I suppose this personal journey actually began back in the mid 60’s. That’s when my uncle Carl Moss suggested to his neighbor, Bob Neuman, that they pick up and move to Australia; where it was rumored that a man could run ten thousand cows on hundreds of thousands of acres for the same price that they were running just hundreds on small lots of ground.
My uncle, I suppose, never expected Bob to take the ball and run as fast as he did. But Bob Neuman did! In 1969, Bob took the risk and moved his wife and 5 children to Northam, Western Australia. Bob and his family began a lifetime of hard work, entrepreneurship, and great horsemanship and breeding; in building the largest herd of AQHA bred horses in Western Australia. He started with three studs, which he shipped over from Montana: Two AQHA studs; one buckskin named Rumble Babe, and one bay named Spec Deck Leo, and one Appaloosa stud named Kadet High Win. Over the course of the next 48 years, Bob Neuman and his children became the largest breeders of quality AQHA horses in Western Australia.
Right around 1976, after moving our family from the Moss Ranch in Montana, my Dad, Howard Moss, ordered in two different Catahoula Leopard cowdogs through Bob in Australia and had them shipped to our new ranch in Washington State. Over the next two to three years, Dad planned to once again move our family – to Australia – and work with the Neuman family. At first, the whole idea scared me and I simply wanted to return home – to Montana. But, as my Dad told me more about how life would be more like “the olden days”, where we could work more with our horses and learn to be better cattlemen, and raise more cattle on more land; I started to dream about going to Australia and even became excited about the whole venture. However, my Mom was not excited and did not want to be separated from her folks, nor give up being American. So, she convinced her parents to sell her family’s ranch, the Grazier Ranch, to my Dad. And alas, we never made that leap across the ocean. But I never quit dreaming….
Fast forward through a lifetime of school, college, rodeo, marriage, children, a bout with kidney cancer, then divorce. Life had brought me, then in my late 40’s, to a crossroad. I knew in my heart that with all that had happened – my circumstances were ripe to make a trip of a lifetime to that place I’d been dreaming of – Australia! I had graduated high school with Bob’s son, Bill Smith; and was still in touch with him via Facebook. I started at least three times to write him a message, but would always chicken out. Finally, I mustered up the courage and told him what my dream was and asked if he could help me with the connections to get there. Not only did he say he could help, but his sister (Bob’s daughter) Sedly Gibbs from Gingin, jumped on board and welcomed me into their circle, giving me a place to stay while in Australia! In fact, I’ve also received incredible support from my own friends and family every step of the way! Sedly has been amazing. She suggested the best time to visit and made plans to include me on their “Northern Run“, a yearly trip their family makes with six horses up through the Pilbara Region, competing in Camp Drafting events. Although I had never met her face-to-face; had never even heard her voice; I knew that this woman, the woman that I would’ve grown up with had my Dad followed through and moved us, would be an instant friend. So, I sold everything I had – cattle, horses, horse trailer, etc – and bought my tickets 6 months in advance and made plans to leave on an adventure of a lifetime.
I hit the ground running upon arrival; going with her to her work at a feedlot, where they processed cattle going to far-off places like Qatar and Malaysia. I also got to sit down with her whole family, including Bob Neuman, and listen to stories about my uncle Carl and my Dad that I’d never heard before.
Then, we packed up and headed out for the “Northern Run”. Starting from Gingin, we have made our way to Newman, in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia. Bob’s daughter, husband, and family are accomplished Camp Drafters, winning many titles over the years on her family’s horses.
For the next two weeks we toured the Pilbara, and she and her family competed in the sport of Camp Drafting in Newman, Tom Price, and Pannawonica. Sedly and her husband Drew put me on their best horses and entered me in the events as well! I had never experienced such a thrill and am now hooked on the Australian sport of Camp Drafting!
I will be staying in Western Australia until mid October, and I’m looking forward to sharing the sights, sounds and experiences with our friends in the Cowboy Lifestyle Network of the wildly interesting and unique world of Western Australia
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