Cat­tle­men in Pearls

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - NEWS -

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.

PHOTO: TRACEY HART­MANN

HER STORY: Ali­son Atkin­son’s bi­o­graph­i­cal story in Cat­tle­men in Pearls is called The Power of

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