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The determined Dolbys

Mount Pierre is one of numerous Aboriginal owned and operated cattle stations in northern Australia. With a strong commitment to make the station efficient and profitable, manager Louie Dolby and his family are tackling their tasks with relish - and some success.

Story: John Dunn
Photos: Stephen Cockburn-Campbell

Mount Pierre stationA fist-sized piece of limestone rock shatters the silk silence of the outback night as it clatters onto the corrugated iron roof of the stockman's bunkhouse.

In an instant the long, low building is alight and alive as the Dolby boys and their mustering mates spring into action.

Long arms stretch into warm jackets because it is 4 am and there is no cloud blanket over the clear, cold, inland sky.

Soon steaks are sizzling on the outdoor barbeque and before long there is the rhythm of horses' hooves gradually dying into the distance.

Mount Pierre stationThe drovers are off to bring in the Brahmans, Droughtmasters, Angus and Shorthorns. Some have to be yarded for the road train that will take them on the 507km journey to Broome for loading onto the 4000-tonne carrier Anomis, which plies the live cattle trade to Indonesia.

Others must be drafted into herds so that the property's numbers are properly dispersed before the Wet sets in.

And half a dozen need to be culled for killing for meat for the Dolby family and their supporting staff and the 26 Gooniyandi people from Galeru Gorge who live in the adjacent community.

This is Mt Pierre Station - 216,000ha of rocky Kimberley country 109km east of Fitzroy Crossing and fronting, for a seemingly unending 70km, the Great Northern Highway.

Mt Pierre manager, Louie Dolby
Mt Pierre manager, Louie Dolby

Such statistics may look impressive but size doesn't always count and in this case, acreage doesn't necessarily mean affluence.

Mt Pierre is one of some 116 pastoral properties around Australia now owned by Aboriginal people. They have been restored to Aboriginal ownership through a range of State and Commonwealth schemes aimed at returning land to its traditional, owners. It was excised from the neighbouring Go Go station 1989 and handed over to the traditional owners, many of whom live on the station at the Galeru Gorge and Mimbi communities.

It is run for them by Aboriginal managers, Louie Dolby, 42, and his wife Marion, 43, who are attempting to demonstrate that they can manage and develop the property just as effectively as their white Australian predecessors. Story end

Full story: Issue 10, April-May 2000

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