Cattlemen in Pearls
Cattlemen in Pearls isa biographical book that pays tribute to women in agriculture, specifically Australia’s beef industry. It was self-published by Ian and Anne Galloway with five authors: Annabelle Brayley, Paula Heelan, Tracey Hartmann, Claire Mactaggart and Amanda Salisbury. This is an extract of Alison Atkinson’s story, one of the 28 cattlemen featured, written by Tracey Hartmann.
THE gravitas of carrying the Atkinson name in the droughtmaster breed is not something Alison Atkinson takes lightly.
Her cattle all had lineage back to Mungalla and Glen Ruth, both pioneering studs owned by Robert Lamont (Monty) Atkinson.
Alison was once married to Monty’s son, Alan, and in partnership with the family they developed the prestigious Valley Droughtmaster stud that broke records in the 1980s.
But it is what she has achieved on her own, and the way she conducts herself, that makes the family most proud.
Alison’s stud prefixes Durack and Orana also helped keep the Atkinson name in the record books.
King Lethbridge and his wife Isabel raised seven children in the ‘middle of nowhere’ on an expansive property called Werrington in the lower gulf area of Far North Queensland.
Alison can still hear her mother Isabel, saying “you can be a girl who works out in the paddock doing all the boy stuff, but you can still be a lady” and Alison repeats the same mantra to her four daughters, Kylie, Sherri, Gayle and Robyn.
Alison’s love of the Gulf’s big country was put into practice when she moved with her then husband Alan to the Atkinson’s property, Valley of Lagoons, at age 21.
It was 300 square miles of forest country divided by the Burdekin River, west of Ingham.
It was progressively subdivided down to 64,700 hectares.
She would spend weeks away from the homestead at mustering camps as they transitioned from herefords to droughtmasters, and worked alongside a team of mostly Aboriginal stockmen.
It was hard physical work on horseback and long hours drafting cattle; enough to make a grown man curse, but not Alison.
“Amidst the heat, dust and drama, somehow Mum always managed to remain ladylike,” says eldest daughter Kylie.
■ You can purchase your copy of Cattlemen in Pearls online at www.cattlemen inpearls.com.
HER STORY: Alison Atkinson’s biographical story in Cattlemen in Pearls is called The Power of