John Watson recalls his mum starting work on Mt Anderson station at three in the morning. She would set the bread and put it away in the oven, was skilled at fixing fences and mustering sheep. The women mustered the sheep on foot, with dogs, as the station only had a couple of horses.
They worked if they were sick, worked if they were starving, worked without days off. From Bohemia Downs to Billiluna, Mt Anderson to Mt Pierre, Aboriginal people, our old people, were the backbone of the pastoral industry in the Kimberley.
Since John’s mum was a young woman, a lot has changed, with many of the pastoral leases in the Kimberley now owned by Aboriginal people. However, in recent years, it’s also become apparent that some stations are underperforming.
With the June 2015 deadline looming in relation to Aboriginal pastoral leases, KRED has been approached by a number of pastoral workers and stations concerned about their ability to reinvigorate their pastoral leases. In response, KRED has developed a vision to revive the pastoral industry in the North West.
KRED proposes a group of pastoral stations stand together as a pastoral consortium. By joining forces in a commercial consortium, by sticking together and looking out for each other like our old people did in the station days, we will provide genuine employment and training opportunities for local communities and Aboriginal people. We will develop a year-round supply chain and implement world class breeding, herd management and feed crop technology.
We envisage a future where our people are the backbone of the Kimberley pastoral industry once again–where local communities and Aboriginal people can access employment and training opportunities ranging from stationhands and cooks, to subcontractors and managers. We envisage a future where our stations supply the highest quality beef to domestic and international markets and where we implement innovative and environmentally sustainable land management practices to maximise productivity and to protect the health of country.