“Growing up on a station in New Zealand, I always knew I wanted a career on the land. And for many years I pursued this”. From the snow capped mountains and the crystal clear snow fed lakes of Mount Cook, she packed up her working dogs and moved to the vast, flat, drought stricken planes of Hay NSW to experience farming the Australian way.
While jillarooing at Uardry, Alice broke her leg. “My farming career came to a grinding halt. Still wanting to stay involved in agriculture I applied for many jobs with companies like Elders, Landmark, and CRT, with no success.
In the midst of a recession Alice was picked up by Pfizer Animal Health and asked to move back to New Zealand for a sales job, of which she had no experience in, and reluctantly left Australia.
Five years with Pfizer in both New Zealand and Australia saw Alice develop business skills that she would take with her no matter where her career path lead. Successfully picking up two Sapphire awards in NZ and Rep of the year in Australia Alice grew hungry for a new challenge.
“With the foresight to see that the path I was going down was cornering me with a very specific set of skills I decided to re-educate myself and change direction.”
Alice set about studying photography and journalism.
The task of resigning from a job that, to most people from the outside seems too good to be true, is a lot harder than one thinks. “A car, fuel card, phone, computer, good salary, job security, travel, on farm activity and the ability to be creative in the way you run your territory- why would you leave? Especially when you are going to nothing,” remarked Alice.
On her first day of unemployment, Alice caught up with one of the mobs of Brinkworth cattle that were heading south on the 2000km journey to Hay, NSW.
'I thought I would be there for a day, drive along taking some photos, maybe have a cup of tea with them and go home again. But I quickly found myself thrown on a horse and following a mob of 2000 cattle down a dusty road. I ended up joining them for five months.’
Running her book idea past the boss drover, Bill, to get approval, he warned her that dealing with the other mobs would not be a walk in the park. 'Just because I slotted into his camp with ease wouldn't necessarily mean the other camps would be as welcoming' said Alice.
Not to be deterred, Alice admitted some of the drovers were pretty tough to develop a rapport with. 'They are so use to working on their own and when strangers come along they usually stop to complain about something. Holding them up on the road, eating their grass, drinking their water etc. Always happy to pitch in and get her hands dirty it wasn't long before all the drovers warmed up to Alice and her camera.
'Being on a horse or a motor bike with them day in and day out, got Alice to key places to really capture the reality of a drovers lifestyle-married to 2000 cattle on the road in trying conditions.
‘I spent time with all nine mobs on and off over the five months to put together a book on the epic trip'.
With no idea how to design a book and after doing lots of research Alice knew she didn’t want her book to look like any other. She wanted something fresh and unique. 'I wanted to bring as much of the ‘atmosphere’ of droving into the story. I didn’t want to dress it up or dress it down. It is what it is. Droving.' said the now first time author.
“To be honest I can't quite believe I have self published a 200 page hard cover coffee table book” said Alice. But that is exactly what this vibrant young lady has done. “My business name is Al Mabin Photography; most people assume Al is a bloke. It’s always a laugh when you hear the change in their voice on the phone or see the whites in their eyes when they find out it was a woman that went on the trip” said Alice.
People thought I would never last out there.
If you would like to order a copy of this book please contact Alice on 0499 559 399 or visit her website. The book retails for $59.99 and is $10 postage anywhere in Australia.