“Its very satisfying”
A wave of energy accompanies George Scott wherever he goes. If he happens to be talking, and headed your way, you definitely hear him before you see him!
George, his wife Dianne, and sons Daniel, 6 and Samuel, 3 manages Lake Nash Station, south of Camooweal, Northern Territory. They began their time on the12,000 sq km station in 2004, and have come to appreciate the area and the lifestyle. When asked is their centre Camooweal? Tennant Creek? or Mt Isa?,they respond, “Well, not really, it’s The Barkly!”
George is honest: “There’s not much scenery; that’s probably one thing you could say about it, but its great country, fantastic cattle country! The cows just keep having calves… it’s very satisfying – we’re able to breed really high quality cattle.”
George is convinced Lake Nash earns a place in the Top 10 cattle stations in Australia. 2008 was a tough,drought affected time on the Barkly, and George is “relieved, but not surprised at how the country has recovered since good summer rains in 2009. I knew it would come back – there was plenty of grass tussock left, and it has responded amazingly well.”
Lake Nash is currently operated by ‘Georgina Pastoral’, and since their arrival, George and Dianne have been focussed and enthusiastic in developing the station. “It’s a big job, and its got its ups and downs. We have an owner who was very keen for us to set about it, so we’ve hooked into a lot on the property and round the homestead; building up cattle numbers, improving the waters and renovating and restoring the original buildings. This includes the headstockman’s residence, the Georgina homestead, which was transported from its original site.
George’s whole life has been spent on cattle stations; his parents were managing Tanbar Station from before he was born, and George spent all his primary years there, attending Toowoomba Grammar for secondary schooling. When he left school, he worked with Stanbroke Pastoral Co. in the Channel Country on Bulloo Downs, Davenport and Tanbar Stations. Then he moved,“away out on the Victoria River for a stint with John Underwood at ‘Riveren’.He returned to the family property at Mt Norman, near Richmond, in Queensland for a year; then rejoined Stanbroke. This included time at Rocklands as overseer, and management positions at Islay Plains, Augustus Downs, and back to Tanbar until 2004. Peter Hughes and the extended Scott family established a partnership (Georgina Pastoral Company) and this resulted in George and Dianne coming to Lake Nash.
Dianne was born and raised on the Darling Downs of South East Queensland where her parents run a Red Brahman stud. Following boarding school, she began studies in Vet Science, and took a year off to work on Killarney Station, Northern Territory.The destinies of two dynamic people were about to meet and George explains that“when I was a Riveren, I did an AI course at Scott Creek, and I ran into a little lady, and ……10 years later?” – he looks to Dianne for help “… might have been more, was it? …13 years later, she married me!” Following their first meeting, Dianne finished the Vet Science degree, Mastering in Feed lotting, and worked for Richard Bull in equine breeding work. She then put in 2 breeding seasons in the United States and then worked with Coopers Animal Health in Sydney. Destiny intervened, and she ran into George again … “it was a bad move,my career went down very rapidly after that!” All the same, she made definite plans to be closer to George, and went repping for Elanco. In 2002 they were married, and Daniel and Samuel were born. Dianne is quick to comment, “They’re the most important thing,” and George echoes, “Yeah two boys, six and three.”Dianne maintains her expertise and does some breeding work at Lake Nash, and would like to do more stud cattle stuff, but explains, “I’m more of a horse person than a cow person!” George adds, “Dianne’s skills are a tremendous asset for me, for us; and she’s a cheap one too, I must say!”
George and Dianne have an interest in, and proactive involvement with the progress and training of the ringers at Lake Nash. “The absolute beginner is the most valuable person, they are your future and specially since Di came along, …she’s able to work with people; we like to take an interest in them and where they might end up. It is all about the people at the end of the day, and they’re what makes the job interesting for us. We identify the ones with potential; the good ones stand out. Nearly all our key people are those who started with us, and we’ve become really good friends with our continuing staff. Generally speaking, I think 2 years is long enough to stay at a place, and for most young people the good part of the cattle industry is that they can, and need to move around and work elsewhere. I certainly did, I worked all over. Anyway, you don’t want them all to stay –you’ll get a whole mob who all want to be headstockmen!”
George and Dianne have worked alongside many young ringers, and George proudly describes a young man who has responded positively to rigorous station training and stock camp culture. “Its very satisfying, he’s done 3 years here now, and he’s going to run a big camp on the Barkly standing on his head, one day!”
Asked about the likes and dislikes of Lake Nash, “Dianne has learned to contend with grasshoppers and ‘The Barkly breeze’…” which typically accelerates to a howling wind. However, the Scotts talk about the benefit of having a health clinic at the nearby Alpurrurulam community. “And although it’s a challenging road into town (Camooweal) it’s actually not that far, we’re not that isolated!”
Above all, the couple enjoy the social life and lifestyle of the Barkly. “Socially, everyone gets along –there are so few people, we’ve got to pull together, and take a turn on the various committees, so that the region is represented. To get an idea of the sparseness of the population, across the Barkly there are 8 or 9 managers, caring for ¾ million head of cattle.”
Dianne had just returned from the annual Barkly Womens Day at the Barkly Roadhouse (‘The Bark Hut’), and enjoyed meeting up with 60 other women from the area for a range of beneficial activities. “Those women really ‘frock up’, and it’s a credit to Bernadette Burke (Brunette Downs) who puts in a huge effort to organise the event.”
George and Dianne invited us to walk through their home, the gracious old homestead they have been helping to restore and renovate. In spite of finding brown snakes curled up in corners of the rooms, and having to patiently endure the time its taking to complete the work, they’ve enjoyed helping to restore the stately old home. The kitchen was cool and inviting, with a view to the stables. Daniel and Samuel were playing as happily as two brothers can, and George repeated the phrase he’d used several times in the last hour – “Its very satisfying!”