Determined to produce best beef
Grazier doesn’t let wheelchair stop him
ROB Cook lay in the dust at Australia’s most remote cattle property with one thought – breathe. It was 2008 and the 27-year-old was working – rounding up cattle in a helicopter on SupleJack Downs Station, in the Northern Territory, when his life changed forever. The father of two’s helicopter plummeted to the ground and he was three hours away from help and not able to move. He survived by willing himself just to pant – those short shallow breaths kept him alive until help arrived. Eight years after he went through months of torturous rehabilitation, and with the support of his friends and family, Mr Cook hasn’t let being confined to a wheelchair – and not being able to move his body from the shoulders down – stop him.
Through innovative farming practices and the use of ground-breaking technology he is producing some of the highest quality beef in Queensland at his property at South Kolan.
CATTLE farming is in Rob Cook’s blood and after breaking his neck one of his first thoughts was getting back on the land.
The third-generation cattleman’s life was turned up side down in a 2008 helicopter crash in the Northern Territory.
His life on the land, and will to live, were two of the things Mr Cook, 35, said kept him alive in the moments after the accident.
“The idea of me laying there thinking about panting, keeping my diaphragm bouncing – thinking about breathing, Mr Cook said.
“I didn’t understand at the time I was just struggling to breath.
“The doctors said ‘had you not been fit leading up the crash you would not have survived.”
Survive he did and now he is working hard to give the next generation of his family a future on the land.
Mr Cook was told he would be on a ventilator for life and would never breathe on his own again.
The passion inside him grew because he knew he had to give it his all for wife, Sarah, and children, Braxton and Lawson.
He said many months of hard work passed as he fought to return to normality.
“It started out when I was awake I could breathe by myself and at night they would turn the machine back on,” he said.
“As each day passed the doctors withdrew assistance and forced me to do more on my own.”
Mr Cook said when he first sat in a wheelchair and he had to learn to steer with his chin and he knew he had obstacles to overcome.
Now Mr Cook can use the muscle in the back of his right shoulder to help manoeuvrer him around.
“I spent hours willing my hand to move, and it was exhausting. I went to bed exhausted and I hadn’t actually moved,” he said.
“One thing lead to another and I finally was able to move the muscle.”
The climate in the north was not good for the stockman’s lungs which brought them to purchasing the property, Tandara, at South Kolan.
Mr Cook uses great technology on the farm but said it would be useless without the support of his family, employees and life-long friends including Matt Orgill who oversees the day-to-day operations at the farm.
What he has achieved could be written into the script of any Hollywood blockbuster. .
“As a kid mum always said ‘you know that’s what your life is going to be, your life is a story and you’re the author and it’s up to you to fill the page,” he said.
ON THE LAND: Rob Cook talks about the day ahead to Lawson Cook as Sarah Cook prepares feed for the cattle. Rob Cook watches the progress of the day's work as Sarah and Lawson Cook take feed to the cattle.
BIG DAY AHEAD: Lawson, Rob and Braxton Cook prepare feed for the cattle at Tandara.
Lawson and Braxton are hard at work on Tandara feeding the cattle.
Barley is grown at Tandara to be fed to cattle to enhance the flavour.