At a time when families are finding it increasingly difficult to pass down the land to the next generation, the Fogartys have managed to buy a station for each of their five children.
Story By Fiona Lake
Ted Fogarty and his wife Kath achieved what most would write off as an impossible dream. They started with nothing in 1962 but have managed to buy a sizeable cattle station for all five children. “I decided to give ’em something more than I started with,” Ted says. “I wanted to buy ’em a station each.” The aim was achieved in three decades, with the last stations bought in 1995. He modestly puts it all down to “a bit of luck – buying before the prices really went up”, but hard work and persistence were the obvious essentials. “They’re not frightened of hard work,” Ted says of his children. Nor is he, having only started school at 11, and leaving two years later to join the workforce after his father died. Feats in his youth include walking 1600 head across the Northern Territory from “Bradshaw” (north of Timber Creek) to “Mulga Park” (south of Alice), the two stations he owned with his brother Dave. He also walked 600 horses across the Murranji Track.
“Lucy Creek” is where Ted’s children grew up and it remains his pride and joy. Bisected by Arthur and Lucy creeks that start in the Jinka and Dulcie ranges to the west, a huge variety of plants and trees grow on the mixture of limestone, sandy and flood-out country. Running an average of 8000 cattle, it is now home to Ted’s third son Allan and his wife Jo.
Hereford bullocks so fat they are nearly round, skip happily across the road leading to the homestead as the sun sets over spinifex-clad red hills so typical of the Alice Springs region. Radio and telephone masts, satellite dishes and solar panels surround new machinery sheds and quarters. Among the new technology are two solid World War II army sheds, now used for storage. These were the only buildings on the place when Ted and Dave each purchased a quarter-share in Lucy Creek in 1962. Alice Springs publican Laurie Rourke bought the remaining half-share. In 1964 Ted swapped his share in Mulga Park with Dave, in return for Dave’s share in Lucy Creek. A decade later Ted became the sole owner when he bought Laurie’s share for $200,000. “Argadargada”, a station north-east of Lucy Creek, and a farm at Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria were bought then sold, but the other Territory stations bought – “Palmer Valley”, “Mount Ebenezer”,
“Lilla Creek”, “Anningie” and Lucy Creek – remain in Forgarty family ownership.
The Fogarty children had a busy childhood. “We wouldn’t be at school and the teacher would ring up to see where we were,” Allan says. “Dad would say, ‘They’re out in the stockcamp, they’ll be back in a month’.” Older brother Steve says, “We had a bludge when we were doing correspondence, but we paid for it later on. I’d had too much free rein, doing what I pleased.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #57
Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2008