Spectrum 595. Farming the floodplain

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Tono kōrero mai

Jack Perkins visits the Grow family who work 647 square kms of land, north-east of Darwin on Woolner station (the first of ten programmes from Australia's Top End).

The eldest daughter, Paula Grow introduces Perkins to the Mary River flood plain where the family run cattle and buffalo and provide safari tours. Paula, one of three siblings, explains her multiple roles and enthuses about station life with its tourism, buffalo catching, cattle yarding, rodeos and horse racing.

She talks about the bird life, the nature of buffalos, her sadness at the decline in population and maintenance of fence pipes and posts (from charging wild buffalo). She says Perkins will have the opportunity to fly over Lake Finniss by helicopter later and view the buffalo, crocs and cattle from the air.

Paula introduces Perkins to her younger brother, Stephen who as head stockman runs the camp for eight months of the year. Stephen shares his plans to hit the rodeo road for four months of the wet season when he will saddle bulls and ride bare back in Victoria and Queensland. He describes how he and his crew catch buffalo from a Toyota truck with a bionic steel arm.

Perkins meets their mother, Mary who describes how, as a family they have worked very hard to transform what was one paddock of uncontrolled feral animal harvest into a BTEC compliant station with ten large paddocks and a new homestead. Although born in Melbourne, Mary says she always wanted to live on a station and still surprises herself by her durability.

She explains they work solidly for 8 months of the year during the dry season - there is no glamour, just daily drudgery. October and November almost become unbearable with humidity and no rain but once the wet season descends the landscape transforms; everything grows green and the water holes fill up. Mary talks about a few annual incidents between the deadly pythons and king brown snakes and their station dogs.

Perkins ends the programme with his helicopter ride which takes him across the top end flood plains. The pilot describes the movements of the buffalo, observes hundreds of thousands of magpie geese and the crocodiles surviving in mud pools. He explains the safari tours help support the use of the helicopter for mustering buffalo and also notes the massive decline in their population.

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Year 1988

Reference number 1532

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Producer
Grow, Paula, Interviewee
Grow, Mary, Interviewee
Grow, Stephen, Interviewee

Duration 00:27:21

Date 02 Jan 1988

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