Family hits the road to keep cattle alive
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.