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Ann Britton Outback Photography

Lucknow Muster “view from my office window”

I would like to dedicate this blog to my good friend Jeanette Maguire. A while back she told me the office, in a city, she worked in that day had no windows. It was like hitting the pause button on me, my mind was trying to comprehend such a thing and not coping, all that well, with the thought.

Come with me on a pictorial blog of a day of mustering at “Lucknow” a beef producing property in the Boulia Shire. Lucknow house is 120km from Goodwood house.
Today our mustering crew included Boss Man AKA hubby, Rick, Claire (daughter) Tojo, Kimberly, (our three full time workers) Anthony, Eric and Stoney (chopper pilot)
All of the mustering photos are taken from my car “Millie”
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I met up with Rick and Kimberly at “The Hut.” While waiting there I witnessed a flash of green and noise of chirping, these little birds always make me smile.

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I said to Rick and Kimberly when I pulled up, where they were waiting for me, while they were watching and listening to Stoney muster the cattle through the channels “there’s a noise under the car, like something knocking together, it’s on the passenger side” They looked under the car and found this, bugger Millie busted a shockie.
I thought the mustering chopper looked like an annoying fly, to the windmill, while Stoney was pushing cattle out of the gidgee channels towards “The Hut.”
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Those last eight photos, of Stoney flying in amongst the channels, were taken over a six second time span, to give you an idea of the speed and height, professional aerial mustering pilots work at. Stoney can make his chopper hover in one spot, go backwards, near turn the chopper inside out, it would seem. A good mustering pilot’s skill is treasured, cattle are efficiently handled, carefully and with best practise of animal welfare in mind plus it means less work for the crew on the ground, reducing risk of injury.
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I “feed and watered” (sandwich, biscuit, cup of tea) Rick and Kimberly, helped them across the channels, as did Stoney, with their mob of cattle and then I traveled across paddocks to meet up with the rest of the crew. This gate was a father/son project using bits and pieces before our son went off to boarding school, many years ago. Can you guess what the gate is made up of?
Great to see this body of feed.
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Cattle being pushed out of the channels by the chopper onto the flat, where two of the crew are holding other cattle.
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Claire and Tojo hold one mob, while another mob (in background) are being moved up by Anthony and Eric, to join them.
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More cattle being coaxed out of the channels by the “eye in sky.”
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The two mobs come together on the claypan flat.
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Bet there is not too many of you that have come into lunch in style like this? Considering lunch was from back of Millie on a claypan flat in the middle of the channel country in Outback Queensland.
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Holding cattle on dinner camp.
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Thumbs up, jobs done, Stoney is on his way.
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See you next time Stoney, thanks heaps for your great work.
Stoney has gathered together all the cattle that we required to be mustered today. Rick and Kimberly have one mob, the rest of us have the other. It is up to us now to walk them onto the yards.
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Can’t get enough photos of cattle in good nick, amongst good dry feed.
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Moving cattle on, off dinner camp. All the crew can communicate with each other via UHF (handheld) radios, which Stoney has in his chopper as well and I have in Millie (like all our vehicles)
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On the tail of the cattle through the first channel, off the claypan.
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This is way you need an “eye in the sky” the thickness of gidgee filled channels makes visibility of cattle very hard, so achieving a clean muster without a chopper is near impossible. Before aerial mustering cattle became very cunning at hiding in amongst these trees.
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Both mobs of cattle joined together at “Claire’s Dam” where cattle and humans rested again. This buy diclofenac 25mg photo showing the cattle being moved off the dam in direction of the cattle yard, a few kilometres away, at the Lucknow house.
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906 cattle in this mob, being guided through a gate after being moved off Claire’s dam.
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Somewhere in amongst that gidgee are those 906 head of cattle moving towards me.
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While I was waiting at the house for the crew to bring the mob up, ready to yard, I snapped these zebra finches in the midday heat.
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The tail of the mob enter the yard.
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Anthony and Tojo securing the gate after all the cattle have been yarded.
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Boss Man looking over the cattle to work out a plan to make sure they can all get a drink.
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Claire and Tojo guiding the cattle into the main big pen of the yard, no yelling, just talking to them calmly and the positioning of people to show the cattle the way. (yes dusty, Claire had spent a few hours watering the yard but obviously didn’t get to this pen)
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Kimberly and Anthony being part of the human chain guiding the cattle through the gate.
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The cattle are successfully all put together, another gate needing to be shut. By putting the cattle in this yard, they all have access to water and were left there for a time so as they can all get a drink if they so chose to do. Later they were penned up into smaller yards ready to be drafted, daylight next morning.
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Tool box meeting.
All the crew have backpacks which contain water & other personal bits and pieces. There is always a vehicle with the crew which contains water so they can fill up their back packs, as well as first aid kits. We also have Satellite phones. The range of mobile phones outside Boulia is about 15kms, on a good day.
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Daughter and father making a drafting plan, how they will sort the cattle and what will happen to each mob once sorted.
(My admiration and respect for these two in this business/industry is enormous. I think they are great assets in their own right. Both have contributed enormously in different ways and I’m thankful they will continue to do so in the future.)
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It is terrific, rewarding and such a pleasure, to have a bunch of young people working for you, that “nothing is ever a problem.” So that Millie didn’t do any more damage (broken shockie was rubbing on tyre) Tojo and his “TA” Anthony, removed the broken shockie before crew went back down to the yard to pen up cattle.
I headed home (120km away) in tray back so I could do chores and get dinner ready, Claire headed home to Braeside (40km away) so she could check on some cattle before dark, while others penned up. Crew all came back to Goodwood in Millie once yard work was done.
That was our day mustering.
I know I am blessed to love where I live, to love our business, as Rick does too.  To now have our daughter home and part of it. To have two young people employed that have the will to work and learn in our industry,  just adds so many positives to our life/business/industry. To have other young people in our area, willing to work as “day workers” that have a love of the industry as well.
The thought of not being able to see outside “an office without windows” makes me realise how much more I should appreciate that I get to be part of “a land that completes me” nearly every day. Bonus for me is my love of photography, I feel with every capture I record is a moment in history.
An extra bonus is that I get to share my life via my photos with you, thanks so much for your interest. 🙂

Footnote: “Lucknow” was purchased when our son Thomas, was 2 years old and Claire was two months old. We lived, as a family, in Boulia before that. We moved to Goodwood when the kids were 8 and 6, so they both have many wonderful childhood memories from Lucknow. We had sheep back then as well.







  1. Anne@Grit and Giggles 

    Love this series of photos … love the story. You are so lucky to have family come home and work in the family business. I love the stretch of cattle along the horizon and that chopper has some moves.

  2. annbritton 

    Thanks so much Anne for dropping by and commenting. Really pleased you enjoyed this story and photos. Yes we are truly happy to have our daughter home again. I love that you love what you see in the photos.

  3. BB 

    BRILLIANT… loved this post. What an amazing part of the world you live in Ann… those photos of 1000 head moving across the flats is incredible!

  4. Roger M 

    Absolutely awesome Ann, fanstastic seeing all your photos on how a muster is done. Great country, fat cattle, good team work, awesome flying and great photography.

  5. annbritton 

    Pretty good combination hey Roger? Look at the trouble we go to just to make sure you are kept entertained, thanks for continuous support, and I hope that you noticed all those trees. I was thinking of you when I took them 🙂

  6. annbritton 

    It was really only 906 head BB 🙂 LOL Thanks so much for thinking so much of this post, it does mean a lot to me.

  7. Melinda R. Walsh 

    That chopper looks like fun. Though there is no doubt in my mind that I would be scared pooless

  8. annbritton 

    Oh no Melinda it is just terrific and exciting fun, with an amazing view. I don’t do “flying” very well, my body just doesn’t seem to enjoy it that much, but doorless choppers are a great enjoyment.

  9. Forence 

    Thankyou Ann. It certainly is an eye opener to us
    all. Lovely photos.

  10. annbritton 

    Thank you Forence for dropping by and leaving a comment, I appreciate your kind words very much.

  11. Chris Ferguson 

    HI Ann, I love your photos, thanks for sharing. I’m trying to improve my photography of everyday life on the station and your photos are an inspiration. I get a bit fed up of the over saturated prettied up photos I see but mine always seem a bit flat. Could you give us a few tech tips for shooting under unforgiving outback light? Even some settings on some of your photos would be really appreciated. Keep up the wonderful photography, I especially loved the one of your daughter and husband making a plan, ripper!

  12. annbritton 

    G’day Chris, I’ve always loved the challenge of giving those that view my photos the vision that I see through my lens, the only thing I really do with photoshop is resize, little cropping and maybe rarely tone/shadow & I love the action/batch feature of multi watermarking.
    So the “unforgiving outback light” I find very rewarding when I feel I have captured it just as it is.
    I agree totally and love your description, it made me smile, re over photoshopped photos.
    So use that light to your advantage, move if you can so that shadow isn’t an issue. Don’t you love how sometimes the sky is that light that you can hardly describe it as blue and yet other times it is a vivid blue, then add some cloud and there is all types of blue?
    I can add the #photonerd stuff no worries at all, most of these photos were taken from 140-400mm, around f13 for a large % of them, but all on ISO 800. I have tried ISO 200 but I prefer a larger ISO in full light.
    I’m happy to talk photography, Outback and station life for as long as you are happy to listen, ha ha
    Thanks for your kind words, keep snapping and enjoying photography, as long as you are happy with your captures that is truly all that matters

  13. Andrea H 

    Wonderful photographic story Ann. Loved every bit of it. Brought back some great memories or mustering at Springvale, Diamantina Lakes and Davenport. Thanks so much!

  14. annbritton 

    Thanks Andrea, Love the connections that I make on SM via my photography and Outback passions. Yes mustered Springvale and Dianmantina Lakes too :-). So pleased this blog brought back great memories for you, makes the pleasure of doing it even more pleasurable.

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