After almost a decade of drought, Australia’s largest cattle station has burst back to life with a capacity herd of Santa Gertrudis and Brahman cattle.

Story By Tom Dawkins

Gordon Warren is a happy man. With a solid day’s mustering under his belt and some homegrown beef in his belly, Anna Creek Station’s head stockman is ready to call it a night. Resting a cigarette between his lips, he wanders across from the station kitchen towards the setting sun and into the late 1800s stone cottage he shares with his partner, station cook Margy Nunn. Another day’s work is complete on the world’s biggest cattle station, a vast and highly regarded piece of S.Kidman & Co’s expansive pastoral empire located just west of Lake Eyre and on the edge of the Simpson Desert in South Australia’s far north.
Gordon and Margy have lived on a number of different cattle properties but for them, Anna Creek is special. It’s not just where they currently live and work; in all respects it is and always will be home for the couple. Gordon first came to Anna Creek in the late 1970s to work as a ringer. During this initial stint, he rekindled a long-standing family interest on the famous pastoral lease. This year marks 150 years since Gordon’s great-great-grandfather, John Warren, first brought sheep to the area now part of Anna Creek.
In 1862 the original Strangways Springs lease, which is now a part of Anna Creek, comprised 1300 square kilometres and was leased for 10 shillings per square mile and stocked with 3000 ewes and 300 rams. Today, the original homestead that Gordon and Margy share is a reminder of the station’s links to the pastoral pioneers who first worked this country.
In more recent decades, the name Nunn has become synonymous with the property. Margy’s father Dick Nunn managed Anna Creek from 1954 until 1981. Her brother Stuart then took the reins, managing the massive 24,000sq km lease until 1994. “Dad died in 1984, but people still talk about him,” Margy says. “Between Dad and Stuart, they managed the place for over 40 years.”
Margy spent the first 21 years of her life at Anna Creek, meeting the young stockman Gordon along the way. Some 21 years later, they returned to Anna Creek when he was appointed head stockman in 2007. The return to familiar territory, after stints in Queensland, the Northern Territory and on nearby properties in South Australia’s north, is one they both clearly relish. “This is home – I grew up here,” Margy says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #83

Outback Magazine: June/July 2012