The following footage was taken from the dashboard and out the window as I drove through Rowena Station, a sheep and cattle property off the Silver City Highway in the Northern NSW rangelands.
I was on my way to visit Matt and Sara Jackson.
They moved into the station after they were married in 2000. Matt is a local, having grown up on the next property and Sara is originally from Adelaide.
Their two young boys, Archie and Sam are home schooled through the School of the Air in Broken Hill. They were having a great time demonstrating their honed motor biking skills.
On top of the very warm welcome I received, we talked about…
Usually it’s not too bad but the last 10 years have been really bad. It’s the same all over the country.
We try not to overstock the place. That grey bush, it’s woody weed, not much eats that unless it’s really dry, they’ll have a nibble. We try to maintain the green because that’s what gets you through the hard times.
When it buggers off they’ll go to the salt bush and start eating it as their sole diet. That’s what gets them through. If you flog it right from the start then you can’t keep them on as long in a dry time. It’s a bit of a balance.
As soon as there’s one thunder storm all the roos and neighbours, even ours, they all go to that paddock. It would be nothing to have 2000 roos just in one spot. The grass just doesn’t get a chance to grow. It will stay at ground level. They’ll just mow it down… leave it like a carpet. It tries to grow but the roos just sit on it and flog it. It never grows so it doesn’t set seed properly so they are a threat.
You’ll never get rid of the bloody roos, unless there’s a massive ice age that freezes them all.
and the general attitudes to these bouncers…
Don’t get me wrong – all the station people love to see the odd kangaroo around… just not at uncontrollable levels. We get plagues every now and then. If we get a good season now we’ll have a plague again. They’ll just go berserk. Because it’s been dry for so long, numbers have died down a bit. But there are still plenty of kangaroos around.
They still issue plenty of tags for professionals to go and hunt them for meat. They give you a quota. On that same token, you’ll never get rid of them because it’s so regulated. The National Parks knows how many are shot. The only way they don’t actually know how many are shot is when a grazier goes and gets the shoot and let lie. That’s when you’ve got thousands of roos. You might have been the only place to get storms on your property and all the roos coming from everywhere to your place. They’ll go and get the let lie tags and they’re allowed to go and shoot as many roos as tags are given but it’s not actually regulated to the point where you’ve got to tell the parks whether you’ve lost all those tags, shot a heap or shot more than tags were given.
People aren’t going to get tags to shoot 100 roos. It’s only when there’s high levels that they say they have to do something about it and get out there a shoot a few.