Pioneering Pastoralists - the Hayes family
Jimmy Hayes, born in Alice Springs in 1945, is a fourth generation Territorian. His great grandfather came to the Territory bringing the steel poles for the Overland Telegraph Line. His family remains closely tied to the land although times have changed and his family history reflects those changes – from horses to helicopters!
Jimmy recalled, as a child, going out with the Aboriginal women from the station to collect bush tucker:
Members of the family worked on the stations and knowledge was passed through generations. Jimmy married young, Gail Ride, and their first son, Richie was born in 1965. Talking about his own children, Jimmy said:
In the bush you need many skills and you need to be able to diversify. Richie, like his father Jimmy a generation earlier, went away from the station to learn new skills, but always returned. Richie recalled:
When I first left school in 1980 I did an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic in Alice Springs. I did four years of that. I did a little bit of time extra to that, say, five years away, and then I went home, ’84 or ’85, I can’t remember… Doing an apprenticeship, that was something I was interested in, being a mechanic or whatever, but once that was over, it was pretty much go home… Apprenticeship. I used to go home on weekends and work on the station… I’ve changed my career quite a bit too with leaving station life so much and going into the grape game.
The family broadened its interest in the land including horticulture as well as pastoral concerns. Jimmy and Richie explained that the reasons for the strength of the family holdings, was also, in a way, the driving force behind the expansion. More land was needed to support the new generation and a different economic base and changing technology:
As the family’s expanded … Undoolya couldn’t support, we were battling to support… Dad had three sons working at home and something had to give. Either the boys split up, go and do something else or, and we were all interested in the land, so we bought another station. There’s a lot of money in buying a station. There’s a lot of money in building grape farms… we went with the grape farm…
See things have changed from horses where we’re mustering with horses back to quad bikes or on very rare occasions we’ve even put a helicopter in for convenience.
The Hayes family remains on the land, an ongoing part of Central Australian history.
[Northern Territory Archives Service NTRS 3163, BWF 40, Jimmy and Ritchie Hayes]