When the State Government banned cattle grazing in the Alpine National Park in 2005, it was a bitter pill to swallow for mountain cattleman Charlie Lovick and his wife Glenda. Since the late nineteenth century their forebears had been leading cattle across the rugged and picturesque Victorian high-country until, suddenly, it was deemed that the environmental impact of their annual trek was no longer sustainable.
Whilst facing an adversary such as the Victorian State Government on an environmental war path would be enough for most to accept defeat, a brief look at the fabled Lovick family history shows that concession is not in their DNA. According to legend, Charlie’s uncle Frank guided a herd of cattle down a near-vertical, snow-laden gully in darkness, and his father Jack once rode his horse across the hair-thin Crosscut Saw Ridge.
Acts like these have enshrined the Lovick name in folklore in these wild parts of Victoria’s north, so much so that it seems like a natural progression that their story would eventually inspire an iconic Australian film. As Glenda explains, “In 1976 or ’77 we did a documentary for the Victorian Government about a trail ride from Merrijig through to The Bogong. It was a 20-day trail ride that we filmed and documented and that became the beginning of The Man From Snowy River.”
Both Charlie and Glenda were indispensable to the making of the Australian classic. Glenda as the ‘Second Unit Coordinator’ and Charlie as the prestigious ‘Master of Horse’. Charlie taught lead actor Tom Burlinson to ride for the movie and has been called on since to instruct other stars, including Sigrid Thornton, Eric Bana and Kirk Douglas.
This brush with fame, however, was a happy distraction from their main business. Prior to The Man from Snowy River bringing their name to a wider audience, the Lovick’s had established themselves as successful and esteemed proprietors of an adventure tour company. Today, they offer everything from cattle drives, to weekend trail rides, to bush weddings, which allow people from all walks of life to experience the values and traditions of mountain cattleman.
Naturally, the spotlight has followed Charlie to this venture as well. He is one of the Top 20 Victorian Identities for Visit Victoria, was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2009, is regularly featured in the media and is the president of the Mountain Cattleman’s Association of Victoria.
It has been in this last role that Charlie has devoted countless hours to lobbying the government to re-instate their right to graze cattle in the Alpine National Park since 2005. With more at stake than his pride, Charlie has been an outspoken advocate of the environmental benefits of cattle grazing in the highlands for almost 10 years, but until last month, his pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
In March 2014, federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt announced that Victoria’s Alpine National Park would be re-opened for a grazing trial. Once again, a Lovick had prevailed against all odds. The mountain cattleman were going home.
Charlie Lovick was Affinity Insurance Brokers’ first equine client. We have been proudly representing Charlie for over 25 years.
For more information on the Lovicks, visit www.lovicks.com.au