Tough times as a stockman led Terry Hanly to a career change with the Queensland Police stock squad, where he spent 30 successful years.

Story By David Gilchrist

A strapper at the Gladstone Camel Races in central Queensland puts a saddle onto a recalcitrant camel’s back as it regurgitates a bucketful of bile. That strapper is known to racegoers as a recently retired Queensland bush legend.
Three embossed letters on his trademark sandy-coloured wide-brimmed Akubra – QPS for Queensland Police Service – are a reminder that the legend is retired Detective Senior Sergeant Terry Hanly. He dons the hat with the same pride he felt on becoming a member of the Stock Squad about 30 years ago.
Queensland police inspector Virginia Nelson from QPS Central Region says Terry’s contribution to stock and preventing rural crime “will not be replicated, I suspect, in QPS history”. This claim is no exaggeration. Terry started out on the floodplains of Queensland’s south-west where Cooper Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina rivers sometimes run and camels and cattle roam. It was 1976 when the thin, angular stockman stood at a dusty crossroads between Boulia, Springvale, Bedourie, Cluny and Monkira, considering his future.
Out there by Coorabulka Station, Terry decided it was time to give up being a stockman and join the Stock Squad, officially known as the Stock and Rural Crime Investigation Squad (SARCIS). He was just short of 25 years old.
On the day he retired, wellwishers from across Australia phoned with congratulations for a man whose story started on a selection drawn from historic Daandine Station in Queensland’s golden west. “Dad drew a property that was part of the old Daandine Station near Dalby,” Terry says. “Mum and Dad cleared that with a crosscut saw and bloody axe and shovel. It was two square miles [five square kilometres] for grain and cattle.”
Terry’s father, Leo, also worked as a ringer and drover around Queensland. “I always wanted to be a drover like Dad,” Terry says. He left home to work with sheep and cattle near Blackall but, he laments, “I didn’t really have much fun with those bloody woolly-jumper fellows”.

This story excerpt is from Issue #88

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2013