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Stockman's Akubra hat

Skilled horsemen and women

Across the rangelands of northern and central Australia, local Aboriginal peoples became highly skilled horsemen and women who excelled at handling stock. Many stations relied on their labour, until Aboriginal people secured equal wages during the 1960s and helicopters and road trains began from the 1970s to reduce the need for mounted drovers. Today, many northern Australian Aboriginal communities own and run pastoral enterprises.

Akubra hat worn by Bruce Breaden.
Akubra hat worn by Bruce Breaden, 1990s. National Museum of Australia. Photo: Sam Birch.

Bruce Breadon

Born on Tempe Downs station in central Australia, Luritja man Bruce Breaden worked as a ringer (stockman) across the Northern Territory. As part of a droving team, Breaden would have moved cattle over long distances from property to property, and to markets and meatworks. Together with a ‘boss drover’ and apprentices called 'jackaroos' and 'jillaroos', 'ringers', worked with horses and dogs to move hundreds of animals about 13 kilometres a day between sources of feed and water.

Bruce Breaden and his horse, about 2004.
Bruce Breaden and his horse, about 2004. Photo: Central Land Council.
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