10 May 2023

Environment award for Cape York stalwarts

| Matt Nicholls
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Cook Shire Environmental Award recipients Tom and Sue Shephard with proud daughter Kerry Wakefield and grandchildren Derick and Kate.

PROTECTING the endangered golden-shouldered parrot was one of the key reasons for Tom and Sue Shephard winning Cook Shire’s Environment Award last Thursday.

The Shephards have dedicated their lives to raising children and cattle, all while caring for their country and protecting the highly endangered golden-shouldered parrot on Artemis Station.

With an estimated population of between 500 and 1000 birds, which includes approximately 150 breeding pairs, the Shephards also work closely with the Olkola Indigenous rangers, who call the parrot “Alwal” and recognise it as an important cultural totem for their clan.

This month, the state government announced that Artemis Station would become an official nature refuge, a class of private protected area under the state’s Nature Conservation Act which are administered by a legally binding conservation agreement between a landholder and the government.

“Our thing has always been to look after the country,” said Tom Shephard.

“We’ve lived on Artemis for most of our lives and we know it and care for it deeply.

“We’ve always tried to do things right, so our cattle business is viable but we’re also looking after the golden-shouldered parrot and other wildlife.

“So we’re very happy and grateful to the Queensland government for the chance to extend our conservation work.”

Together they undertake monitoring and vegetation control to help protect nests from predators and increase the chances of young parrots’ survival.

Other awards handed out at Cook Shire’s Australia Day celebrations included the Arts and Culture Award to the iconic Harrigan brothers and their Black Image Band, while Cooktown Amateur Swimming Club president Melissa Gunton was named the Volunteer of the Year.

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