Episode 7 video transcript


CATHERINE: So we're airborne from Shute Harbour,

passing 600 feet.

There cannot be a better view that greets a pilot

after you do leave Shute Harbour.

It's just spectacular.

And we're making our way out towards Proserpine

and then we will head down towards Mackay

and eventually on to Rockhampton.

But there's a couple of issues with weather, isn't there, Catherine?

CATHERINE: Look at the low cloud around at the moment

and look at the increasing cloud down in that direction.

We've taken the weather forecast, as we always do,

and noticed that there's a forecast for thunderstorms on the ranges

just to the west of Rockhampton,

and that will be bringing some showers

with reduced visibility and low cloud

into the Rockhampton area during the afternoon.

So we're carrying some extra fuel in case we need to hold outside.

We're also going to touch down in Mackay

and reassess the weather on our way there,

and if we deem that we need to take some extra fuel

to allow us the possibility of returning to Mackay

should the weather really be bad in Rockhampton,

then we'll take on that extra fuel at Mackay.

We've got a plan A, a B and a C at this stage.

A is we go straight in, B is we go towards Rockhampton

and need to hold for anything up to 30 minutes,

and C is that we decide to take on extra fuel in Mackay

because we think there's a serious chance

that we might need to turn round and come all the way back to Mackay.

-OK. Good set of options.


CATHERINE: Proserpine traffic.

Echo Delta Sierra, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot is overhead at this time.

Left turn before Mackay, tracking outbound 1-3-0,

and maintaining 2,500.

Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, Proserpine.

PETE: Catherine has constantly been checking the weather

on the way in to Rocky.

She's decided to make a fuel stop in Mackay

on the off chance we have to return to Mackay.

Alright, we've just left Mackay,

heading for Rockhampton.

Well, the weather in Rocky has been marginal.

There's INTERs out for visibility at 3,000 metres.

I mean, the conditions are acceptable

but there are intermittent periods of unacceptable weather,

so it's those intermittent periods

that we need to be really careful about.

So Catherine has just been monitoring those

to make sure that conditions are, well, acceptable

for us to land in Rockhampton.


Oh, here we go - there's a first splash of rain on the windscreen.

We haven't seen that the whole trip really.

CATHERINE: Rather hoping for a free wash.

(LAUGHS) There you go. Alright.

This is exactly the weather that was forecast.

But it forecast light showers,

but not reducing the visibility.

-That's the base forecast.


CATHERINE: 10km of visibility and light showers of rain.


-That's exactly what we've had.

The INTERs were for heavier rain, moderate rain,

but the visibility reducing to 3,000 feet.

We haven't had that yet.

And by the looks of things, we won't.

PETE: Excellent. OK.

PETE: OK, we've got a big road.

CATHERINE: Yeah, so we're coming up to Yaamba.

Yeah. Ready for your call...

OK, and you can see Rockhampton ahead of us there.

-I can, yes.


PETE: Beautiful.

MAN ON RADIO: Charlie Yankee Foxtrot, runway 1-5, cleared to land.

CATHERINE: Cleared to land 1-5, Charlie Yankee Foxtrot.

PETE: We're coming in to Rockhampton

and we're going to meet a very interesting man,

Cameron Parker, who has a very new approach to mustering.


Now, I wouldn't know the first thing

about mustering 10 or 50 or let alone 2,000 head of cattle.

I mean, I've seen how they do it

using quads and motorbikes and horses and helicopters,

but I'm about to drive into a property

on the outskirts of Rockhampton.

It's owned by a heli-musterer,

and what he's doing to round up his cattle

is a whole new approach.

And I've got a feeling this method is going to catch on.

Cameron, beautiful property you've got here. How big is it?

Mate, 900 acres here,

and we're just 10 minutes out of Rockhampton.

-It's a great spot.


How many head of cattle have you got?

CAMERON: We've got 200 here. We run 200 here, and 30 horses.

And the other property we've got two hours away

is about 14,000 acres, and we've got 1,100 up there.

PETE: You're a chopper pilot.

How long have you had your licence for?

CAMERON: Mate, 16 years, 17 years.

The helicopter industry has grown since I started.

Probably in the central Queensland area, when I first started,

there was only maybe three or four helicopters.

Now there's probably 20 or more, mustering helicopters.

PETE: Tell me about this heli-mustering.

This sounds pretty hair-raising, to be honest.

CAMERON: It seems to people that what we do does look hair-raising.

They hear the odd story of people getting killed and what have you.

-You know, we get our licences.


CAMERON: So you've done 105 hours.

You do another 100 hours to get your mustering endorsement

and then you're right to go and work for somebody.

Once you get your licence, that's only the start of it.

You really know nothing, you know?

-It's just...

-It's all experience.

It's all experience, and it still happens 17 years later -

I'm still learning little things.

So you're changing tack now.

You're starting to use the drones, aren't you, for mustering?

-Tell me about that.

-We are, Pete.

I've been into the drones for 12 months now,

and we're just looking at them for a cheaper option.

And helicopters are getting very expensive to run.

With the drone,

the first time the cattle see it

they...they don't work with it very well at all.

They'll just...it'll fly up to them and they'll just scatter.

-They'll get a fright.

-PETE: It freaks them out.

CAMERON: And you think you'll be able to fly around and block them,

but you can't.

So it's something that when we introduce the drone to the cattle,

we put them in a holding paddock, what we call, or a big arena,

and we teach the cattle to block up with it, stop with it,

same as what people have done with horses and motorbikes for years.

PETE: How does it actually work?

So you've got the drone up, there's all your cattle.

What's the approach to make this work effectively?

CAMERON: What we're doing with this

is exactly what we do with the helicopters.

There's an assessment all the time of where they're mentally at.

-PETE: Yeah, exactly.

-CAMERON: It's the same as people.

Where are you at mentally and physically?

So, OK, they can hear it, they've got to make a decision.

It's just like your mind.

Their mind, they've heard it, one of their senses.

So see how they're not... they're trying to find?

They're trying to find what the release is,

so they're running into pressure.

See? They've run into their own pressure.

OK, now they've found it. It's there.

"What have we got to do? We've got to move this way.

"Oh, righto."

PETE: So as soon as they hear that, they're looking to you.

CAMERON: Yeah, well, I've trained them to do that.

So we're developing that thinking frame of mind all the time.

There's no threat.

So you can take these cattle anywhere. Anywhere.

PETE: That's so effective, that, isn't it?

CAMERON: Yeah, I shift my cattle with the drone

and work my cattle with the drone,

and that helps us when we move them up to our other property,

because they got mustered with helicopters up there,

and the drones are getting them used to the helicopter, so to speak.

But I think as we go along, Pete.

the technology is going to get so good with the drones

that I think a lot of people are going to be using them for mustering.

And how far off do you think we are?

Is it imminent that those technological advances

are going to happen, and then it's just going to be game on?

I think so, Pete. I don't think it's far away.

Like, since I've started with them for 12 months,

the technology has gotten us out further with the drones,

the battery life's lasting longer.

Everything's getting more and more advanced.

They've got GPSes in them that will plot a course

to go and check waters for people.

It's going to be used for checking fences,

it's going to be used for mustering cattle.

So do you see a problem with people using drones

who don't know how to use them?

Yeah, just because you're private and out on a property

and you're not going to be, you know, doing commercial work,

doesn't mean to say it's not dangerous, you know?

There's a lot of people getting them, there's a lot of people flying them.

It's OK for me because I'm a helicopter pilot,

so I know the seriousness of the drones.

So I don't fly them high.

And it doesn't matter if you're here or you're out west somewhere,

there's still helicopters and planes going through.

And, I mean, the drones I've got can go 2km away, so that's 2km high.

People that buy drones need to have training.

And, I mean, it doesn't matter whether you're around Rockhampton

or you're way out west somewhere.

There's always aircraft passing through.

I think already I heard of a guy

that shot one out of the sky the other day.

It was flying over his property, so he blew it out with a shotgun.


And I think that's probably the start of it.

-Because it's OK out here, Pete.

-Yeah, yeah.

But in town and the littler smaller acreages,

it's a problem.

Shot it out of the sky? People are getting serious, aren't they?

Yeah, I mean, if someone was flying over your house

or your animals were disturbed,

probably what people out here are going to do.

No, absolutely, yeah.

So people might be using them as toys at the moment,

but, as you say, when the technological advances kick in,

it's going to explode, yeah?


-Property owners will be using them.

-They'll be everywhere one day.


You're also a bit of a croc wrangler on that thing, aren't you, sometimes?

(LAUGHS) We see crocs along the river here, Pete, yeah.



Oh, they're 40 metres long.

(LAUGHS) They'll be 50 metres next year.

Thanks heaps, Cameron. Appreciate your time, mate.

No worries, Pete.

What an outstanding character Cameron is.

(LAUGHS) His discussion about cattle behaviour and human behaviour

and how similar they are and how that helps him muster cattle

is...that was all left field for me, that's for sure.

But I've learnt a lot.

I'm not going to forget today for a long time, that is for sure.

What do you reckon about the drones? Reckon they're going to catch on?

I think there's a pretty good chance, actually.

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