Australia: Farming in the Kimberley

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12 July 2022, Australia: Situated on the edge of one the world’s largest wilderness frontiers, the mighty Kimberley, Meda Station has a rich history in Australian agriculture. Occupying over 380,000 hectares and managing 25,000 head of Brahman cattle, the station is a part of Jumbuck Pastoral, Australia’s largest family-owned pastoral company.

Managed by Troy Haslet, his wife Monica and with their young children Marlee and Wade keen to help wherever they can, Meda has a staff of up to 20 during peak season when mustering takes priority. Only a few of those staff stay on year-round during the wet which is the time for maintenance and repairs.

The station is set amongst mountain ranges and stunning gorges east of Derby along the famous Gibb River Road. With a customary 650mm of rain falling between November to April each year the remainder of the year consists of blue skies and temperatures around 30 degrees. The May River runs through the property and is a great place for staff to fish as well as being a popular holiday spot for campers.

With such a large and varied landscape, each muster is managed by helicopters and assisted by the staff on horseback.

When mustering, each staff member has up to four horses assigned to them to ensure the horses are fresh and not overworked. When the cattle are brought back to the mustering yards they are sorted and loaded onto road trains for sale to local meatworks or for export. Such a big operation requires a skilled team and water-tight teamwork.

Elders Livestock Manager for the Kimberley Kelvin Hancey says working with Troy and the team at Meda has been very rewarding. Kelvin has been with Elders for 42 years and has been working in the Kimberley for the past 16 years. With Elders Derby branch servicing arguably the largest area for any branch in the Elders branch network, Kelvin’s interaction with Troy and his team is weekly during the dry season.

Working through logistics for drafting, coordinating road trains, planning upcoming sales and general merchandise requirements, it’s a relationship that Kelvin thoroughly enjoys.

“When you work with quality people, who are known in the industry for producing quality product it makes your job that much more enjoyable,” said Kelvin.

“I enjoy my job and its never lost on me about how lucky we are to live and work in such a beautiful part of Australia”.

When there’s mustering on and the cattle come into the yards for transport it’s all hands on deck with Kelvin and fellow Elders Kimberley livestock team-members Carly Longmuir, Territory Sales Manager and Meredith Turner, Livestock Trainee, all lending a hand to ensure that the Elders team see the job through from start to finish.

There is a magical change in the horizon when the cattle move around the yards causing the dust, as fine as talcum powder, to rise and create a mist like effect covering the landscape.

The Kimberley is a beautiful yet rugged landscape. The terrain is unforgiving yet mystical and it is not the easiest place to produce cattle – but if you ask Troy and his staff, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Farming in the Kimberley is tough but the team at Meda do it very well.

Also Read: Summer crops growing well with scientific field management

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