A been everywhere man...Stanthorpe's Austin Hohenhaus

BUSH BLOKE: Austin Hohenhaus has done his share of work in the paddock.
BUSH BLOKE: Austin Hohenhaus has done his share of work in the paddock. Toni Somes

HE IS the son of a dairy farmer and has been a cattleman, a wool grower, a livestock agent and a transport operator across a lifetime of hard yakka in the bush.

But Austin Hohenhaus reckons he gave away the finest job he ever had when he was just a "young fella".

"The best fun I ever had was mustering and stock work for a mate on the Goldfields area west of Stanthorpe," he said.

"I worked there casually from the middle 1980s and left when I was a young fella - I reckon I was about 77."

I worked there casually from the middle 1980s and left when I was a young fella - I reckon I was about 77.

He describes himself as a "1934 drop" rather than lingering on the fact this year he turns 80.

Born in Boonah, he was the son of dairy farmers from the Fassifern Valley, on the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range in south-east Queensland.

His grandfather had arrived in Australia from Prussia decades earlier.

In 1946 his parents shifted west, buying Springdale station - 2124 ha of grazing country at Marylands, outside Stanthorpe.

"I was 12 when we bought the place and shifted over the range and when I finished school I did a course at Gatton College and then came home to the property," Austin said.

He jokes about a preference for first names, explaining the title 'Mr Hohenhaus' conjured up formalities beyond a bushie like him.

"I was on Springdale for 30 years so not that long in the scheme of things, but it was a good life. We had some tough years, but we had some good times too."

His endurance was tested in years like 1957, when a bushfire swept through the property leaving just 44ha of feed.

"We had about 3000 merinos and 300 head of herefords and we had to find agistment for most of them," Austin said.

"Back then we grew wool and cattle we sold weaners at around 12 months of age to buyers from Victoria."

Family reasons forced Austin and his wife Del to sell up in the late 1970s and the couple headed into town.

"I always regretted having to sell, but you do what you have to don't you?" he said.

"After that I joined Winchcombe Carson as a stock agent and was with them for 10 years."

"It was a good job; took me to lots of places buying sheep in western Queensland and northern New South Wales."

Austin believes the wool slide started with the "awful drought" of 1965 and continues today.

"While I was an agent the change started in the cattle industry with a shift from herefords to angus cattle and they are still doing that too," he said.

After a decade in the agency game he hit the road in a self employed capacity driving a livestock truck.

"I drove a 25-foot Hino truck carting stock for 25 years; I went everywhere from Armidale to Glen Innes and all around Stanthorpe," he said.

"One of my longest jobs was carting Saanen milking goats from Gatton College all the way to Victoria," he said.

"My instructions were to feed and water the animals on the truck, so it was a little awkward and definitely messy.

"But they all made it there."

Looking back Austin reckons he still misses the truck, yet he admits "you get used to retirement".

However his all-time favourite job was casual work mustering and handling stock for a mate on a property in the Goldfields region.

"When you have a good time it never feels like work does it?" he said.

In retrospect there was not much he would change.

He's spent 58 years with the girl he fell in love with back in 1956 and he's "really proud" of his three kids.

"They've got their mum's brains so they are doing well and we have a few grandkids as well and right now we're expecting our first great grandchild so we're the lucky ones."

Topics:  landmark stanthorpe