Central and North Burnett Times - - FAMILY ON THE LAND -

MY NAME is Haydn Sale. My wife Jane and I live and work at Yougawalla Sta­tion.

Jane and some of the other women from lo­cal pas­toral sta­tions came up with the great idea for this blog, to give people an in­sight into the day to day op­er­a­tions and dra­mas of life on a re­mote cat­tle sta­tion.

The work here on the sta­tion is of­ten hot and hard with at times quite ridicu­lous chal­lenges thrown at you – mar­kets, weather and the chal­lenges of isolation – but we love it and could not imag­ine do­ing any­thing else.

Part of liv­ing in such a re­mote area is the angst and worry for your fam­ily and work­mates if they were to be in an ac­ci­dent. We are four hours from the near­est hospi­tal by road, which at times is im­pass­able due to wet weather.

This worry be­came a ter­ri­fy­ing re­al­ity two years ago when Jane was se­ri­ously in­jured on the sta­tion.

Jane works ex­tremely hard dur­ing the mus­ter­ing sea­son, of­ten co-or­di­nat­ing musters from the ground and con­trol­ling the yard work and draft­ing of cat­tle.

I fly a he­li­copter we use for mus­ter­ing the cat­tle and I am of­ten away from the yards on an­other muster or at our neigh­bour­ing property.

The cat­tle are only han­dled once per year and are out of the yards within 24 hours to re­duce the stress on them.

From time to time an­i­mals that have never been yarded in their life come in with the mob. These have es­caped musters in the past and are ba­si­cally wild an­i­mals that have never been in con­tact with hu­mans.

These are called clean­skins (no brands or tags to iden­tify them). Clean­skin bulls are es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous due to their size, sharp horns and gen­er­ally ag­gres­sive at­ti­tude.

On one muster in July 2011, a large clean­skin bull came in with a mob of cat­tle.

On this day I was on my way to Bulka in the he­li­copter to do other jobs, while Jane and the crew were tak­ing care of the cat­tle in the yards and draft­ing.

I re­alised not long into the jour­ney I had for­got­ten my satel­lite phone that I al­ways carry for safety or

When I landed and got out I saw Jane sit­ting on the ground with a large ban­dage around her head and blood all over her face and clothes.


break­downs. I turned back to the yards to pick it up – this turned out to be very lucky.

When fly­ing in to land I no­ticed the boys jump­ing around try­ing to sig­nal me and knew straight away some­thing was wrong.

When I landed and got out I saw Jane sit­ting on the ground with a large ban­dage around her head and blood all over her face and clothes.

The boys were se­verely shaken and told me she had been at­tacked by a clean­skin bull. The bull had smashed a gate off its hinges right where Jane had been stand­ing on the other side and had at­tacked her, smash­ing her against the fence, throw­ing her in the air and par­tially scalp­ing her head across the fore­head and all the way to the back of her head.

The first thing to do was call the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice for as­sis­tance.

The prob­lem was the RFDS plane had just left on an­other job and would be at least two hours to get to us.

I knew straight away this was go­ing to be too long – I de­cided I had to fly her to the hospi­tal my­self in the he­li­copter.

I think that was the long­est 90 min­utes of my life and I am sure it was for Jane. She had no pain killers and as the adren­a­line wore off from the ac­ci­dent and shock set in she was in hor­ri­ble pain and start­ing to look weak.

To watch her suf­fer was the most hor­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence of my life. She did not com­plain and was brave be­yond words and fi­nally we reached the airstrip where an am­bu­lance was wait­ing. They gave her mor­phine and the re­lief was pal­pa­ble for both of us.

The Fitzroy Cross­ing Hospi­tal checked Jane over and sta­bilised her con­di­tion but she still needed more scans and im­me­di­ate plas­tic surgery for her head.

Three hun­dred-plus stitches later, Jane’s scalp was put back to­gether. She also had bro­ken ribs and se­vere bruis­ing all over her body. The ac­ci­dent brought in to fo­cus for us the daily dan­gers of work out here and the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion of that dan­ger by isolation.

We do ev­ery­thing we can to be safe, but from time to time ac­ci­dents hap­pen, it is the fi­nal out­come that counts.

I con­sider my­self and my chil­dren very lucky to still have Jane and I have seen a side to her char­ac­ter that makes me swell with pride.


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