When you’ve got 28,000-hectares and 1,400 Brahman cross cattle to muster, you’ve certainly got an adventure on your hands. Mt Mulligan Lodge is tucked into a working cattle station and it’s time to learn the lingo and logistics of a cattle muster before your stay.
And not just the cattle! Station/Land Manager Phil Harris was born in the area, and the same goes for his right hand man, Cameron Hocking. Just call them cattle whisperers – Phil and Cameron undertake the cattle muster at a minimum three times a year. Horses, dogs, quad bikes and even a helicopter are their tools as they and five contractors muster cattle in from all corners of the property.
There’s more to a cattle muster than meets the eye. The crew use this time to draft the cattle to stay and sell; they’ll brand, vaccinate and ear tag youngsters, and also de-sex young bulls (known as mickys) to start sourcing more steers (young castrated bulls). Weaning the calves occurs too so cows (females who have had a calf) can get pregnant again.
Have you heard of a steer muster? This is a muster just for young castrated males, who are moved to larger pastures to put on some pounds. They won’t head to auction in Mareeba until they are two years old or weigh in at 300kg.
The cattle muster plays a vital role in the life cycle at Mount Mulligan Station. At any given time, there are 1,400 breeding cattle on site. They’ll spend 11 years as full-time residents on the station, but the 10 main fenced paddocks can swell up to a 3,000 capacity. Motherhood is taken seriously by the breeding cattle, who aren’t afraid to put their bubs first and get protective! There are still heifers on site too – females who haven’t had cows – plus a few rogue scrubbers and cleanskins aka wild bulls.
Braham through and through.
Braham cattle are good mums, which is why Mount Mulligan Station’s cattle are 100% Braham. Not only do they look after their little ones, they are curious and gentle, and even better, they have a taste for jazz and brass instruments (true!). Did you know, a weaner is a calf that has been drafted off their mum to grow big and strong.
With the majestic Ngarrabullgan (Mount Mulligan) in the distance, 24 dams to choose from, plenty of salt licks, a break from the heat during wet season, plus dry season supplement food, these cattle are spoilt rotten.
Now you’ve got the lingo, all that’s left is to get out there and see first-hand how it’s done.