2009, People, Stories and Articles

Shannon Mullaly – Head Stockman, Coolullah Station Nth Qld

“I’m going to the bush!”

Shannon Mullaly could hardly wait to finish Grade 10 and go for a job. He’d grown up around Gayndah, Queensland. As a kid, Shannon worked for neighbours on farms in the area, and had a pony, which didn’t interest him as much as motorbikes. A real turning point came when he spent time at Charleville with his grandfather, a contract musterer. Shannon and his brother had fun, riding on 4 wheelers, and yabbying, and this planted a thought firmly in his mind, “I’m going to the bush!”

At 16, he applied for a ringer’s position with NAPCO, and was placed at Glenormiston Station, Qld for 3 months. He then transferred to nearby Roxborough Downs Station, arriving the same day as Darcy Sutton, who’d come from Soudan Station, NT, to take up the overseer’s position. Two years later, when Darcy was promoted to Manager, he offered Shannon the Head Stockman’s position, and two years after that they both transferred to Coolullah where Darcy became Manager. The biggest adjustment was the change from no horse work at Roxborough, to full-on horse work at Coolullah. Shannon says that horse work is a vital part of the job at Coolullah, and believes that “a better understanding of how to work cattle is gained off a horse, … you get more out of working cattle if you go to using horses at a younger age. Coolullah has some rough terrain, and horseback mustering is still done the “old school” way. The cattle are quiet, but there’s an odd micky bull which is the fun part of the job!”

Shannon was 18 when he became Head Stockman at Roxborough, and maintains “I was too young. My biggest let down was; Yeah, you can do it yourself, but do you have the confidence to put it into talking terms and be able to pass the knowledge onto someone else, ‘specially if they’re older blokes?”

This early experience hasn’t soured the 27 year old, who now enjoys teaching the younger kids, passing on skills, and helping them gain knowledge and experience so that “when they leave here they are able to impress their next boss.” Shannon is encouraged when young ringers are willing to use their initiative, make a decision, and cop the wrap, if it’s the wrong decision. our years ago, Shannon had a passion for getting right into bronc and bull riding (note the word “had”) “Then Naomi came along and totally changed what I was doing.” Naomi is Shannon’s partner of 4 years; they met at Coolullah, and in August of 2008 they welcomed their baby son, Travis into the family. The baby certainly put a stop to bull riding! Adaptable and talented, Naomi has been a ringer, cook, gardener and office worker at Coolullah. They both love the bush life ….“when we go on holidays, we can’t wait to get back” and they have a dream to own their own place.

In the meantime, they’d definitely like to manage a place, but don’t want jump the gun. They like the country and the social environment around Coolullah, … “it’s an area that holds the people.”

Shannon appreciates his boss Darcy Sutton… “He really took me under his wing, and looked after me, a lot. In the last 12 months I’m more involved in the decision making process and managerial training. Darcy is socially involved with the workers, which means he’s easy to approach; you don’t have to go find him.”

When we featured Darcy and Coolullah in our 2008 Catalogue, he was keen that we write an article about Shannon, as an encouragement to other young people out there, and as a tribute to Shannon, whose grit and determination has set him on a path towards a fulfilling future in the bush.

Image captions:

1) Shannon Mullaly

2) Shannon catching his horse for the day.

3) Naomi and Shannon with Travis

4) Shannon as a young ringer.