The end of an era was per­fectly cap­tured by Grenville Turner on a clas­sic out­back cat­tle sta­tion.

Australian Geographic - - Contents - By Chrissie Goldrick

The last muster on a clas­sic out­back cat­tle sta­tion

THIS SWEEP­ING PANORAMA, taken on the crack­ing clay plains of Mit­tiebah Sta­tion in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory, could be a scene from the 1946 film The Over­lan­ders. This film painted such a pow­er­ful pic­ture of the ro­mance of the out­back that it changed the life of David Jose­land, who’s in the cen­tre of this photo (stand­ing).

When David be­came an or­phan aged six, he be­came the youngest ever boarder at Cran­brook, an ex­clu­sive Syd­ney pri­vate school. In the hol­i­days, he of­ten stayed to help out at his­toric Bell­trees, a cat­tle sta­tion in the Hunter Val­ley, and sev­eral other prop­er­ties. This sparked his love of the bush, but see­ing The Over­lan­ders ce­mented his de­sire to spend his life in the cat­tle coun­try of the NT.

Com­mis­sioned by the Aus­tralian govern­ment’s World War II pro­pa­ganda unit to pro­mote

our do­mes­tic con­tri­bu­tion to the war ef­fort, the film was based on true sto­ries and told of the heroic ex­ploits of cat­tle gra­ziers who moved vast herds south and east across the con­ti­nent, away from the Ja­panese foe bear­ing down on the north­ern bor­der.The film starred much-loved Aussie ac­tor Chips Raf­ferty, re­garded by some as the Gary Cooper of Aus­tralia, in the lead role. It was a rol­lick­ing ad­ven­ture story that ide­alised the drov­ing life, made he­roes of its true blue cat­tle folk and show­cased the Aus­tralian out­back.

“Af­ter see­ing The Over­lan­ders, Dad’s dream was to meet my mother [He­len Grieve, the young star of The Over­lan­ders, whom he did even­tu­ally marry], work on the land and have that ru­ral life,” says David’s daugh­ter Janie Jose­land-Ben­nett, who ap­pears fifth from left in the photo. And he ful­filled that dream. On leav­ing school, David be­came a jacka­roo on prop­er­ties around the NT, be­fore co-pur­chas­ing the lease to Ever­ard Park Sta­tion, a cat­tle-run in the Anangu Pit­jan­t­jat­jara Yankun­yt­jat­jara (APY) lands of South Aus­tralia, where he set­tled, mar­ried and raised his children. In the 1970s, fol­low­ing some tough drought years, David headed north and leased Mit­tiebah Sta­tion, more than of prime cat­tle coun­try on the Barkly Table­lands. Af­ter nearly 20 years there as one of Aus­tralia’s lead­ing beef pro­duc­ers, David moved to a prop­erty near Tu­mut in New South Wales, where he lived un­til his death in 2015.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Grenville Turner cap­tured the fi­nal day of the Jose­land fam­ily’s last cat­tle muster on Mit­tiebah in 1988, be­fore the new lease­hold­ers took over. David stands proudly at the front of his drov­ing team that in­cludes three of his children, Janie,Tim and Will, his head stock­man, Peter Par­low, and his reg­u­lar drov­ing crew.

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