It’s almost 12 months since mustering contractor, Tom Craig, lost not only his stock crate, all his possessions and nearly his life after his truck caught fire, but now he is back on the road.
Tom was working in the Augathella district and was heading to Chinchilla for the Queensland state polocrosse championships when his life turned upside down on the side of the road near Muckadilla.
He had travelled as far as Amby and stayed with night with great polocrosse mates, Damien and Kylie Gould.
The following morning he loaded two of their horses along with two of his own in the stock crate to continue onto the polocrosse carnival.
Tom said he got 15 kilometres down the road, and one kilometre from Muckadilla, when the living area of the stock crate on the back of his truck caught on fire, due to an electrical fault.
“A tourist travelling behind me called me up on the two-way and said mate there is smoke coming out the top of truck, it’s on fire,” Tom said.
“I really didn’t believe him until I looked into the rear vision mirror and it was billowing out.”
“I just hit the brakes and got out and opened the side of the crate and jumped the horses out leaving them loose on the side of the road.
“However, everything else I owned in the truck, including saddles and equipment, was destroyed.
“I was actually in shock, and tried to get some possessions out of the truck but luckily I was pulled back by a passer-by,” Tom said.
“As I live in the truck there was about $30,000 worth of gear in there.”
With help from others he got his horses under control, while firefighters from Amby and Mitchell helped extinguish the blaze, which had started a grass fire.
Tom and his horses finally made it to the state championships and he played on borrowed gear.
“The highlight was, I played for Tambo and we won the B grade division,” he quipped.
The generosity of his mates blew him away.
“Damien and Kylie organised a charity auction over the weekend and that raised $22,000, which paid to replace some of my belongings.
“I did salvage the cabin, and the insurance replaced the stock crate and living quarters.”
Tom collected his new crate only last week and could not wipe the smile of joy from his face.
“I cannot thank all the people who donated for the auction, as well those who built the crate, Damien and Kylie, along with Warwick and Kylie Murmane from Chuck Wagons, who assisted with the re-fit.”
Tom is now based in Roma district and is contract mustering in the Wandoan and Taroom districts, and again living in the comfort of his truck.