Cattle in transit have become an increasingly valuable commodity to the Winton Shire Council in recent years, and a new loading ramp at the town’s saleyards is just one of the improvements taking place in response to that.
The $280,000 project, funded through the federal government’s Drought Community Program, was opened early in the new year and shire mayor, Gavin Baskett, said cattle “just roared on” when three road trains tested it out.
Other improvements include work on the overhead walkways, an extension to the washdown bay, and bitumen on the access road.
The council plans to put in shower facilities for drivers arriving late in the evening.
“We’re getting a lot more cattle resting there – that part of our business is going through the roof,” Cr Baskett explained.
“We want to make it as truck-friendly as possible.
“I think if you’ve got a good product, they’ll come and use it.”
The announcement follows news of the latest saleyard redevelopment at Blackall, where the Blackall-Tambo Regional Council is upgrading its weighbridge to deck size beneath a giant shade structure.
In March last year the AAM Investment Group announced it would be investing in its second saleyard complex in Queensland when it signed a 30-year lease agreement with the Longreach Regional Council.
Cr Baskett didn’t elaborate on how many cattle used the Winton facility, saying the number fluctuated year on year, thanks to drought.
The ramp consists of a double-decker facility and a concreted lead-up, project managed by Proway, using a local builder and concreter.
Cr Baskett, who spent 10 years driving trucks for Grants at Winton and Gleesons at Blackall, as well as time on a Toowoomba-Darwin run, said the old ramp had been in operation as long as he had been using the facility, 30 years ago.
“We would have had to invest in a new ramp soon anyway – the money gave us a good opportunity to do it, and have a friendlier place for people working stock there,” he said.
“It’s good for people to know they’ve got something safe to work in.”
He said the facility had passed WH&S and cattle handling safety inspections.