In my last post I refered to "the Long Paddock" and I'm not sure that my non-Aussie readers will understand what that is so I thought I would try to give you an explanation.
The Long Paddock is the colloquial term for the stock routes that cross Australia – open strecthes of unfenced land that anyone can use to move stock.
In Australia, the Travelling Stock Route is an authorised thoroughfare for the walking of domestic livestock such as sheep or cattle from one location to another. These Stock Routes are known collectively as "The Long Paddock".
A Travelling Stock Route may look just like an ordinary country road. The difference is that the grassy verges on either side of the road are very much wider.
The property fences are set back much further from the roadside than usual. The reason for this is so that the livestock may feed on the vegetation that grows on the verges as they travel.
Bores, equipped with windmills and troughs, may also be located at regular intervals to provide water in regions where there are no other reliable water sources.
By law, the travelling stock must travel "six miles a day" (approximately 10 kilometres per day). This is to avoid all the roadside grass from being cleared in a particular area by an individual mob.
The traveling stock are diven by stockmen on horseback, quad bikes or motorbikes assisted as always by their trusty working dogs, often Cattle Dogs, Border Collies or Kelpies or a mixture of these breeds specially bred for working with stock.
There is usually a support vehicle traveling with the herd - sometimes a caravan or a four wheel drive vehicle with cooking and bedding supplies.
Sometimes the drover's family is also there to assist him with children and wives taking their turn to keep the mob under control and out of danger.
A Travelling Stock Reserve is a fenced paddock set aside at strategic distances to allow overnight watering and camping of stock where the stock can be contained safely so the drovers can get a bit of sleep confident that their herd will not stray into danger during the night .
The purpose of "droving" livestock on such a journey might have once been to move the stock to different pastures or to market, but these days this is usually done by trucking them from one place to the next.
These days, in times of extreme drought, when paddocks lack feed and/or water, stockowners are forced to reduce their livestock numbers radically and take the remaining beasts to travel their six miles a day, along the stock routes, surviving on the roadside grass till the rains come and once again their paddocks have grass enough to support the herd.
At the moment the situation in many outback areas is dire and livestock herds are once again to be seen traveling the long paddock.
* all photos today from the Internet