When a mob of yearling Angus cattle go under the hammer in Dubbo next week it will be the culmination of a 3000km journey that started in the Northern Territory.
The 500 well-bred yearlings left behind the drought-affected Tieyon Station at Kulgera on the border of the NT and South Australian border in May and found a new home on agistment at the Leigo family's Dungarvan property on the Cuttaburra flood plains near Bourke.
Last year 450 older steers were agisted at Boulia in Queensland and when Mr Smith heard about the Bourke-based agistment, they sent the cattle down off the back of the recommendation from David Amor of Amor Livestock and Rural Marketing.
He had every confidence the cattle would do well when he heard they would be grazing on the same species of feed that grew on their 650,000 hectare station.
"Like most people we have had a shocking two to three years so this year in round one we sold weaners straight off their mothers and most went down into South Australia and the ones that were left over, because they were too small, picked up agistment near Bourke," Mr Smith said.
"It's been over a month since I've last seen them but in that month they have been on the best of what was available on the Cuttaburra on clover but almost anything would have been better than staying at home."
A team of at least five people, including Mr Smith and his father, will muster the cattle on bikes along with aerial support and truck at least 400 to 450 to the Dubbo saleyards for sales on Thursday and Friday. The station traditionally turned off grass-fed Jap Ox steers straight to slaughter but they had none of that inventory left.
Mr Smith said they had high hopes for the sale.
"A lot is riding on this because this will be the major income we will have for the next 12 months," he said. "We hope it doesn't scare people off because we have got all our eggs in one basket.
The Leigo family had been battling drought themselves and sent many of their stock to Condobolin before the season turned this year.
"An opportunity presented earlier in the year with the lack of stock on the property," marketing agent David Amor said.
"With the cost of stock early in the year, when it got very expensive, and for minimal risk it was thought they might as well look to agistment."
He said such well-bred Angus cattle may not be what people would expect from the Northern Territory. But Angus bulls were first brought onto Tieyon Station in 1925.
Now the Smiths have a genetic focus on positive fat and low milk figures so their cattle survive the conditions in central Australia.
"You'll find it's predominantly British bred around Alice Springs because we don't have the seasonal conditions that require a high Brahman content like the north," Mr Smith said.
He said part of doing business in central Australia was looking over their shoulder for the next run of drought.
"There has been some rain and it has put some green pick on the country but certainly from Alice Springs to Marla and other parts of central Australia they are still going through a terrible drought," he said.
"The BOM is still quite positive about more cyclones than normal in the north and it's going to be a wetter summer than average for right throughout central Australia and the south west corner but nothing is guaranteed."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.