After taking the photos for an R M Williams Outback magazine story on Anna Creek cattle station last year, I wondered how the smaller properties managed to exist.
I decided to add to my pictures of the cattle industry by looking at smaller operations
The smaller stations don’t have the resources of empires like the Kidman Company who run Anna Creek.
But while they still cover what most of us would consider vast areas of land, they are often family affairs, operated by just one or two persons.
There’s little difference between sheep and cattle in this regard, particularly in Outback areas.
It is nice to have neighbors who fall into this category so I was able to shoot part of the story when one of them was about to transport over 150 animals to better southern pastures….not unlike the the strategies of the bigger cattle empires up north.
The “Crush” is the contraption that confines the animal while tagging, recording, disease prevention and breeding issues are dealt with. This can usually be done by just one person with a little help from an assistant.
An early start is the norm. It is hot dusty work and these are powerful animals. Having lived on the free range for some time, they are not predisposed to the confines of the yards.
The work ticks along at a steady pace. One after the other the beasts go through the process. This work is necessary for the well being of the animals as well as making sure its details and ownership are recorded.
The process usually doesn’t take long and when released, the animal is herded off into separate yards depending on their age, sex and destination.
These days, station workers are hard to find. The mining and exploration operations around the Outback are gobbling up just about every available hand so designs of yards, ramps and the Crush become critical to yard work.
The day after all processing of the cattle is finished, the trucks roll in to transport the cattle to the new locations – a journey than can take many hours.
One of the things I have learned after working in extremely dusty conditions like this is that cameras will be covered in dust despite every effort to protect them.
It is necessary to keep the lens clean and this has to be done as often as possible. I use a Lens Pen brush for this – never a cloth, just to keep the dust from the glass.
At home after the shoot, before I remove any lens I use a brush and a hand-held bellows to blow clean the outside of the camera. These both get into any of the little crevices around the outside of the camera under dials and around the base of the lens. There’s a temptation to use a damp cloth or similar. Avoid this.
Once the lens is removed from the camera, the camera cap should be used to keep particles from getting inside. Following the instruction in the camera and lens manuals is the best plan….not necessarily followed by everyone.