LAST Wednesday was possibly the last cattle drive of about 200 head from Monte Christo Station on Curtis Island across the Narrows to the mainland.

The end of this cattle drive will likely be due to the economics of running such a large property.

I had been told about this event at lunchtime by local filmmaking identity and fishing guide Johnny Mitchell, as he was heading up there to film it.

With low tide happening at 2.30pm that day, we needed to be in position to record it well before that. Now Johnny wears nothing on his feet, and hasn't done, from what I am aware, since his wedding a year or so ago.

Walking over oyster beds, sharp rocks, broken shells and estuary mud in bare feet isn't my cup of tea, far less carrying a large camera case, and heavy duty tripod. I left my joggers on.

By the time we reached the crossing point, the cattle had been in the yards for some time, and it was obvious that George (station manager) would need a lot of help to get these beasts across the creek, and six or seven other horsemen turned up with their stock whips, plastic pipe, dogs and loud voices.

The plan was to drive them across in small groups, following a lead horse, to a holding area on the mainland side of the creek.

There the oncoming groups of cattle would see the others on the bank and the crossings should be a piece of cake.

In the past Johnny had seen this take only 20 minutes, but not on this day.

These ones did not want to get their feet wet nor follow any sort of instruction.

Sounds of dogs barking, stock whips cracking and the bellows from the stockmen, such as "get across" or "get out of there ya' mongrel" or "y'yah, yahh", filled the whole area.

An hour and a half later, the whole mob was on the mainland side of the creek, after many groups had broken away, but eventually were brought back to join the herd.

Many of us boaties have driven through the Narrows plenty of times, and pointed out to folk that this is where they drive cattle across the creek, but not many have watched it.

I felt privileged to watch this spectacle after being here for the past 30 years but never having witnessed it. Many thanks to Johnny for inviting me.



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