The linchpin in a multi-million dollar agribusiness, Anthony Lagoon is a quintessential Barkly Tableland cattle station run by an iconic northern cattleman and his loyal and close-knit staff.

Story & photos by Peter Solness

Ian Rush has an uncanny mind for details. He can rattle off obscure dates from decades past like they were only yesterday. There was the day of his first job (March 3, 1968), the day he arrived in the Northern Territory (April 13, 1983) and of course his wedding day (December 21, 1985). But the most compelling date of all is August 9, 1980 – “at precisely 7pm”. On that night, ‘Rushie’, a respected horseman, was ‘picking up’ in the ring at the Mount Isa Rodeo when suddenly his horse fell and rolled on top of him. “The back of the saddle came down and crushed my skull,” he recalls in chilling detail. “I lay there lifeless until an ambulance came and took me away.”
Ian died twice from blood clots to the brain over the next 10 days. The doctor claimed he would never drive a car, ride a horse or drink a beer again. Yet he was back in the saddle two months later. On October 13, 1980, in fact. It was only a matter of time before he proved the doctor wrong on all three points. If the doctor had claimed he would never run a cattle station in the Northern Territory, he would have scored a quadrella.

This story excerpt is from Issue #44

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2006