Operating a Cattle Farm as a Quadriplegic

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In The News

Rob and Sarah created a thriving life for themselves and their two sons on a cattle farm on Suplejack Downs, Australia’s most remote cattle farm in the Northern Territory. Then in 2008, Rob was paralyzed in a helicopter crash during a routine aerial muster on the farm.

man in a wheelchair sits next to a woman

For the next four years, Rob and his family remained on their cattle station where they had planned to live the rest of their lives. “We tried real hard to stay in the Northern Territory but getting carers who want to live and work in such a remote area was a logistical nightmare,” shares Rob.

And so Rob, Sarah, and their sons relocated to Central Queensland. Their move afforded them the ability to have carers readily available to help with Rob’s care, easier accessibility to medical centers, and the chance to still live their dream of operating a cattle farm.

Rob’s entire family is actively involved in raising the cattle. With the help of a carer and Sarah, Rob gets into a four-wheeler where he participates in mustering. The family also installed hydraulic cattle yards that Rob operates using a computer.

“Having the kids see me back in that role where I’m physically opening and closing gates, drafting cattle, that’s a big thing for me."

Rob also acknowledges the physical demands his wife faces both in working the cattle farm and in providing care for her husband. “There’s not many wives that can jump on a grader, or jump in a truck with a dog and cart cattle until midnight, then back it up by welding up a gate and be on a horse mustering,” says Rob. But Sarah’s job isn’t done when the farm is quiet at night. “Sarah gets up and down five and six times a night, pulls the blankets on, pulls the blankets off, gives me a drink of water, blows my nose, scratches my ear and that’s all night, every night,” Rob explains. “It is what goes on behind closed doors that is truly inspirational.”

Rob and his family live a full life on their cattle farm. And although having to relocate and leave behind his extended family – including his parents, two brothers and their families – was extremely tough for Rob, he says he’s proud of his family for thriving in their new environment. “There is always that longing there, it burns, but at the same time we’re grateful, we’ve been to the bottom of the barrel and we’re slowly climbing our way back up.”

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