‘I WAS QLD’S FIRST MOUNTED PO­LICE­WOMAN’

Heather Crack This die-hard coun­try girl started her rid­ing ca­reer on top of her pet cow!

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - ’60s - Rose­mary Arnold

Mo­torists driv­ing along the New Eng­land High­way out of Bris­bane that hot Novem­ber day back in 1960 pulled over and pinched them­selves. No, they weren’t hal­lu­ci­nat­ing. That re­ally was an 11-year-old blonde, bare-footed girl, can­ter­ing down the mid­dle of the road astride a Jersey cow. “My dad wouldn’t let me have a horse so I rode Heidi,” ex­plains Heather Crack (nee Doran) to­day. “I was a real lit­tle cow­girl.”

Times were tough on the Doran 65-hectare dairy farm. Heather’s mum had died that Au­gust, and when the lack of money dashed her dream of own­ing a con­ven­tional mount, horse-crazy Heather found a new use for her three-year-old pet cow.

“I rode Heidi ev­ery­where. She had a bri­dle and reins, but we couldn’t af­ford a sad­dle, so I went bare­back.”

In time, Heather was able to swap Heidi for horses and she be­came Queensland’s first mounted po­lice­woman, pa­trolling the streets of Bris­bane in 1975.

Af­ter 11 years in the force, she re­signed to start a fam­ily, and bought acreage at Buc­can, 46km south of Bris­bane, where to­day she has her own busi­ness clip­ping and spell­ing horses.

Now a “very ac­tive” 69, di­vorced with two chil­dren in their 30s, Heather, who’s now also nan to two girls aged five and four months, cher­ishes her idyl­lic bush child­hood.

“Things were hard for us. Dad had to leave the farm to work in an en­gi­neer­ing com­pany in Bris­bane to make ends meet, which meant I was a vir­tual mother to my younger brothers, Peter and Bruce.

“But along with the cook­ing, clean­ing, wash­ing and iron­ing and milk­ing the cows, I had fun. Heidi re­ally en­joyed be­ing rid­den. I think she be­gan to be­lieve she was a horse, espe­cially when I set up tiny jumps in the pad­dock for her.

“Every day I milked her, brushed her coat and pol­ished her horns. I loved Heidi and was so sad when she died at a good old age.

“I re­ceived a lot of at­ten­tion when Woman’s Day wrote about me rid­ing Heidi on the high­way, but back then it was one lane with hardly any traf­fic. You’d be mad to ride a cow on that busy road to­day!”

In 1978, Woman’s Day talked to five women who were mak­ing waves in their cho­sen fields – pi­o­neers in a man’s world.

As Aus­tralia’s first – and for the next 12 years its only – fe­male he­li­copter pi­lot, Rose­mary Arnold has led a life of dizzy­ing ups and downs.

Qual­i­fy­ing in 1965, she flew mostly in Syd­ney un­til she went to live in the US in 1983, ac­cept­ing a fly­ing job that didn’t ma­te­ri­alise. With only $10 in her pocket, she set up her own he­li­copter com­pany, earn­ing $7500 on her first day.

“I closed the busi­ness af­ter a $10 mil­lion law­suit fol­low­ing the death of an Ital­ian movie star in a chopper crash – owned and pi­loted by an­other com­pany – dur­ing film­ing,” says Heather.

She re­turned home in 1998, com­pleted a Bach­e­lor of Avi­a­tion and be­came a lec­turer at the Uni­ver­sity of Western Syd­ney.

The four-times mar­ried mum-of-four, who’s now 84, also qual­i­fied as a mar­riage cel­e­brant and set up an­other busi­ness to con­duct he­li­copter wed­dings.

“I also did fu­ner­als and scat­tered ashes from the he­li­copter,” says Rose­mary, who re­tired from fly­ing and cel­e­brant work in 2017.

But that doesn’t mean this ac­tive oc­to­ge­nar­ian is put­ting her feet up!

“I’m just about to drive my Mercedes Sprinter Win­nebago from my home in Port Fairy [in Vic­to­ria] to Syd­ney,” she says. “I’m do­ing a fi­nal wed­ding for a friend.”

Sin­gle Rose­mary won’t be alone on the road. “My three York­shire ter­ri­ers, Ge­orge, Rita and Daisy, will be com­ing with me,” she says. “I might not be fly­ing any­more but I still like to travel. I’m not slow­ing down yet!”

Heather caused quite a stir when she rode her cow down the high­way!

Rose­mary is used to break­ing glass ceil­ings.

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