The Island Rescue…

(This post is long and image heavy – grab a cuppa and get comfy – I promise you it’ll be worth it!)


So how is your 2011 shaping up?  After all the drama associated with the last week of 2010, I was ready for a nice quiet start to the New Year.  Do you think we got it? Hmmmm…

It was a reasonably easy-going morning here on January 1, after a late night playing tennis and drinking chardonnays and welcoming ’11 at our neighbours (who happen to also be my aunt and uncle) with friends and family.  Mum and Dad arrived just before lunch, for a look-see at the water views of Granite Glen after arriving back from their Christmas cruise.  Mr Incredible was showing Dad some of the flood damage (more on that in a later post) and Mum and I were cleaning up from afternoon tea when there was a knock at the door.

Funny, I thought, I don’t recall hearing a vehicle?

And on going outside, I found out why.  Some neighbours had been cruising around the floodwaters in their fishing boat when they noticed some of our cattle stranded on a new ‘island’ in the middle of the floodwaters about 10 km downstream.  It was an area we hadn’t been able to access by vehicle for more than a week – and according to our informants, these heifers (young female cattle) had clearly been stuck there for a good few days.  The neighbours – Gee and Dee – decided to let us know immediately and simply zoomed up the river in their boat to let us know.  I quickly called the boys on the two-way radio and got them to curtail their inspection tour.

After a hurried conference, all decided to head straight down to the place in question and attempt to swim the heifers to safety before they got too weak to make the effort.  My uncle Tee was called on too, and the men loaded all their dogs into the 4WD utes and headed out. Gee and Dee walked back to the river, and motored downstream with our tinnie in tow.

The consequences if these animals had not been rescued from their tiny piece of dry land would clearly be pretty dire – floodwaters had damaged most of the grass once growing there so there was no fodder to sustain them.  Apparently there was an area the size of our dining room on which all 32 heifers had stood at the height of the flooding.  It’s an awful thought, just another surge of water and they would have had nothing but water under them.

I reluctantly elected to stay behind with Mum and the kids (the chance of getting bogged with extra vehicles on the still VERY wet roads was very real) but luckily my aunt is a dab hand with camera, and leapt aboard my uncle’s ute with my cousin Bee, before they took off.  All images here are hers (note the ‘Bon Bon’ watermarks).

I suspect that Bruiser (my Dad) was more than happy to be in the thick of the action after a few weeks away – wild horses couldn’t have stopped him being there, climbing into that dingy.


The dogs had no clue what was going on – we never swim cattle and they had never been in a boat before. (Note: this boat is the tinny Mr I eventually rescued from here).

This shot was taken as the men loaded the boats with dogs and headed to the tiny island visible directly above the boat heading out from shore…


The two boats and cargo had to motor across approximately 500 metres of water to the island and stranded cattle.


And off to the rescue…


The second boat loaded with humans and canines (and the photographer!) before following…

Gee checked his fishing sonar and noted that the water was around 10 metres deep (over 30 feet) for most of the way.  *shudder*


Dad surveying the tiny 30 metres square island after tieing up the boat.  (A little different, no doubt, to the massive ship he and Mum spent Christmas on!)


Uncle Tee, Dee and Mr Incredible heading towards the mob, all huddled on one point of the island.


Lining up the manpower and dogs, ready to push the cattle into the water (the ultimate destination is to the left of picture but this was the best place to get them going from the island).


Waiting… waiting…


Closing in slowly…


And GO – everyone moved forward pushing quickly to give the heifers no time to consider NOT entering the muddy floodwaters…


And with a LOT of canine ‘encouragement’, they are IN…


Dad anxiously watching the heifers circle around, trying to prevent them coming back to shore..


Mr Incredible waded in behind them (with a big waddy) to encourage the cattle to keep on paddling…

(First thought: I TOLD him to take his swimmers. Second thought: the WASHING!)


He kept pushing, as the others quickly grabbed the two boats, to keep guiding them across to dry land… (in the distance)


Jet decided that was enough for him (Millie was still hunting them along until her master called her back to the island – he suspects she might have tried to do the whole trip if he hadn’t insisted on her return!)


The heifers looking quite lost in the water – and that land looks a LONG WAY AWAY!


The floating musterers were trying to keep the boats in the right position – too close and the cattle would have panicked (and maybe gone under) and not close enough and they would have headed back to the island.


It was a very fine balance – luckily we had some very experienced (if usually horse-mounted) stockmen and women working them.


Cruel and Jet come back to the island (and the photographer) as the boaters did their job.


A wide shot to give some perspective to the effort…


And zoomed in – the heifers continued circling in their little mob the entire way.

An interesting thing that the rescuers noticed was that about halfway through the ordeal, the heifers seemed to bloat up with air, tipping a little on their sides and almost ‘floating’ in the water.  Apparently this is a natural thing bovines do when they swim.  (A similar thing happens to me in the pool after Christmas lunch!)


The heifers kept wanting to swim towards the yard (out of sight, to the left of the view above) against the current and wind.  They effectively did a huge back-to-front  ‘C’ rather than a direct swim.


Some of the other heifers who chose to go to the RIGHT higher ground during the floods last week, came in for a squiz and appeared to be asking:

‘WHAT on earth are you lot up to?  We’ve been worried SICK!’

Finally, after 22 minutes of frantic swimming, the heifers found something solid under their hooves…


And walked up onto shore – and a paddock with some space and grass!


I wondered if they started eating immediately, but apparently they paced the fence trying to get up higher, away from the water.

Can’t say I blame them!


A huge thanks to our good samaritans, Dee and Gee, and my gorgeous cousin Bee.  All will possibly kill me for posting this, but I love this shot of them returning victorious from their mission.


And these were a couple of happy (and slightly relieved) faces too.  A job VERY well done!


Loading up some reluctant dogs and a (no doubt) more eager photographer…


for the return journey to dry land…


And some bedraggled but finally safe girls…


I bet they slept well last night, after their ordeal and with belly full of grass.


How was YOUR New Year’s Day? (I sincerely hope it was way more boring than ours!)

31 Responses to “The Island Rescue…”

  1. Wow! Your dad looks like he is SO in his element! Love it!
    Teri´s last blog post ..Goals- Theyre All About Me!

  2. Oh my gosh. I never knew that cattle could swim like that. I am glad they were rescued. What an adventure!
    debby´s last blog post ..Its not Times Square- but

  3. Wow! Okay forgive me before i even say this… It’s like your own version of Rescuer’s Down Under!!! ;-) Ha!

    That is a crazy way to start off the new year! I figured cows could swim but i’ve never seen it and that is a long distance. I’m so glad the cattle are safe, and all the rescuers. Mr. Incredible’s face in the 5th pic from the bottom is great. Very happy and relived :-) Glad it all worked out and here’s to hoping for no more island rescues this year!

  4. What a wild day and a great rescue !~! Happy New Year. I sincerely hope it calms down some for you all.

  5. Great tale. I knew it would end well as you wouldn’t have written a significantly sized post if I wasn’t going to.

  6. Great pictures, so glad your Aunt could capture that.
    I remember saving sheep and cattle from floods as a child in the 80’s and again in 2000 in Central West NSW and I only wish that waterproof digital cameras had been around so that people could actually see what it was like.

  7. “How was YOUR New Year’s Day? (I sincerely hope it was way more boring than ours!)”

    My God,BB, you have a fine sense of humour!
    Fancy thinking cattle can’t swim!
    Isn’it amazing how country people help each other! In cities, it is every ‘rat’ for themselves. Ah we won’t go into that, far too depressing and they assume that the meat on the supermarket shelves just appear by magic!
    Great photography and report, BB.
    I hope the rain has eased, plus the floodwaters? Or are you going to get more?
    The weather reports don’t look too good, but at least you have high areas for the cattle.
    Cheers and keep the strong Aussie stiff attitude.
    Colin (HB)

  8. Kym Capp (nee Bridge) Reply January 2, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Bruiser has still ‘got it”! Love the adventures as did Baxter and Tim! Please keep the old fella in the photos from time to time for me :)

  9. That was one excellent documentary… my kids were enthralled reading it.. thanks so much for sharing.. and, your photography is just gorgeous! As a side note.. I have placed your Calender up on the wall today.. I am so proud of it!

    • Thanks Cazzie – feel compelled to point out that photos today by my aunty Bon Bon!! Glad you are likin’ the calendar…

    • Kym Capp (nee Bridge) Reply January 3, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Ha ha! – thanks heaps! One of my favourite weekends that one!!!!
      Luv ur work and thanks for the thumbs up! Sorry that I wasn’t up to date with all that stuff! Ready for more please!!!

  10. What an amazing story! Wow, BB!! Blown away just reading this. Great photos, too. We’ve been hearing of your flood troubles. This would make a great story for the news.
    Kate´s last blog post ..By jove- I think I’ve got it

  11. Wow, want an adventure. Its a totally different world for me but I love the way you tell and document a story.
    DaddyNoBucks´s last blog post ..Australia

  12. I was showing Tim these pictures, and I must ask. On the trip back, with Cruel looking like as if she’d found her sea legs, which made me laugh, more than anything, I loved the look on your father’s face…he looks as if he’d burst into some rollicking celebratory song. Had he? Just curious.

    You do know that you are living “THE” life, don’t you?

    Most animals can swim, if push comes to shove, but for an entire herd to instinctively stick together and to swim that distance…it was a suprise to me. Do you know this story…that a ship wreck on Lake Huron caused a boat load of cattle to be lost, and they went down with the ship. They are there to this very day, hovering at the bottom of the lake. You see, Lake Huron is so cold that bacteria cannot live in it. The cows bob at the bottom of the lake because decomposition has never taken place. It has been described as a bovine ballet, of sorts, the cattle just bobbing along at the bottom of the lake all these years and years after the wreck.
    debby´s last blog post ..Its not Times Square- but

  13. Yay! For the rescue. I TOLD YOU that you’d need kayaks to push the cattle around in that flood.
    Leenie´s last blog post ..JANUS-Gates- Beginnings and Endings

  14. Wow! I hope you don’t have to surpass that adventure this year! The old American western movies show cattle swimming, but I doubt those movie cattle swam as far as yours! What fantastic neighbors you have – true neighboring spirit.

    May the rest of 2011 be calmer!!!

  15. What a fascinating post!! Those cows looked so lost and vulnerable out it that water!!

    So glad it worked out okay…and that you had a fill-in photographer. She did a great job!
    Kelly´s last blog post ..Pear Pie

  16. Carolyn (farmerbub) Reply January 3, 2011 at 10:24 am

    BB – I remember as a 10 year old swimming cattle out of the bullock paddock on the Don River at Rannes Station (between Biloela/Baralaba/Goovigen). We had 600 jap ox with Dad, two of my older brothers and 8 dogs. The dogs would get tired of swimming and climb on the back or the front of our saddles till they got their breath back. We got all the bullocks out but it wasnt that much fun at the time. I particularly remember how low in the water cattle get with just their nostrils and tops of their heads out. Thanks for bringing back the memory BB. Happy New Year. Carolyn

  17. Fantastic narrative and photos! Love the personal perspective. So glad for rescued cattle! Every evening Australia’s flooding is making the evening news here on our side of this little globe.

  18. What drama! That was a mighty long way for those gals to swim! And to think I sat around all day in my jammies – the most exciting thing I did was to make waffles on my new waffle-maker! A great series of photos and a spellbinding story! And I love happy endings!

  19. Amazing.
    History in the making. So glad you have photos :)
    Amanda´s last blog post ..Dear Darl- it’s 212011

  20. What a way to begin the New Year. Thanks so much for posting this story. My world is several corners removed from yours and I always find it so enriching to read about other life styles. What an eyeopener. You guys really don’t have it easy.
    News of Queensland flood has even reached TV in France, so I guess that the area affected is really huge.
    Also thanks for the photos. There can never be enough of them…
    Take care.

  21. Wow, husband & I spellbound reading this. Makes getting up & going out to feed our cows & calves in 20 degree weather a piece of cake! Just now hearing about your troubles here on the news. Ron Hayes, an ag news, & radio reporter, put this on his e-mail newsletter this morning. Our thoughts and prayers for you & your operation. Great photos. From N. Oklahoma, USA

  22. Great pictures and story. Nice blog. I have just started mine and appreciate the effort!
    Linda´s last blog post ..A Week in the Life of an Onsite Peer Reviewer

  23. Wow! That was quite the riveting adventure! And what a way to kick off 2011! Glad every thing went well! Happy 2011, hope it’s a great one for you!

  24. michele and daniel Reply January 6, 2011 at 6:56 am

    We stayed in Queensland for 6 weeks 3 years ago and we greatly appreciated the land and its people. That’s why we’ve been so worried for you all these last few days, and that’s also why we’re not surprised by the spirit you show infront of such ordeals… Bravo to you all and keep holding on. From France we are in thought with you.

  25. Wow – a little overwhelmed by the response to this post!

    Thanks all for your concern – like I have said elsewhere, we are the lucky ones. Still watching the real drama play out further west – Rolleston, Theodore etc – and north – Emerald and Rocky.

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