The Hawkins dynasty is one of the few hands-on, family operations that has succeeded in large-scale cattle country in northern Australia.

Story and photos Fiona Lake 

Heading north from Camooweal on the Northern Territory/Queensland border towards the most remote corner of Queensland’s Gulf region, you’d not expect to see a dairy cow, let alone seven, including one that is still producing milk way past the age of 20.

But that’s exactly what you’ll find on Herbertvale station, poking around among the native Mitchell and Flinders grasses, sharing a paddock with the station’s mares and foals. Herbertvale is typical of northern cattle stations in many ways – but the dairy cows are an indicator that the Hawkins family is different.

Owned by the Hawkins family’s HC Pastoral Pty Ltd, Herbertvale is run by eldest son Clint and his wife Shelly, with their sons Ben and Lachie helping during school holidays. Clint’s two siblings also work in the family business – his brother Bill is on another family property, Malakoff Downs at Hughenden, and brother Dan is now based in Camooweal. Their parents, Charlie and Jackie, live in Toowoomba.

Clint says they manage their family business by allowing each other to concentrate on their specific interests and not encroaching on one another’s specialty. “I wanted to keep all the boys at home,” Charlie says. “And they wanted to be at home. They all knew that for that to happen, they’d have to have different skills to offer.” Clint’s forte is cattle breeding and Dan is a diesel mechanic and truck driver who manages the earthmoving side of the business. Bill has been running a feedlot the family leased near Theodore for several years, as well as being the chief pilot, managing the helicopters. “There is some overlap, when they work together, and that’s good,” Charlie says. “But if they were always mustering the same paddock together, there’d be rows.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #114

Outback Magazine: August/September 2017