Longreach livestock carrier, David Bielenberg, Longreach Transport Company, recalls that 25 years ago he was one of 11 road train businesses fighting to cart sheep in the district.
“Today, it is just me and a couple of local producers who will contract cart for others,” Mr Bielenburg said.
“As well, there were sheep carriers in nearby Winton, Barcaldine and Blackall, but not anymore.”
Mr Bielenberg said the whole transport business model in the Central-West had changed for a number of reasons.
Firstly sheep are too dear, and the numbers are not in this district, but those who have them are trying to breed them up,” he said.
Another point Mr Bielenburg raised was that the majority sheep and cattle that are sold in the district through AuctionsPlus, and the onus is on the buyer to arrange the transport.
However, he said the effects of the live cattle export ban in 2012 had a devastating affect on his business.
“First of all, the producers in this district were coming out of drought, so everyone was already understocked,” he said.
“Then the ban hit and as the prices were driven now, and those who had stock sat on them, hoping prices would return, but the drought hit instead.
Since 2013, Mr Bielenburg diversified and started carrying gravel and water under contract to Shire Councils.
“It was a case of getting into survival mode,” he said.
“It was during that time we could contract cart water and gravel for the local Shire Councils, but now they are allowed to cart their own.”
He said while there is still some local business left in collecting cattle from properties who have sold to feedlots, the job is only a local run to the saleyards where stock is sold delivered over the scales. Again the feedlot takes over the delivery, as in most cases feedlots run their own trucks for delivery.
Mr Bielenburg said central-western producers have had it tough for so long.
“Really we all are just poking along and we need a good season to get ahead,” he said.
“What really beats all of us is the cost of registration.
“If the bureaucrats really wanted to help all business, the registration would be included and paid with your fuel,” he said.
“The cost of tyres and fuel are not a problem as these are only consumed when you are working and on the road, and if rego fees were included at the pump, instead of paying a standard annual fee, we all would benefit.”