De­ter­mined to pro­duce best beef

Gra­zier doesn’t let wheel­chair stop him

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By EMMA REID

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.

PHOTO: BEN TURN­BULL BUN020516COOK2

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.

PHO­TOS: BEN TURN­BULL

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.

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