere to go. We couldn’t put them on a truck; some of them were too poor,” he said. “When we asked to go back to NSW we had to give a destination. We didn’t know where to go so we made the decision to go to Tenterfield as they had a bit of rain.

“Between Westmar and North Star we had no rain so the owner decided to walk them home as Moree, Bellata and those sort of areas had a bit of rain.

“We still have another mob of these cattle towards North Star that are desperate to get out now.”

And this is where Mr Burns’ trouble with the LLS started.

“We got to the  Croppa Creek road but when we changed our destination they cancelled all our permits. The local girl was good enough to give us a permit to travel from Moree to Millie. She was very compassionate and she knew we would get through, but the head man stopped her.

“They called me at 9.30 on Tuesday morning to say the permits were cancelled.

“Now I’m stuck here. I refuse to walk these cattle to death.

“They’ve been through hell and back and they are in pretty good order.

“They can take me to jail if they want; it doesn’t worry me.

“The welfare of these cattle is more important to me than any piece of paper. I want to keep them safe and healthy.”

Mr Burns said he was droving a portion of one of Australia’s best angus breeding herds.

“They didn’t offer us any options. The head ranger just said it was in solicitors’ hands.”

The LLS has defended its decision, saying Mr Burns had been given a number of options.

“We provided an alternate option to walk the cattle to the Moree saleyards and truck them or to extend the current permit for his destination in the Northern Tablelands,” North West LLS team leader Gerard O’Connor said.

“We even identified an area of feed near Delungra they could utilise.

“I have had numerous discussions with them of which they find no satisfaction.”

Mr O’Connor said the LLS had a responsibility to ensure there were no welfare issues associated with the travelling stock routes.

“Other boards south aren’t accepting walking stock as they are in similar condition to us,” he said.

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