Veronica and Jim O'Shea, of Coominya, with their Red Gum Murray Grey herd. Photo: Ali Kuchel
Veronica and Jim O'Shea, of Coominya, with their Red Gum Murray Grey herd. Photo: Ali Kuchel

Miracle cow travels 95+km in 2011 floods, alive to tell tail

After losing their entire stud herd in the devastating 2011 floods, a Coominya couple received an unexpected call from an animal pound 95km away in Brisbane - "We have one of your cows".

 

The call was about Red Gum Danette, a Murray Grey cow from Coominya, that was swept up in raging flood waters that floated her more than 100km from her paddock to Luggage Point on Brisbane's northside.

It's the one animal that remained for stud cattle breeder Veronica O'Shea after the perilous 2011 floods, and today, Danette continues to kick about - literally - in her Coominya paddocks.

When Veronica and her husband Jim were forced to evacuate, their horses and Murray Grey herd were left close to the house.

But because people were evacuating on the roads, it wasn't safe to open the gates for the cattle and horses.

"We got to our friends place at 10.30pm, thinking we would go back in the morning and open the gates, but we couldn't get back, the road had washed out."

Red Gum Danette, the Murray Grey cow belonging to Veronica O'Shea, was washed away from her Coominya paddock in the 2011 floods, only to be discovered and rescued in Brisbane's northside days later.
Red Gum Danette, the Murray Grey cow belonging to Veronica O'Shea, was washed away from her Coominya paddock in the 2011 floods, only to be discovered and rescued in Brisbane's northside days later.

 

It was two days before the O'Shea's returned home.

A friend's horse was found at the school, and was treated by a vet, but they lost their horses and cattle.

But two days later, a glimmer of hope when Veronica received a call from a pound on Brisbane's northside, saying they had a cow that belonged to them.

"They said someone must have stolen her," Veronica laughed.

"Luckily she had her NLIS tag and they could trace the property where she came from."

Red Gum Danette being rescued in the 2011 floods near Brisbane – 95km from her Coominya home.
Red Gum Danette being rescued in the 2011 floods near Brisbane – 95km from her Coominya home.

 

Veronica had no idea which cow it was as the records had been damaged in the flood, but they went to Brisbane to collect their one-and-only surviving cow.

It's 95km by road from the O'Sheas to where they collected Danette, and Veronica estimates it's longer by river.

"She was so cranky, she was letting fly at everything, charging and kicking," Veronica said.

"We walked in and because Jim normally feeds her it was like she heard his voice and said, 'thank god you're here'."

The former Ekka exhibitor was quick to load on the float and return home.

Veronica O’Shea (Nutley) with
Veronica O’Shea (Nutley) with "Redgum Danette," her Murray Grey Heafer. Danette the miracle cow floated 95km – from Patrick Estate to Pinkenba in the recent floods. Pic Mark Cranitch.

 

"She's always been the matriarch, she was the boss," Veronica said.

"Not so much now that she's gotten older, but don't stand between her and her food."

As a registered stud beef cow, and at 12-and-a-half years old, Danette was due for retirement, to live out her days at the O'Shea's farm.

But the cheeky Murray Grey had other ideas.

"This year we weren't going to breed her, and the bull we won Brisbane (Ekka) with was here … she had other ideas," Veronica said.

Looking back at the floods 10 years ago, Veronica found it humorous that the council called to say their cow was stolen.

Red Gum Danette in the flood waters from 2011.
Red Gum Danette in the flood waters from 2011.

 

"We didn't know which cow it was either, all they could say it was a cow with a tag, because all the records were in the house," she said.

With just one cow to their name, the Murray Grey society stepped in to help, and three breeders donated a cow each to rebuild the O'Shea's herd.

"When you go back to one cow, it's like 'forget it, it's too hard'," Veronica said.

"But they wanted us to stay in the industry."

Since the floods, the O'Shea's have gone on to win numerous accolades at the Brisbane Ekka, and in 2018 won supreme Murray Grey exhibit with their bull Red Gum Nightcap.



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