Then and Now

Submitted: Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:14
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Hello Folks,

Tomorrow, 4th June, marks the 48th anniversary of when I started working in the pastoral industry. Have worked for the same company through those years, though only on a casual basis, since we retired in Jan 2009.

Back in 1964, it was still hobble chains and horse bells, large horse plants up to 80 horses, a large indigenous work force and pretty rough conditions(by todays standards.) The first photo was taken at Saddle Ck yard, not far off the highway between Timber Ck and the WA border. They were good years, and the job was a way of life, not a business.

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When I'm not a steering attendant, on Barkly & Landsborough highways, I go back down the Diamantina and drive the grader through the winter months. Gives one a chance to get plenty of sleep, stop & smell the roses, & take a few photos. And the Bride is always pleased to see me, when I've been out bush for 10 days or so.....!!!

Recently I gave the camp a hand in the yards, as they were short handed, and thought this second photo indicates where the beef industry is these days. All the cattle in the yard (in fact the entire company herd, over 500K head) will be put onto the laptop, using the tag reader to read each beast's electronic tag. The reader is also wireless so as they are read, each one goes straight onto the laptop. The Honda is the perfect companion for this task, quiet and unobtrusive.

The cattle are handled through an air operated vet crush, which is good, but not as positive, nor strong, as a hydraulic set-up. This reduces the number of staff needed, to some extent, and speeds up the processing.

And for those Honda owners who get a bit anal about their unit's aircleaner, that EU20 went for about 8 or 9 hours, in terrible dust conditions, and the filter element had barely a speck of dust on it. But that was on the Econo setting.


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And these days it's usually 3 or 4 motorbikes, and a helicopter, instead of up to 20 horsemen, to go mustering. The troops go back to the station, or outstation, get good meals, have a hot shower, and sleep out of the weather, though still in their swag.

Maybe the Romance of the Swag is gone, but these young people work just as hard as we did back in the good ol' days,


Bob.
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Member - Old Girl - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:26

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:26
You should write that in the RMW mag Bob. Thanks for your story, great stuff. Bye the way regarding the honda (we have 5 in our stable) the gens are great you can add two 2k together with a $80 cable. Easiest way to cart a 4 around for those like me who love home comforts in ya van.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:13

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:13
Old Girl,

Can't beat having a spare genny, or 5, can you. Enjoy those home comforts, ha ha.

Bob.

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Follow Up By: Member - Old Girl - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:24

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:24
sorry should have said bikes, honda bikes.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:08

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:08
Hey Bob Y,
I would watch those broncos in the top picture if I were you, they have horns. LOL

Someone needed glasses when captioning that one.LOL

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:10

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:10
should have added

"It looks like a Hereford Horse" LOL

Cheers.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:24

Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:24
Bruce,

You've got it all wrong, mate. It's called bronco branding, because a horse is used to pull the calves up to the panel. He's called a bronco horse. Don't ask me why. that's how it is.

Yeah, I do wear glasses, but there's nothing wrong with the caption. That mickey would have been descended from the cattle the Duracks took up into the Kimberley, back whenever......1890's??? There might have been the odd herefors up there, we used to some baldy cattle turn up, but not in any numbers.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:34

Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:34
Bit of a senior moment there, Bruce!!! Wrong button.

That last sentence should read: "There might have been the odd hereford up there, we used to get some baldy cattle turn up.....etc. Have attached photo, to show the horse side of bronco branding. If you google 'bronco branding" there's a very good website of the Association, with many good photos, right back to early 20th century.

Image Could Not Be Found

Thanks for your comments Bruce.

Bob.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 16:15

Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 16:15
Bob,
Yep, got it. I was aware of the method that was used as soon as I saw those angled rails above the bullock but did not know it was called Bronco Branding.

I would have thought that was what they called horse branding. Mind you Bronco is a very American word and seems a little out of place in the Aussie outback.

It was probably the most used method once if not the only method, back when.

I jamb mine in the crush and ring them standing up mate, no rodeo around here. LOL

All cattle crushes and computer recognition these days I guess. Mind you it is easier to computerise now considering electronic tags are mandatory

Certainly is down here on the east coast as is many other places.

Thanks for the update.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Reply By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:35

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:35
Wow Bob. Good to see how the other half works and lives. Can't imagine the heat you would encompass, especially wearing jeans and the like. Many have said how tough bushies are and your photos certainly show it.
We enjoy visiting "outback" but have a quiet comfortable urban life to come back to. The smell of the salty ocean one thing we take a big breath of on our return. I guess you prefer a big breath of country "dust".
I clocked up 50 years in Jan this year having started as an apprentice with AIS Pt Kembla in Jan 62 at 15. Where have all those years gone. Thanks for the memories and sharing them with us. Cheers,another Bob.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:21

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:21
Congrats on your 50 years with AIS, Bob. That's something to be proud of. Wonder how many of today's apprentices will emulate your achievement? Not many, I'd suggest.

Late uncle worked for BHP/AIS all his working life. Lived a lot of years in The 'Gong, then got transferred to Whyalla, before being sent back again to east coast, where he was in charge of one of the coke ovens, I think. Must have spent some time in Newcastle too, because that's where he & the Aunt retired. One of his sons is still working at Whyalla, though think his retirement isn't too far away.

Yeah, have struck some hot days over the years, but also some bloody cold ones too. Probably had a lot more dinnertimes than dinners too LOL.

Bob.

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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:06

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:06
Toyocrusa, you beat me by 2 months, I kicked of in Sydney as an aprentice plumber in March that year.

In later years I actually got into AIS a couple of times as an outside service provider.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 05, 2012 at 06:53

Tuesday, Jun 05, 2012 at 06:53
Good on ya Bruce. Good to see us old blokes working to keep the country in finances. Don't know how your back has stood up to plumbing for all those years though. Cheers, Bob.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Tuesday, Jun 05, 2012 at 10:57

Tuesday, Jun 05, 2012 at 10:57
Toyocrusa Bob,
I have been half farmer and half maintenace guy for the last 27 years now mate.
Farming is harder than plumbing, especially the way plumbing is these days.

When I kicked off it was all cast iron stacks and gal water services, today it is all copper water pipes and plastic sewer pipes and backhoes for trenching.

My back has copped a bigger hit in this farming game than ever it did in the plumbing game.

Retired a couple of years ago and loving it. Sold off the cows and agist the place to keep the grass down. Poor old pensioner now mate, well first year apprentice.

Just finished a holiday and busy planning the next.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Reply By: Rockape - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:36

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 11:36
Bob,
good post. Great to see a bit of history and remember the changes.

just coming through your country Mt Isa on the way to W.A. and am about to change a fan belt that is starting to look a bit dodgy.

Have a good one.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:24

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:24
RA,

Hope that belt is a bit easier to change than the Tojo ones. No doubt you are still on LSL, Enjoy.

Safe travels, I'll take care of things while you're away,

Bob.


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Follow Up By: Rockape - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:04

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:04
Bob,

Yep it easier, just have to pull the 2nd battery out as it is only the alternator belt. I have to change it about every 25000k as it it an A section belt and doesn't like the load. I will retention it tomorrow at Barkley Homestead.

Mate I really got a kick out of your post.

You make sure you keep that shiny side up.

RA.
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Reply By: Graeme - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 12:24

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 12:24
Bob
You are a largely forgotten part of Australian history where you were working and learning with the wonderful indigenous stockmen.
Please at some time write it all down, as the yarns you have of all you have seen and experienced, will be lost forever. Tales of hard work and mateship are an integral part of being an Aussie.
My best wishes go with you.
Graeme
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:28

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:28
Thanks Graeme,

Been a great journey, with, fortunately, more ups than downs. Have thought a bit about writing a lot of it down, as some of its long forgotten.

You take care,
Bob.



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Reply By: Big A - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:16

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:16
Bob,

I spent 5 years in Winton as Stock Inspector in the 80s, so I get a bit misty eyed when someone posts about the Diamantina.

We would know some of the same people and it is possible that I know you or of you.

We went to the Winton Festival last year and next month are going back and on to Boulia, Bedourie and Birdsville.

That was a big lump of a "calf" in the bronco branding photo!

Cheers,
"A".
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:40

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 14:40
"A",

Thanks for the follow-up. If you were in Winton, we may have crossed paths alright. Pretty special place, the Diamantina, with lots of charisma. Thats as long as you forget about the heat, cold, flies, sandflies and dust storms.

Enjoy your trip next month. Country still looks pretty good around here, though some areas have hayed off. recent rain over the past couple of weeks has had mixed results, but might make for a good spring.

Plenty of those big "calves" in that country in those days. In fact, not always that many small ones, so the branding was always hard, but fun work. Used to pull any cleanskin bulls up with toyota first, "deal" with them, then put the bronco mules in to catch the rest.

Bob.

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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 17:04

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 17:04
I was around Winton for most of the '80's as well.
It will forever remain a special place for me, as I have some very fond memories of the district and people.

It is somewhere that one just "has" to go to every now and again.


.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:33

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:33
Stu & "Bob",

Good, friendly town alright. We were going to get a 'van, travel around Qld, and find a "nice" place to live, when we retired. After living in Winton district for over 20 years, decided it might as well be Winton. Haven't regretted it.

Bob

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Reply By: Member - barry F (NSW) - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 18:20

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 18:20
Thanks Bob for that post, it was an enjoyable read & I for one would love to read more of your life's experiences on cattle stations & life in general in the true outback, especially the earlier days you speak of.
I wonder what those stockmen of the 60's would say & think about their counterparts of today using computers & genny's in the stock yard!! I reckon the only common factor shared with both eras would be the jeans & Akruba's!!
Thanks for a great post & cheers.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:20

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:20
Thanks, Barry. Really only wanted to highlight the changes. Looks like I've started something???

You're right about the commonality in dress codes, though these days a lot wear American jeans, like Wranglers and Levis. Some even import their own jeans fron States, and save a bit.

Akubra's seem to hold their own, as they have a large range of styles, but you do see the odd USA made hat. Lot of the young people also buy boots from USA. Used to scoff at some of these kids, with their lace-up riding boots. Can't say anything now, I've got a pair myself!!!

Bob.

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Reply By: Motherhen - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 19:01

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 19:01
That is a great post Bob. I'm sure you have many more stories to tell, so writing it all into a Blog here or as your own Blog would be of great benefit to the younger generation and many others who have not experienced the dust and romance of the outback.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:29

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:29
Glad you enjoyed it, MH.

Been thinking about a blog too, so might have to dig up some old photos and see how we go. Bit concerned about the fine line between story-telling and bragging. Might have to wear my modest hat as I write?

Off down the River early tomorrow, so might see if I can knock something up long-hand during the week.Winton Show next weekend, and have a job BEHIND the bar over the weekend.

Thanks for your encouragement,

Bob

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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:41

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:41
Bob you brag all you like, I'm sure they would be great yarns regardless.
I concur, start a blog on here, would be great to read and see a few old photos.

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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:48

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 21:48
Should of asked in the previous post, What company do you work for Bob?
500K of cattle, big pastoral company, Kidman or other?

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 06:15

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 06:15
John,

Thanks for permission to start bragging LOL.

Was Australian Agricultural Co. Few people would know they are the oldest company in Australia, after the Bank of New South Wales.

They employ over 300 staff, and have about 26 stations.

More later, John. Got to head off, 3 hr drive to go to work for the week,

Bob.

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Reply By: Member - Dirt Princess - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:55

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 20:55
Ahhh the days when the jeans stayed up. When the men were men strong and handsomely rugged and...oh hold on those were the days of my Dad's... eeew...I was only 4 years old. Well, I still like the jeans stayin' up with the belt and the sleeves rolled up too. Mmm..seems the fashion hasn't changed between photos so the jeans dangling down is just an urban thing then. Let's hope that disappears quick and dont return.
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Reply By: Big A - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:44

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 15:44
Bob,

I am not a member on this forum, just a guest, so I can't PM you.

Aah, AA Co. So I am thinking that the terms "Pot Jostler", "Twenty-one" and "Braeside" would be familiar to you, would they not?

Alister. ("A")

Offline now, until lunchtime tomorrow.
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Follow Up By: murranji - Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 16:25

Monday, Jun 04, 2012 at 16:25
Good on you Bob.
I have always been envious of you fellows up in the territory with the big mobs.
I started in 1956 in a small town in Southern Victoria.Still in the stock industry after all those years.
Remember well, letting about 200 pigs [of all kinds]out onto the street to take them to be loaded into sheep vans for their trip to Melbourne.Talk about brilliant dogs !!How would you go today.?
Shunting the rail trucks along with crowbars. Loading cattle and sheep.
Changed a lot in all those years.Some of the icons [name brands now]]in the meat industry used to come and buy in the yards .Example down this way Bob Gilbertson [Don],Smorgan Bros,J H Ralph,Frews,lots of others Teys Etc.Borthwicks and Angliss were big then..
Could go on .Dont want to bore you ..Regards

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:50

Saturday, Jun 09, 2012 at 15:50
Alister,

Twigged it might have been you! someone said you'd been at the Festival last year. Matter of fact, I've been camped at Potjostler the past month or so. pretty flash there now, with cottage extended, aircons, and a bit of a refurbish in the kitchen area.

Don't think we are graced with a stockie these days, they usually come from Longreach.

Enjoy your trip, way the weather's been, it might pay to bring a raincoat!!!

Regards,
Bob.


Murranji,

Good on you, for so long in the industry. Someone had to stay down south, and keep those little states going, eh? Left NSW when I was 17, never regretted it with one exception, and never been back, except for holidays.

Back in the grass fed bullock days, we used to sell to Huttons, Borthwicks, Angliss & others. Buyers would fly out, ride through the mob in the paddock, put a weight on them, agree on a price, and truck the next morning. Must have been a "done deal", 'cause the the trucks would have already left town, before some of the inspections were finished.

Take care,
Regards,
Bob.
Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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