CLANCY OVERELL | Editor | CONTACT
The Gilchrist family, owners of Lake Betoota Cattle Station, say they haven’t had to have the flying doctor land on their property since 1997.
That was back when one of the cousins visiting from Port Douglas got bitten by a snake that turned out it to be a legless lizard.
Since then, touch wood, they haven’t really needed to utilise the gravel air strip in the centre of their 100,000 acre patch of the Diamantina.
It’s not because they don’t still hire the same reckless brand of at risk city kids as ringers, and it’s not because station life has gotten any less dangerous.
It’s because with these new roads the council put in, it’s now only an hour and half drive to Betoota Base Hospital. Which means, when someone comes off a horse, it’s usually a better option to fang it into town than to clog up the flying doctor.
It’s for this reason, the air strip has now sat unused for close to twenty years, according to the family matriarch Cheryl Gilchrist.
“And by unused… I mean unused by aeroplanes” she says with a sigh.
“Every few months I see a whole heap of dust out that way. That’s when I know the young fellas have taken the fencing rig for a spin”
As is right of passage for any kids from the coast who find themselves surrounding by wide open spaces for the first time, the rural Australian past time of driving a Landcruiser as fast as you can on an air strip is still alive at Lake Betoota Cattle Company.
However, Cheryl says this stupid behaviour is something that she will never be okay with.
“I’ve told them I’ll turn a blind eye as long as no one has been drinking”
“And if they can’t follow those simple rules, then I’ll be putting locks back on the cool room doors”
“But seriously. These idiots are going the right way about making sure a plane actually needs to land on that runway”