PEOPLE across the Top End and in to Queensland all have heard of Tony Davis, the Barefoot Cattleman, but do they really know how passionate he is about his cattle and the country he walks on? He truly is a practical cattleman.
It was on everyone's lips when Tony sold Limbunya in the Northern Territory that he would retire. How wrong they were.
I caught up with Tony in my travels to Top End recently and had a yarn about the current situation on live export and the extensive improvements Tony has put into his station Moroak, 100km east of Mataranka.
Rain or droughts are not an issue there, due to Tony's inventive solutions in diversifying his properties' to become very sustainable and easy to manage.
Just to put in perspective, Moroak is 2400sq km and is situated on the Roper River, where Tony runs 25,000 head of Brahman cattle.
He has poured a lot of money into Moroak since he purchased it in 2004. Forty dams have been added to the property including solar tanks and troughs, and Tony has completely fenced the place off, not to mention the improvements' to the main homestead.
He recently purchased a cattle crush and put a dip on the place, which has made it a lot easier on the cattle and less stress. By rotating his paddocks, Tony reckons he can keep an eye on how the cattle holding up on the property prior to the wet setting in.
Once the wet has set in at Moroak it is completely shut down. By the time this happens, Tony has already moved cattle with weights of 280-300kg to his prime Alice Springs properties, Hamilton Downs, Amburla Station and Milton Park, which also runs 25,000 head of Brahman cattle which are grown out to Jap ox standard.
This gives Tony more options to other markets in the south, with no problems with weather and accessibility.
Tony Davis is happy being at Moroak during the wet-season months. From his front veranda, he can throw a lure into the mighty Roper and always catch a feed of barra. With all the turmoil with live export Tony reckons he would only be to happy to let Indonesia take all his cattle and pay him at the 350kg weight any weight over the 350kg they can have as a bonus.
Tony has become very concerned with the cattle industry at present. He is worried about all the "do-gooders", so much so he has contacted his long-time friend and a bloke from whom he always buys his bulls Peter Hacon at Granada, near Cloncurry to tell him that he will be looking only for polled bulls in the future.
Tony said one old Aboriginal explained to him once that he was a tree, with his roots going into the ground. He said that's were they belong. That's how I feel. That's why the Aboriginals have got things right."
Now that the tropically aligned Brahman herd is fully established on Tony Davis' properties, and the live cattle trade out of Darwin to South East Asia is back up and running, everything seems to be falling into place for the practical cattleman of the Northern Territory.