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Graziers seek out greener pastures for cattle herds along Queensland's stock routes

Cassandra Hough, Thursday July 5, 2018 - 09:54 EST
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Drover Terry Hall after a long day in the saddle. - ABC

After a long dusty day walking cattle along the stock route, Terry Hall pulls up a chair near the fire to watch the vibrant pinks, yellows and oranges of a Southern Queensland sunset.

The Goondiwindi drover has been on the road for three months in an effort to keep his cattle alive.

Mr Hall has been droving about 1,000 head of weaner steers with more on the way.

"The feed's pretty good just around here but water's starting to fail us a bit, that's our biggest drama — water," Mr Hall said.

With the drought in New South Wales worsening, thousands of cattle are walking over the border in search of greener pastures.

"There's plenty coming over but we're in front of all of those, we all should get a feed, water's going to be our biggest trouble, at this stage we'll be right for at least six weeks," he said.

"We never thought there'd be too many NSW cattle come over because a lot of those drovers from over there don't like the scrub, a lot of scrub up here, a lot of good feed, the cattle do well on the trees but it's worse down in NSW they had to do something so they've decided to come up here."

"We haven't run into any of them just yet but they will be about."

There are 6,000 head of cattle on Maranoa Regional Council stock routes, with another 6,000 head in applications.

In Balonne Shire Council, there's been about 1,600 head of cattle through the shire already with another 1,300 to come.

The Council has also received another five applications.

Surat contract musterer, Nick Hancock, turned his hand to droving and has been moving about 1,500 head of cattle from Nindigully to Injune, in southern Queensland.

"These cattle are from down near Moree and they got trucked to just outside Nindigully and we've taken them from there because there was no feed to walk them to there."

"I spoke to another drover and he's got five people from down there looking for mobs to come up here."

"We were just lucky that we got the rain back there in February so we've got a bit of a body of feed in Queensland that New South Wales missed out on."

Mr Hancock's grandparents have made it a family affair by helping run the camp.

A prime mover has been towing two twenty foot containers, the first containing the living area with five beds in it and a full-size shower, toilet and a kitchen with a fridge.

The second container has all the dry goods, extra fridges and freezers, and all the tools and saddlery. Dog cages are underneath.

Mr Hancock's grandmother, Carol, has been responsible for keeping the camp in order.

"I rise at six, and I get the boys their breakfast quickly so they can get the herd out and then I might be able to do a bit of washing, perhaps," she said.

Then I go with the boys to do a bit of temporary fencing to help get them through to the next stop and then back for lunch and then medication for one lad and prepare tea."

Mrs Hancock said she enjoying spending time on the road with her grandson but had never ridden a horse.

"I have had six sons, all horse crazy but I have never ridden a horse. I'm either on the quad or in the ute and that's good enough for me."


© ABC 2018

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