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FIVE FAMOUS AUSSIE DROVERS

By Ron SchererStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / January 7, 1991



Nathaniel Buchanan (1826-1901) took 1,200 cattle from Aramac in Queensland to the Adelaide River with no settlement for over 1,000 miles. On the trail he faced hostile aborigines. He retraced his steps, taking 20,000 cattle back in 1880. Mr. Buchanan was the first drover to take cattle into the Kimberleys, and he pioneered the Murranji Trail, an important stock route. Bill Gwydir (1908-1981) worked the Birdsville track, which runs from Queensland to Marree in South Australia. He had two epic trips across Cooper's Creek in 1949 and 1950 when it was flooded. In 1943 he drove 700 bullocks across Kallacoopah Creek and up the Diamantina River. He faced quicksand and hundreds of miles of sand dunes but lost only three cattle.

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Matt Savage (1892-1972), the ``Boss Drover,'' was known for ``snaffling'' other people's cattle to feed his cowboys on the trail. Mr. Savage said he would rather have a ``good enemy'' than a good friend. In 1950, he had to wait eight weeks for the Cooper to stop flooding.

Scotty Watson (1927-) has been on the road since he was 14. Mr. Watson took 1,000 cattle 2,000 miles in 1955; it took nine months. ``It was a long way,'' recalls Watson, who then walked his horses back another 600 miles. He figures he took 15 trips, all of them more than 500 miles and with at least 1,000 head of cattle.

Edna Zigenbine (1927-) is the second daughter of Harry Zigenbine. When her father became ill, she took 1,600 bullocks from Bedford Downs in the Kimberleys to Dajarra in Queensland. Most of the trip was done with only three other drovers.