BUSHMAN Mick Davis is no stranger to having the stars as a ceiling. He's worn his share of outback dust.
He's been a drover, a rough rider and a showman in a life's journey which has taken him from Tamworth to the Territory.
Never one for skiting, Mick (he reckons he's never had much need for formalities like Mister) says he's simply made the most of every opportunity.
Before the trucks came in, we use to walk cattle for miles from places like Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Grafton back to the meatworks in Casino.
But there is room for a little boasting, considering way back in 1959 he won the buckjump event at the first Mount Isa rodeo.
"There were more than a 100 riders from all the stations around the place, so it was a pretty big thing for a 23-year-old from the Northern Rivers," Mick explained.
Arguably though, it wasn't his most impressive feat.
In 1963 he won an Australasian championship buckle in the buckjump in an event held at the Sydney Royal Show.
"I made 800 pounds from that win, which was like a fortune back in those days," Mick said.
It was a fair achievement for the young bloke who hailed from near Casino and grew up on a dairy farm.
"My dad was a stockman and a dairy farmer and we rode horses to school," he explained.
"Actually we rode a horse to school - there were three of us on one horse.
"I was the second oldest."
After school, and when he wasn't competing at rodeos across the country, he worked as a drover and a stockman.
"Before the trucks came in, we use to walk cattle for miles from places like Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Grafton back to the meatworks in Casino.
"And during the dry times, we walked them along the stock routes to keep them alive."
The biggest mob he ever handled was during a stint in the Northern Territory when he and a team of stockmen walked 1500 head of bullocks from Victoria River Downs into the Channel Country.
As a drover he relied heavily on working dogs and used a combination of Kelpies and Border Collies.
And despite his ability as a horseman, he reckons he could never have got the job done without his dogs.
"I have always had dogs. They're good company even when you're not working," Mick said.
These days he's taking life a bit easier and divides his time between his property at Coolatai and his other home, the open road.
At 77, it seems he is still slightly nomadic and spends most of his time travelling to working cattle dog trials across the country.
This year competing will take him as far north as Mt Surprise, inland from Townsville in the state's north, and back to familiar country around Tamworth.
"I use to travel around the shows with racing ducks for a while but I sold them earlier this year - after Tenterfield Show as a matter of fact," he explained. "And I've also done a bit with trotters over the years. I do like working with animals."
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