A glimpse into the life of a ‘ridgy didgey’ Aussie stockman…

Check out this short extract from my recent ‘Atherton Tablelands blog’ (coming soon)!

There’s many a yarn in Australian folklore when the country was wild, and men in the outback single-handedly built their lives droving cattle on horseback.

These are the original Australian Bushmen…. and there’s one right here at ‘Ringers Rest’, just 6 kilometres from the township of Mareeba on the Atherton Tableland.

Dave was born in Victoria but grew up in the Daintree in Northern Queensland with his mum, Dad, and 6 sisters where they farmed bananas and pineapples on 60 acres of land allocated by the government to develop the area.

Breaking free from family ties at the tender age of 13 Dave left home for outback Australia settling in the Croyden area.

Visit this campground and you will be treated to campfire yarns and song (and delicious damper) as each Sunday night where, settled around a blazing campfire, Dave loves to share his droving memories of exploring ranges and distant pastures, and scouring the river beds of the real Aussie Outback.

Ask him about his life and he tells of how in those days ‘we were ridgy didge stockmen’.

‘With plant horses, packhorses, ‘green horses’ (horses being broken in) and the bullock team, me and 7 other stockmen would take on all the outback had to dish out!… and on occasion, I would do shorter trips on my own!’

He tells of one trip when he and his mates moved one team of bullocks 400 miles from Croyden to Julia Creek.

The bullocks could only be moved 12 miles a day and with no dogs, no vehicles, no cattle yards or fencing the only way of stopping them from ‘rushing’ of a night was to ride around the mob and sing to them.

… one of Dave’s calming tunes

The sound of the comforting tunes calming them from the other noises that might spook them.

It’s very clear as he tells his stories that he loved this life – it was obvious he loved his droving days and he loved the challenges!

I asked him what brought him back to Mareeba and with a glint in his eye he tells how he met and kissed a little girl on the banks of Freshwater Creek and fell in love – she didn’t like the bush and he didn’t like the city – so they met halfway and the rest is history.

Today, he still works hard maintaining his property – slashing paddocks, moving rocks, looking after his cattle and horses, and providing a welcome stop for many travellers – but I think what struck me most about this gentleman is his wicked sense of humour and his friendly, relaxed nature. He greets and farewells all the campers with a tip of his old worn Akubra hat and a strong handshake!

If you’re passing through this way make sure you pop in and say hello.

Better still, stay a while – there’s plenty of room to spread out and relax.

Grab your boots and wander to the nearby creek, feed the farm animals, enjoy the occasional excitement of the Hot Air Balloons taking off or landing, use it as a base to explore the Atherton Tablelands… and just soak up a good old serve of country hospitality!

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