People, Stories and Articles

Clint and Wendy Wockner – Glenore Station, QLD Gulf

“Out There Doing It” 

Lyle and Helen have been visiting Glenore cattle station since 2008. On our first visit, the first person we met was Wendy Wockner, enthusiastically “doing the hard yards”; planting, watering, and creating the gardens around the station complex. When a new main house was added in 2012 Wendy continued to exercise her gardening/landscaping talents. The delightful garden surrounding their home extends to the timber Indoor/Outdoor rec room area which Clint and a few men built. With Wendy’s input the garden has thrived, providing a relaxing, shady and inviting environment. Clint and Wendy have also poured heart and soul into well designed stables, tackroom, horse yards and a new workshop. For once–per–year visitors, it looks like instant improvement, but it’s evident that hours of planning and work have gone into Stanbroke – “Glenore’s” transformation. The couple point out that “…the people we work for take great pride in presentation and we just carry that on.”

Clint and Wendy Wockner fit well into the “Boy meets Girl” scenario; born and raised in the Darling Downs/South Burnett regions of South East Queensland. As children they would meet regularly, “When,” Clint describes, “our families carted us around the country to compete at Pony Club and Campdrafting events.” These kids were keen and the girl from Proston and the boy from Brymaroo were successful in reaching the top in their respective age level competitions; both representing at state level. Clint and Wendy went separate ways for schooling… Clint to High School in Oakey and then on to Emerald Agricultural College for two years… Wendy to Toowoomba’s Fairholme College as a boarder and then to James Cook Uni, Townsville for four years to study a Bachelor of Teaching degree. However it seemed that their paths were destined to cross at none other than the Dalby stock horse sale in the mid 1990’s. The couple use casual phrases like “we ran back into each other” and “met up with Wendy again”; however Wendy, who was teaching at Alligator Creek, near Mackay in QLD at the time, willingly transferred to Mt Isa to be closer (closer = 340 kilometres) to Clint, who was by then Head Stockman at Dalgonally, north of Julia Creek, Qld.

Clint had completed the minimum two years of “good basic training at Emerald Ag. We were all blokes back then… no girls; got a good grounding in everything… mechanics, engineering, welding, leather work, fencing.” Clint then worked for AA (The Australian Agricultural Company), starting in 1991 at Canobie in Qld’s Gulf Country. During this cadetship with AA he acquired a pilot’s licence which led to some aviation work at Brunette Downs on the Barkly Tableland, NT. He was then offered the Head Stockman’s position at Wondoola, so it was back to Qld’s Gulf country. From there, he was transferred to Dalgonally where he ran the camp for two, three years. Clint adds that “after Dalgonally I broke in a lot of horses. Actually, every year at the end and beginning of each mustering season I’d do that.” As well as Dalgonally, he worked with the horses on Donors Hill, Augustus Downs, Lorraine and Rocklands Stations. By this time, Clint and Wendy had “run back into each other” and with hope, enthusiasm, love and vision in their hearts and minds they decided to venture into the contract mustering business. They were married in 1999 and continued with contracting until 2006 when the Manager’s job came up at Vanrook.

Contracting was a busy, challenging, and mostly satisfying way of life. The Wockners were satisfied and able to work efficiently, “ ‘specially when we got a run of places, close together. It worked well when we went from Canobie to Wondoola to Lorraine to Glenore and then Vanrook.” Typically, weather conditions would interrupt managers’ plans and this in turn impacted on Clint and Wendy’s operation. In addition, there was always the challenge of finding reliable workers for their two contracting teams. The Wockners frequently employed and relied on indigenous stockmen for their work force and Clint describes their innate horsemanship and stock handling skills. “Instinctively they seemed to be able to pick up a bridle, catch, saddle and ride a horse.”

Their three sons were born during the contracting years; Charlie in 2000, Darcy in 2003, Cody in 2004. “That steadied me up a bit,” Wendy laughs. “We had tool boxes full of toys and all the painting/craft materials. We had to cart a cubby house made out of a freezer box everywhere we went and we had a poddy calf with us for a time… caused some dramas, that poddy.” Wendy was responsible for cooking for the camp and often a limited supply of water meant that she washed everyone’s clothes. At times, to help out they employed an offsider in the camp. Clint and Wendy owned a house in Julia Creek and, fortunately, Wendy was able to do some supply teaching at the school through the wet seasons. When Charlie was ready to start school Wendy was “uncertain whether the teacher in me would be able to do it out of a box under a tarp”, so in 2006 the shift to Vanrook for the management position was timely.

There are no regrets about the years of contracting and Clint’s sense of humour surfaces. “We built and decked out a few caravans. We could tell you how to do that, that’s for sure!”

The Wockners spent two years at Vanrook and loved it. In 2008 they brought their enthusiasm and dedication to station life at Glenore. “Its had its challenges… “sometimes you start to wonder,” Wendy reflects. On many cattle stations staff retention is an ongoing issue; however for the last couple of years Clint and Wendy have been encouraged by the quality of their workers and are confident… “We couldn’t have better staff.” The Wockners are committed to providing opportunities for young people to succeed in the cattle industry and are convinced that so long as an employee wants to learn, he/she will find a satisfying, rewarding place within the stock camp/station environment.

The country around and north of Julia Creek has always provided the backdrop for their working lives and they love the country, the scenery and “The Wet”. Having worked on Vanrook and Glenore in their contracting days, Clint and Wendy already knew the country well and have transitioned to the management role with an established team work approach.

Wendy enjoys helping out with the horse plant and sees her commitment to the hard work involved with shoeing and grooming as “good for me”. While she is keen to teach farrier’s skills to the young workers, she enjoys working solo and welcomes the opportunity to get away by herself, with the horses for company.

Thirty years on and the couple’s passion for and interest in horse sports and events remain as strong as ever and are shared by their three sons.

“Horses have always been a part of our life”, Wendy states. “Horse events are the thing we do together as a family. As well, everyone from the community gets together… we see it as a good family and social sport.” Clint and Wendy have always been involved in local campdraft committees and in helping out in their community.

Clint, while relying on contractors to help during the peak mustering times, is keen to involve the stock camp team in all aspects of station life. To this end and whenever possible, camping “out bush” is included in the program. Clint encourages and expects the ringers to take personal responsibility and ownership for all aspects of station life, be it with cattle/horse care, driving machinery, fencing, fixing pumps etc.

Clint and Wendy are representative of many couples of their generation who have dedicated their lives to the cattle industry and have given generously of their accumulating skills and expertise. The Wockners love the bush and have chosen to raise their sons in an Outback environment. “Right now, Wendy indicates, “we’re going down the road of education for our kids and that really is a big priority in our life. Family is very important to us and we try to involve our kids in all aspects of our lives. Our families did that for us and we are very grateful.”

In 2014, Charlie was attending boarding school in Toowoomba; Darcy and Cody were enrolled in the Mt Isa Distance Education program, with Home Tutor, Amy, and their teacher/Mum keeping a watchful eye on their progress.

It’s inspirational to observe this couple’s commitment to both family and the industry. There’s no question that life in rural and Outback Australia will remain viable, positive and worthwhile with people like Clint and Wendy Wockner “out there doing it!”

Clint and Wendy Wockner, Glenore Station, Qld Gulf, 2014

Image captions:

1) Clint and Wendy Wockner with
(L-R) Cody, Darcy and Charlie Wockner.

2) Glenore Garden – relaxing, shady and inviting.

3) Rec Club, which Clint and a few other men built.

4) Horses – always been a part of our life.

5) Clint – ‘Breezy Maiden Final’.

6) Darcy & Cody helping a poddy along.

7) Charlie

8) Cody

9) Darcy

10) Wendy – out there doing it!

11) Clint on the radio.

12) Cody at the yards -2014.

13) Fun to be had on the house dam-when it fills.

14) Wendy – still smiling.

15) Darcy – out mustering 2014.

16) Clint & Wendy

17) The Wockner boys proudly wearing Kent Saddlery belts.