Sweat, dust, and the smell of 2,500-odd cattle aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for lawyer Alexandra Long, the combination has a special kind of magic.
Alexandra Long was a cattle musterer before she was a lawyer. In fact, she worked in the cattle industry while she chipped away at her law degree by correspondence through the University of New England. By day, she’d spend up to 12 hours in the saddle, herding as many as 2,500 cattle up to 20km at a time. By night, she’d read textbooks, sort through reams of print-outs, and chip away at her essays. There was no Wi-Fi at the camps, so everything had to be meticulously organised.
Long’s love affair with the cattle industry began when she was 19, after she finished her higher school certificate as a boarder at Abbotsleigh girls’ school in the upper north shore region of Sydney and spent a year travelling abroad. She heard about an opportunity to spend 12 months working on a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory. Having grown up on a property at Gunnedah, in rural NSW, she seized the opportunity to try something different, spend some time outdoors, and work with horses.
Within a few months, Long found herself living at Newcastle Waters Station, a property spanning more than 1 million acres about 400km from Katherine, that breeds Brahman cattle. The physicality of the place, the beauty of the endless plains, and the satisfaction of a job well done got under her skin.