Steadily building his contract mustering business, Queenslander Ned Whip has never let cerebral palsy hold him back from living his dream.

Story By Annabelle Brayley

The Sunday sun is slowly sinking towards the horizon. The weekend is nearly done and a new work week beckons. With shades of a storm-rocked sailor in his awkward, rolling gait, 23-year-old contract musterer Ned Whip launches himself onto a Suzuki DR-Z400, which he’s had lowered to accommodate the shortness of his legs. He rides it up onto the back of his LandCruiser, straps it down and stows the mobile ramp in beside. He throws his swag and bag in, shakes hands with his father, Bruce, and hugs his mother, Jo, giving them last-minute instructions about the care of his dogs and horses, neither of which is needed for this job.
It’s another busy week on “Glenrowan”, their home property at Morven in south-west Queensland, but Ned’s been booked well ahead by Kenton and Amy Peart who are branding at “Dunvegan”, 50 kilometres north-east of Charleville. “We have to book him well ahead too, just like everyone else,” Bruce says.
According to Kenton, Ned’s the man. “We’ve been using Ned since he came back from the Kimberley a couple of years ago,” he says. “He’s extremely well organised, very capable and his gear is always well looked after. He’s got good dogs that he brings when we’re working dry cattle and he’s reliable. If he says he’ll be there, he’ll be there. He’s an excellent stockman and shies at nothing.” Shaking his head at the thought, he says, “He’s very strong and fast; I’m pushed to keep up with him.” Laughing, Kenton adds, “He’s also very good company. He laughs a lot and loves to push people’s buttons”.
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two years old, Ned has no patience for malingering and very rarely talks about the tag he’s been forced to acknowledge but won’t be defined by. Looking you dead in the eye, he will only murmur quietly, “It’s not something I think about”.

This story excerpt is from Issue #89

Outback Magazine: June/July 2013