Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Eidsvold: Norway no more

The cattle yards are as big as the town and have handled some of the largest cattle sales in Australian history

Story: Suzy Young
Photos: James McEwen

ImageThe dark red rumps of the cattle glow through the golden clouds of Queensland dust as they blunder around the yards in bewildered mobs, blinking and bellowing.

It's weaning time at Eidsvold Station and the afternoon air is filled with a sad symphony of roars, whines, moans and wails, mixed with the whistling and calling of the cattlemen - "Hey! Hey! Old cows out! Old cows out!" - as if the creatures understand instructions.

"These cattle haven't been handled much," explains station owner, Anthony Coates, calmly above the din, as the uncooperative beasts struggle against the unfamiliar high and frightening fences of the yards.

Eidsvold station has been in Anthony's family from virtually the turn of the century and proudly holds the title of Stud No.2 Santa Gertrudis stud in Australia. At 3500 head on a sprawl of nearly 16,000 ha, the station is at the forefront of the industry and prospering, despite the uncertainty of the times.

But it takes dedication and hard work. Anthony is as lean and fit as his stockmen and they work together like a well-oiled machine, mustering the cattle through today's weaning, weighing and dipping with practiced ease.

ImageStanding calmly among a sea of moving, mooing meat and murderous hooves, the men somehow manage to separate the milling throngs of around 100 beats into old cows and young and usher them efficiently down the right chute to the next step in becoming prize beef and breeders.

The station lies on the banks of the Burnett River, just outside the tiny town of Eidsvold, in central Queensland, where the cattle yards are almost as big as the town and have handled some of the largest cattle sales in Australian history, including an Australian record of 7482 animals in one sale in 1932.

This legendary station was established by the intrepid Archer brothers, who came from Norway in 1848 and were the first white men to set foot in this part of the country. The history of this property in many ways mirrors the experience of large landholdings all over Australia.

Visionary pioneers saw its beauty and braved its dangers to tame it. They tried first sheep and, then, undaunted when this failed, moved on to cattle, and later gold mining, agriculture and forestry, before settling on grazing.

They brought with them the hardiness of their forebears and some of their traditions as well. Story end

Full story: Issue 2, December 1998-January 1999

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