I have no recent experience of visiting remote area grazing leases,
but offer two stories from the past which may help put into perspective the
sometimes unco-operative attitude of lessees. Three stories actually, but
the last one may be apocryphal.
1. Mid-'60s, and I was investigating national park proposals on Cape York
Peninsula. (We had a Lands Department officer with us, so access to
leasehold wasn't in question.) Staying at the Coen pub overnight, I got
yarning to the Publican's wife who confirmed the story I had heard
concerning her husband when he had been a lessee some years earlier.
Riding the boundary of his lease, he came on some temporary yards, with some
of his stock being branded by his neighbour. Angry words, then shots were
exchanged. Both finished up in Cairns hospital in adjoining beds. Neither
would lay charges, and the police were unable to prosecute.
2. We called at one homestead and were able to buy some fresh beef. My
Lands Department companion mentioned another occasion when he (or another
Lands officer - I've forgotten which, now) asked to buy some steak at a
homestead. The Manager says, no, they had no fresh meat. The officer turns
away, then apparently as an afterthought, turns back and says, "Could you
sell me 10 pounds of coarse salt?" The Manager suddenly recalls that there
is some fresh meat he can let him have, after all.
3. This might just be a good story, but it has a ring of truth about it.
Also up in north Queensland but this time over towards the Gulf. A major
celebration of some sort at one of the station homesteads, and everyone's
invited. A guest is talking to the host, and one of the host's immediate
neighbours walks by. The visitor remarks that the neighbour has boasted
that he has never eaten his own beef. The host smiles: "He'll be eating it
Maybe the rest of Australia is more civilised; maybe far north Queensland
is, forty years on. But I reckon if I were a grazier on a remote lease,
and I happened on one of my cattle with a bullet through its' brain and just
some prime cuts of beef removed, from then on I wouldn't be granting access
to anyone I didn't know personally unless they came with a recommendation
from someone I trusted.
And if I were a visitor from far away, I don't think I'd care to defy a
landholder in a remote area, even if legally I am entitled to enter his
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