Of hope and hair

Of hope and hair

Lily, Kate and Ruby Bradshaw have a light-hearted take on a serious subject.

Lily, Kate and Ruby Bradshaw have a light-hearted take on a serious subject.


DROUGHT is a time of harsh realities: dead cattle, dead kangaroos, dead fish, dead windmills.


DROUGHT is a time of harsh realities: dead cattle, dead kangaroos, dead fish, dead windmills.

So begins a video created by Kate Bradshaw and her daughters Lily, 12, and Ruby, 10, showing what has been their reality for the past three years.

Their property, Luckham Station, 80 kilometres from Winton, has been wracked by drought, and the images bring their daily struggles home.

Kate is worried about the impact the drought has on her daughters - although most cattle have been agisted, there is no escape from the dead native animals.

Lily explains what she doesn't like about the drought - her parents worrying about money and "my horse eating dirt".

For Ruby, along with having her pet pig sold because they couldn't afford to feed it, it's the state of their... hair.

"Since the drought, we've had very little water and what we do have is very dirty, so we've all had to get the drought hair cut, which is short and brown," Kate says, as they remove their hats to show the evidence.

Their serious but light-hearted video saw them winners of the Queensland Rural, Remote and Regional Women's Network's 'Who's gonna do it for you?' video competition, at the annual conference in Biloela last Friday.

"We have never done anything like that before and we thought we would have a go at it," Kate said.

"Because it was a women's conference, we thought we would do it on something all women could relate to."

The Bradshaws drove over 1000 kilometres to Biloela, making the most of the water and the green lawns during their stay.

"Every woman can relate to a bad hair day," Kate said.

Winning the competition took them surprise, but at the announcement there was a deafening ovation.

"We didn't expect it and we didn't expect the response we've had," said Kate, who also saw the video as a means of bridging the gap between city and country.

"I spoke to a woman at the conference who is a teacher and she showed her kids this video.

"Until you do something like this you don't realise it can be inspiring and that we are resilient."

Shot on the back of an old truck with their iPad, the video came with the usual production challenges faced with property living.

"We were about to hit play and daddy came along and started the tractor so we had to stay and sit there and wait 'til he was finished," Ruby said.

"You have to pull together as a family, to me it's a part of bush life."

Lily explained how her mother hit the wrong button at the wrong time and they had to start all over again.

Despite the light-hearted take on the drought, the past three years have been tough.

The property normally runs between 1600 and 1800 head of mainly Brahmans but has shrunk to half, with 400 at Luckham Station, and another 400 on agistment in Capella.

"We were really lucky with agistment. A few people from home in the last month have gone to agistment in New South Wales and that is just a huge freight bill."

Any money from stock sold goes towards feed and paying schools fees for older daughter, Molly, who is in boarding school in Townsville.

"Molly does feel it, particularly when we talk about bringing the cattle in to sell and says she wishes she was there to help," Kate said.

The younger girls have done some huge days in the paddock, mustering and getting cattle in for agistment.

"When my husband, Mark, has to go down and check the cattle on agistment at Capella and if I didn't have them at home, I would probably struggle a bit with jobs in the afternoon, like feeding.

"We're feeding horses, we're feeding weaners, we're feeding bulls, so we start our chores in the afternoon.

"You have to pull together as a family, to me it's a part of bush life."

On top of this, Kate teaches the girls through the Longreach School of Distance Education, and some days are easier than others.

"Some days you feel as though you have done a day's work before you even start school, particularly when you have to get up early and get animals fed, and get the weaners fed when Mark's away."

For the girls, it has been difficult seeing their pets sold because of the lack of feed.

"I came home and yelled at daddy because he sold it when I was away," Ruby said of her pet pig.

"And one time, Lily was away and we had to sell our poddy calf and I was standing out there, trying to pat him through the crate on the truck because he had to go."

Difficult for any parent to watch, and Kate looks sad as Ruby talks.

Can the girls remember when it last rained?

"Yes," shouted Ruby.

In January, the Bradshaws had over 63mm, which Kate said was their saviour and is now the screensaver on their computer.

They had just returned with a mob of cattle and saw a big black cloud, which they willed to be their cloud.

"That rain was the biggest fall in three-and-half years and it's just nice to know that it can still happen."

Hopefully, the Bradshaws will not have to keep their locks short and brown for too long.

"Mum, I liked it better when you had longer hair and it had more blonde in it," said Lily.

The story Of hope and hair first appeared on Queensland Country Life.


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