Coolullah Station, Gulf Country, QLD

Coming to Coolullah, a surprise awaits, and driving through the relatively bare landscape the station complex comes into view, grassed, and shaded by trees including stately and magnificent river gums. Like many cattle stations, the homestead and station buildings are built adjacent to a water way. When we visit during the dry season, it’s difficult to believe the accounts of flood water lapping around and through station buildings, and the 2006 story of the tinnie tied to the kitchen gate.

The drop from the river bank to the water is a big one, and we can only imagine the body of water rushing by during a flood! Coolullah is a NAPCO cattle station, situated about 120 kms north of Cloncurry, in the Gulf region of Queensland.

Darcy Sutton is the manager, and given a choice of anywhere else to work, he’d choose Coolullah every time. Darcy grew up around Katherine, and during his youth spent time at Victoria River Downs. The water and hills around Victoria River Downs were a great attraction to the young Darcy, and his appreciation for Coolullah country is just as strong.

We met Darcy in 1995 at Soudan Station NT, outstation of Alexandria Station, where he was overseer. Darcy sees himself as a bit of a black sheep, and when he was younger he was never interested in being anything but a ringer. He didn’t want the responsibility of head stockman, but a lifetime of experience with stock, and a natural ability to handle both stock and people, led to his taking on leadership roles.

Darcy had never seen Coolullah, and during his time at Soudan Station had heard from Robin Prince, a fencing contractor at Alexandria, that “horses will never die in that country” His interest was aroused, and when Ross Peatling, the manager of Alexandria, asked him “Where do you see yourself going with NAPCO?” Darcy replied “Two long service leaves and managing Coolullah!”

Consequently, while he believed he was “still young enough to want to sit on a horse”, and when the opportunity came, Darcy took up the challenge and moved from Roxborough Downs where he was manager, to Coolullah. He maintains he’s “still waiting for the first long service leave!”

Darcy is one of those people who can recall seemingly meaningless events, and turn them into an interesting and entertaining story (usually very funny!) Apart from the friendship he’s extended to us since meeting him, we appreciate conversations with Darcy, who invariably puts an encouraging and positive spin to his yarns, reflective of his attitude to life.

His pride and love for Coolullah is evident when he talks about the place. He sees Coolullah as a station with a variety of country – valleys, hill country and black soil. Of the hill country he says “If people can’t see the beauty in that hill country, there’s something wrong with them.”

Darcy has been a loyal and regular customer of Kent Saddlery and states that “in 14 years of having Kent Saddles, I’ve never had a horse with a sore back.”

As the time for our yearly stop-over comes around, Darcy reports that he tells the workers “I’ve had Lyle Kent on the phone” and “those kids start looking down the road every day”.

Darcy says that he appreciates Kent Saddlery’s consistency and reliability, and we can say the same about the support and friendship he’s given us over the years. Thanks Darcy, we appreciate you!