In Australia, the land belonging to a cattle station can be the size of a French department or a country like Switzerland. Mustering of cattle in pastures takes place over three weeks all year round, apart when there is flooding. With 27 millions head of cattle, Australia is the world’s largest exporter of meat and wool.
In the south of the Northern Territory, in a semi-arid to arid region, Don and Colleen Costello are the owners of three stations spread over a property of 20.000 hectares, the equivalent of 220 square kilometers. Their herd is composed of the following breeds, - Harford, Hangus and Drought Master, – a total of 22.000 head of cattle.
The Costellos and their team, carry out the mustering in the riverbed of the Finke River, completely dry at that time of year. Rounding up the herd itself takes a day and mobilizes around fifteen people, one to two helicopters, twelve motorbikes and two 4WDs. On this occasion, and against all expectations, Don’s team rounded up 2.500 cattle, almost twice the amount they had been hoping for. Once the animals are penned, they are treated – vaccinated, tattooed, their horns trimmed – and then loaded for the abattoir or directed towards another pasture.
Acting as an alarm clock, the generator has woken the team up and now all are busy preparing for the day ahead. Shaun is the first to rise. The bacon sizzles on a hotplate placed over the campfire. Lost in their own thoughts, everyone grabs a rasher of bacon or two, and gulps them down sandwiched between two slices of white bread. A very long day awaits and as the sun breaks through the horizon one can already
feel the heat rising.