WA outback adventure passes muster

STEPHEN SCOURFIELD on a working station where visitors are welcome

A couple of hundred head of cattle stand in a salt pan, a gaggle of four-wheel-drives surrounding them. Once the mustered mob is complete, nearly 300 cattle will walk calmly into yards which were built by the muster crew just after dawn. It has been a textbook day for the musterers of Carnegie Station, on the Gunbarrel Highway 340km east of Wiluna, under manager Brendan Carew.

There are voices in the cold desert dark before a 5.15am breakfast cooked by Brendan’s parents, Christine and Jim Carew. Names of the 15-strong mustering crew are on the whiteboard next to bikes and bull buggies — Ash in “Av Gas”, Jarjah in “Big Bird”.

The raggle-taggle fleet fires up the dark, mostly Toyota HJ75s and Jeep Wrangler bull buggies, echoing the history of the early Willys Jeeps on this 400,000sqha station (a million acres, in the old money).

They drive out to the muster point, and fence panels are slid off a trailer and carried on backs to make the temporary yards. Between 400 and 800sqkm will be mustered each day, a helicopter finding and moving cattle. The chopper works with the motorbike musterers, who ride on sand and rock and through the scrub, driving stock out of more difficult country. Bull buggies are the muscle to keep them moving towards the mob.

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