By SAMANTHA WILLIAMS | The Daily Telegraph – Australia | June 18, 2008 12:00 am
MANY struggling farmers have been forced to swap their trucks for horses to move cattle around the state because of rising fuel prices.
Droving was once the only method of moving cattle in the outback until road transport forced the traditional way of moving stock in decline.
But droving is making a comeback because drought-stricken farmers can’t afford the sky-high fuel prices to cart their livestock.
“We were becoming like dinosaurs because there are not many of us left,” said drover Robert Groth, who is currently droving 600 cattle around Gunnedah in the state’s west.
“But with the way fuel is going you will see more of us on the roads.”
Mr Groth has spent the last three years on the road mustering cattle with his wife Anita and daughter Holly because of the drought.
But he said some farmers were taking to the roads on horseback to move cattle from their parched lands to be sold at the saleyards.
He expects in the next three months there will be even more as the price of fuel keeps rising.
“I spoke to a truck driver recently who told me his fuel bill had gone up $30,000 and they have to pass it on to somewhere,” Mr Groth said.
“Farmers battling drought won’t be able to cop the increase in carting and will end up doing it themselves. It won’t be unusual to see a farmer muster a mob of cattle for 40 miles (64km).”