Two years ago almost to the day we passed through Camooweal. The highlight back then was the Drovers Shed. So we went to visit it again.
This is a wonderful achievement of a group of dedicated and passionate people who could see the legend and stories of the drovers and their life-style disappearing as the men and women that lived that legend died. So in 2002 they started tracing the people still left from that era, recording their stories, collecting the equipment they used and raising money to preserve it all.
Their creation is “The Drovers Shed”, a large corrugated iron barn, 1 kilometre east of Camooweal, set in the heart of droving territory, among the huge cattle stations.
They do not charge admission, a donation is all they suggest and a donation box is located at the entrance door.
It is like entering another world and era. There are well-worn saddles scattered about. The pack saddles and camp ovens are around the imitation camp fire. Hanging on a branch are battered, sweat-soaked Akubras and raw hide whips. The swags and camp cart stand waiting to be used. Along the walls are large information boards with photos, diagrams and history of the droving era.
A life-size mural is around another wall and it shows a mob of cattle settled for the night with the cook preparing the meal. In front is the imitation fire and pack saddles laid ready for the morning.
Along another wall is a large as life photo of a crowd watching a rodeo, and the life-size bull you can climb on, if you dare…
But the real highlight, what makes this so special, is you are given a one hour tour of the exhibits and shed by a genuine living legend, a man who started droving when he was 18 and lived the life of a drover for more than 20 years. He explained what the equipment was and told stories and anecdotes of the men and women he drove the huge mobs of cattle with. Average number of cattle would be 1200 to 1500 in one mob. 8 people would move that number over huge distances averaging 14 kilometres a day. Old style droving finished in the 1960’s when the roads were improved through the outback, and road trains took over the job of moving cattle.
The last place we go is into a separate room that is the gallery. This is a very special art gallery of portraits of all the drovers that are still living. Beautifully drawn in pastel. Some have since died but their stories have been recorded. Also many news paper articles of relevance.
This is a very special place and is made that way by the passion and dedication of the people who have spent many hours tracking down all these objects and telling the stories of an era that is uniquely Australian and that shaped our nation.