Kerry Black has twice hit straying livestock on the night drive from her Wilson’s Creek home. “This is not an adequate fence,” she says.
Kerry Black has twice hit straying livestock on the night drive from her Wilson’s Creek home. “This is not an adequate fence,” she says.

Getting to work a nightmare

For the past few months, every time Wilson’s Creek local Kerry Black gets in the car to drive into town, she starts shaking, and frequently bursts into tears – and all because of straying cattle along the flat of Wilsons Creek Road and Myocum Road.

Kerry has been working the 3am to noon shift at Sunnybrand Chickens for the past three years, and that means a lot of driving in the dark.

Her troubles began one night last July, when, slowing down for a cow and calf on the road at 2.30am and going around to avoid them, she hit another one in a knot of eight all standing on the road.

Her car was damaged, as was her knee, but her husband fixed the car, the hospital fixed her knee though not her shakes, and she was back at work the next day.

But the shock was still quite fresh in her mind when, another night, a young bull ran out of a driveway and collided with her car.

“The only thing that stopped the bull coming through my windscreen was the fact that my bonnet was still damaged from the first bull,” said Kerry, “so the bonnet just creased up and held the bull. I feel certain this saved my life, as I was going 75 to 80km/h.”

Kerry was understandably completely distraught at the rewind of the nightmare and police coming out to the scene called an ambulance to take her to hospital.

But Kerry’s husband, arriving at the scene, was unable to stay with his wife to comfort her, as the police had to ask him to go home and get his .22 rifle to put the bull down because their gun wasn’t adequate for the task.

Kerry is working hard to get over the trauma of what happened to her on those two dark nights, but adding to her worries is the fact that nothing has changed at the scenes of the accidents, and her plea to Byron Shire Council to make farmers responsible for the condition of their fences has so far had no response, despite assurances in a reply to her complaint that fixing fences had ‘high priority.’

“When cattle are located on roads, cattle owners are requested to check and repair all breakages in fences,” the letter states, yet Kerry can point to fences where this has clearly not happened.

There is even one broken down fence on Wilson’s Creek Road where cattle are kept that is just star pickets and saggy wire, something that does not come anywhere near meeting the basic minimum requirements.

“I have cattle myself,” explained Kerry, “so I know what the rules are.”

Now Kerry is wondering what it will take for the council to take action on this issue.

“Do we have to wait until someone dies before the problem is addressed?” she asked.

Although Kerry has had to have time off work, and it has cost to have her car repaired, it is not monetary compensation she is after.

“I just want the fences fixed,” she said.

“Now my kids have grown up and left home, they are frequently back visiting – I don’t want to have to bury them.”

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