Women stars of the muster

IT is an event with plenty of tradition going back more than 40 years.

The Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria annual gathering will be held over three days from January 11 to 13.

It will be held at Licola in Gippsland and this year recognises women who helped settle the high country.

About 80 women will take part in a “pink ride” in support of the McGrath Foundation.

The two-day ride over 40 kilometres will follow old stock routes.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment has helped with planning it.

The riders will arrive at the festival site on January 11.

One of the organisers, Mark Coleman, said yesterday a big contingent of supporters from the North East would attend.

“It is a great family tradition,” Mr Coleman said.

The annual gatherings began in the late 1960s after increased pressure to terminate the annual high plains cattle leases.

The present Victoria government promised before being elected in 2010 that it would allow cattle back into the Alpine National Park.

It then allowed a six-year trial to see whether cattle grazing could reduce the incident of bushfires.

But the federal Environment Minister Tony Burke then intervened and banned alpine grazing in the high country.

More than 3000 people are expected to attend this month’s gathering, with a pioneer parade the highlight.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh will open the festival and the association’s president Charlie Lovick will be one of the speakers.

“The long-standing cattlemen’s event has the reputation of being family friendly with many attractions including the dog high jump, woodchopping, poetry competition and live bands on three nights,” Mr Coleman said.

“This year’s event is situated near Licola in the McAlister River valley with good camping and access.”

The gathering last year was held at Merrijig, near Mansfield.

It has already been allocated to the Benambra-Omeo region next year.

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