Abstract: The arid climate of central Australia has provided a continuous habitat and livelihood for Aboriginal people for over 40 000 years. A unique understanding of the environment allowed them to live in a difficult and harsh climate. For about 130 years the settler pastoral industry has both prospered and battled to survive in central Australia. Settlement of the central Australian region came from the south and the east with both beef and sheep being driven from South Australia and Queensland. Vegetation types, the harsh climate and the native dingoes contributed to the predominance of cattle as the more suitable stock for the region. The continuous operation of grazing enterprises has helped to develop inland and northern Australia and to shape the social fabric of the area. Today cattle production is the major primary industry in central Australia and occurs on stations with areas measured in square kilometres rather than hectares, due to their extensive size. The average property in the region is 3885 square km and carries approximately 6000 head, which graze the native pastures of the arid zone. The survival of the stock, and production system based on them, is intimately linked to the region’s climate. There are 64 cattle enterprises in central Australia, predominantly family owned businesses, as opposed to the large corporate companies found in northern Australia.1 The ownership of properties in central Australia is relatively stable; the average length of tenure is 25 years, and approximately half of the stations are owner/operator enterprises. While new technologies have helped to reduce the level of physical labouring required on stations, a ready workforce is still required to keep the enterprise operating. The average station in the central Australian region employs three permanent staff, and an additional three seasonal staff are employed during busy times.
Notes: scroll to pg. 40