For the fourth year in a row, the organisers of the Harry Redford Cattle Drive at Aramac have had to make the hard decision to cancel the iconic tourist and heritage event.
Thanks to the incessant drought in western Queensland, there remains not enough feed on the route for the drive to proceed.
Steering committee chairman, Gary Peoples, said the decision hadn’t been made lightly and had only come after extensive consultation with the boss drover, David Hay.
“As you may appreciate, this has been an extremely disappointing and difficult decision for the steering committee to make,” he said. “The primary reason for the cancellation sits with the welfare of the stock and horses and available feed on the stock route.”
It’s a familiar refrain for the committee, which had to make the hard decision to cancel the drive for the first time in 2015, with Barcaldine Regional Council mayor, Rob Chandler, saying at the time that carting hay to feed stock along the way wasn’t an option.
Some 85 per cent of Queensland remains drought declared at present.
While knowing Thursday’s announcement would be disappointing to many waiting to book for the 2018 ride, Gary said there was no-one more disappointed than the volunteers.
“It was a very hard decision to make, all options were looked at, but the drought has had the better of us,” he said.
As the region’s flagship event, many local businesses were looking forward to the welcome economic boost that the event would bring to the community.
Gary said the Drive committee sincerely regretted any inconvenience and disappointment caused by the cancellation, and thanked all past participants and people who wanted to go on the Drive, for their prayers for rain and well wishes.
The announcement has been taken well by readers on the Harry Redford Cattle Drive Facebook page, who have said “understand completely” and “wish we could send rain and good grass to the west”.