2012, People, Stories and Articles

Ronnie Raggett

Mallapunyah Springs, N.T.
“My Sport”

Horse tailing was Ronnie Raggett’s first job, begun at the age of ten. He was born in 1949 at McArthur River Station “near the river,” and his father had managed the station for seventeen years. “It was a tough time; after Christmas we couldn’t get out; it was March/April before you could move around. We were living off the land.”

When asked about school, Ronnie’s reply is immediate “No,no,no, I didn’t go to school! In 1959, the old fella left and went up to Walhallow Station, and I joined the stock camp there. After horsetailing… you did two years on that, then you had to get onto other things like offsiding for the bullock tailer, then weaner tailing. You had to go through all that sorta thing.” Stock work, horse riding, bronco branding were his life, and a lot of time was spent at Tanumbirini Station. “When I turned eighteen, my ol’ man went back to Creswell Stn, and left me back there on me own.” (Ronnie’s Dad was headstockman at Creswell for twenty six years.)

The young man became Headstockman at Tanumbirini running the camp for three, four years and learning a lot from ol’ fellas who knew the country.

When the station sold, Ronnie went to Eva Downs Stn, then Creswell, then to Mallapunyah in 1968. Tom Darcy was running the camp – “He was a tough ol’ man too, the cattle were real wild… we don’t need yards. Gallop all day and throw cattle… sometimes back to camp at one, two in the morning. Good ol’ days. Tough! Ten of us in camp – in them days, that’s all we done, all of our lives.”

Ronnie, a skilled horseman and musterer, continued working on different cattle stations in the area, including another eight years at Mallapunyah from 1972 to 1979. Thirteen years ago he returned to the station; “I’m here since 1998.” Ronnie refers to what he’s done for fifty years as “my sport.” “People like doing what they like to do. I like my sport; riding horses.”

In 1970, he was back at Creswell again, for a very good reason. “That’s when I was chasing my ol’ woman. I had to go up there!” The couple have six children, five boys and one girl. Some of Ronnie’s children work alongside him at Mallapunyah, and he and his wife have regular contact and input into the lives of their nineteen grandchildren. His family are very important to him, and he reflects that he had one younger brother who died. “Grog got him… I used to drink really bad one time too, started off in 1971, gave up in 1982. I was thinking, “this grog is gonna kill me.” I had too many kids, (to keep drinking). I gave it up, like that.”

At Mallapunyah, there is plenty of opportunity for Ronnie to participate in his sport. He helps third generation Darcys, Chris and Bill in their separate cattle ventures “It’s mostly riding, the way we do it… ride out there, round ‘em up, walk ‘em. I ride in the lead all the time.” As for the future? “If I last another twenty years I’ll be happy, I’ll keep on riding horses.”


Ronnie purchased a Kent Saddle in 2009.

“Good saddle, yeah. Real good saddle. This one I got now, that’s the best one I’ve rode. Some other saddles you ride in, you get tired, ridin’ along you get a sore bum. This is the best saddle I’ve ever rode in.”

Image caption:

1) Ronnie Bronco Branding