As far as jobs go, they don’t get much more quintessentially Australian than being a drover. But it’s hard yakka.
It’s not easy to move cattle - and that’s where drovers come in.
As livestock owners struggle through the challenging conditions thrown up by the ongoing drought in NSW and Queensland, cattle herds are often required to move around, sometimes over long distances, to a new paddock that can provide better prospects for feed.
And those transporting the animals - cows, horse and sheep - on horseback are warning motorists to slow down when encountering migrating herds.
A Facebook post has described the difficulty and dangers faced by drovers when impatient truck and car drivers speed past.
‘These words forever embedded in my brain’
There are some “absolute gems” in this world and there are other people who “think their time is worth more than human and animal life,” wrote Sammie Rayner after spending two days in mid-September helping transport a large herd of cattle with NSW-based company Glenbri Rural Contracting.
“We... copped more verbal abuse than you would ever expect from truckies, cars, utes, etc. Because we were asking them to slow down as to prevent them from having a rather large hood ornament which you could guarantee would cost a pretty penny to fix let alone the cost of a beast,” she said.
According to the post, one female drover was clipped by a passing truck driver: “If she hadn’t moved it would have been a rather horrific outcome”.
“These words just before he clipped her will forever be embedded in my brain,” she wrote.
“Get the c***s off the road and put them in a paddock, I’ve got somewhere to be,” he reportedly yelled.
In a seperate post, Glenbri Rural Contracting recounted the incident: “This morning one of our girls was hit by a truck that would not slow down enough through our mob of cattle on the road!
“She and her horse are ok, a little shaken but ok. But if she had not moved when she did her and her horse would have been cleaned up.”
“We have had some hard traffic to deal with on previous jobs but these last few days has been beyond ridiculous.”
Glenbri Rural Contracting went on to thank “all wonderful motorists that have helped out and slowed down for the cattle, our girls, horses and our dogs”.
“We cannot tell you how much we appreciate it,” they said.
Ms Rayner’s post from September 17 was originally private, but she made it public at the behest of a friend who wanted to share it.
The story has since gone viral, being shared more than 5500 times with many applauding the efforts of drovers.
“You're doing a great job girls. It's an Australian tradition droving cattle – it's un-Australian tradition to abuse your fellow mate. Keep up the good work,” one of the more than 110 commenters said.
Your obligations when encountering livestock on the road
While it varies from state to state, you might be surprised at your obligations when encountering livestock on the roads.
In Queensland, where farmers are increasingly reliant on roadside grazing to help get through the difficult drought conditions, cattle have the right of way on roads.
Thanks to an old Queensland law, you must give way to cattle and if you hit them – that’s on you, according to Mark Vayro, a risk specialist with farm insurer Achmea.
“Any damage caused to the motorist's vehicle or injury to driver and/or passengers from the contact of cattle cannot pass liability/guilt onto the cattle owner,” he told Queensland Country Life in May this year. The law means cattle owners can’t be sued for damages.
In NSW, drivers are also obliged to give way and slow down when encountering livestock. Drivers who fail to give way to animals travelling along public roads and travelling stock routes may face fines of more than $2200.
In turn, drovers and farmers are required to put up signage and often use flags to alert motorists of the upcoming herd hazard.
“If you didn't know - if you come across ‘cattle on the road’ or ‘droving’ signs with flags etc. They have permits to be where they are,” Ms Rayner explained in her post.
“By law you are supposed to slow down to 60km between those signs and slow down even more if asked to by the droving team.”
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