Fam­ily hits the road to keep cat­tle alive

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

QUILPIE cat­tle­woman Carolyn Burnes and her hus­band have been on the road with their two chil­dren, six and 11 years old, since Fe­bru­ary, drov­ing their 1000 head mob.

“Drov­ing isn’t the ro­man­tic job peo­ple think it can be,” she said.

“It’s 24/7, no days off and you’re liv­ing, work­ing, sleep­ing and breath­ing with your cat­tle.

“You’ve also got to think about the safety of them on the road and also the safety of the peo­ple in their cars.”

Since they left the fam­ily hasn’t been home and as a re­sult, they had to sell their home prop­erty.

“We now have a mo­bile trailer which is our liv­ing quar­ters,” she said.

“We gen­er­ally try to do a big gro­cery shop in the town we are clos­est to, we try to sup­port them when we can.

“We have fridges and freez­ers and that can be a bit of an ex­pense some­times

be­cause we have to use gen­er­a­tors.”

Mrs Burnes said sell­ing the cat­tle wasn’t vi­able for them.

“There’s quite a lot we’ve been hold­ing on to for the last few months be­cause we can’t af­ford to sell for the low prices so we’re hop­ing for rain to lift them a bit,” she said.

“I’m just a gra­zier who is try­ing to look af­ter their


“We were in Spring­sure for a bit but the feed ran out so we had no other choice but to leap frog up to Emer­ald and Cler­mont.”

She said be­ing on the road has its strug­gles.

“Los­ing cat­tle is part of

own­ing them, we want to see them healthy and we do ev­ery­thing we can for them be­cause we love them,” she said.

“We’ve lost some cat­tle for health rea­sons and we’ve lost cat­tle be­cause of peo­ple go­ing too fast in their ve­hi­cles and that hurts the most.”

Up un­til just re­cently the fam­ily of four were drov­ing on their own.

“At the mo­ment we have four staff and they have a few dogs each which help out,” she said.

“It was get­ting to the point where we were start­ing to get quite sick from work­ing too hard.

“It’s not re­ally fi­nan­cially vi­able but it has made things a lot eas­ier for us.”

Dur­ing their trav­els Mrs Burnes said it’s heart­break­ing to see what the drought is do­ing to the coun­try.

“It’s re­ally putting a fi­nan­cial strain on peo­ple and it’s ab­so­lutely ex­haust­ing,” she said.

“A lot of peo­ple are quick to judge but it’s so hard to make

the calls when we don’t know when the next rain is com­ing.

“It’s ab­so­lutely dev­as­tat­ing to see what this drought is do­ing to our farm­ers.”

Mrs Burnes said while a lot of prepa­ra­tion goes into drov­ing, it can be un­pre­dictable.

“We’ve got our kids on the road with us so you have to bal­ance the cat­tle with do­ing their school­ing and other nor­mal home stuff,” she said.

“But at the same time it’s a great learn­ing curve for them they’re both very handy with cat­tle. It’s a big job.”

While on the road, the kids do their school­ing while they travel.

“They do their ed­u­ca­tion by dis­tance so we just send the work away when it’s been done,” she said.

“I think some days they would like to feel a bit more se­cure and that thought plays on your mind as a par­ent as

❝ Drov­ing isn’t the ro­man­tic job peo­ple think it can be. — Carolyn Burnes


“But I re­ally hope get­ting these valu­able life lessons means they will be grounded and ap­pre­cia­tive young peo­ple.”

She said de­spite the chal­lenges work­ing with her kids is a priv­i­lege.

“It’s ex­pos­ing them to things other kids don’t usu­ally see,” she said.

“Work­ing with them we get to pass on our knowl­edge of work­ing with the cat­tle and stuff like that is some­thing that should be handed down to the next gen­er­a­tion.”

Mrs Burnes said they will be hang­ing around the Cler­mont and Emer­ald area for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“It’s all very de­pen­dent on what’s avail­able,” she said.

“At this stage so all we can do at the mo­ment is hope there is a pad­dock some­where or that we get some good rain.”


LONG ROAD: The Burnes fam­ily have been drov­ing cat­tle since Fe­bru­ary to keep them fed.

Quilpie gra­zier Carolyn Burnes said her chil­dren have had to do their school­ing on the road.

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