With 7000 sheep to round up and get to the holding paddock at the shearing shed, each day’s work is carefully planned.
It’s a sequence that depends on the weather and experience. This day there was a thunderstorm and heavy clouds in the area but not much chance of rain.
Despite the terrain and the heat the well being of the sheep is a priority. Those too young or too old to make the journey end up riding in the back of a ute.
Jack’s Camp is on the picturesque eastern side of the property and the five hundred or so sheep in the holding yards will be moved a few kilometres to another paddock closer to the shearing shed. And from there to another, until they reach their destination about 35 kilometres away.
I knew the sheep would be heading down this creek with the early morning light flooding through the river gums. I thought it might make a good photograph. I wasn’t disappointed. The scene could have been right out of a Tom Roberts painting.
Because of the cloud, the temperature was a little down, but even so it was still around 40 degrees and the sheep tended to move at their own pace with a little encouragement from the stockmen for the stragglers lagging behind.
This day it is a family affair. Cousins Lindsay Mengersen from Wooltana Station, Troy Fels from Motpena and son-in-law Luke Ridsdale from Leigh Creek are on the drive with Geoff. The four are mostly spread out over a wide area communicating by UHF radios.
There’s 11 main paddocks on Depot Springs and eight sets of drafting yards, several of which are using during the muster.
Nevertheless, anybody unfamiliar with this rocky country would think that bringing thousands of sheep to shearing would be an impossibility, especially with just five men and their motorbikes.
Yet it has been done this way every year for decades either with bikes or horses.