From the red dirt to WA’s south

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Tom ZaunmayrThe West Australian
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Pyramid Station manager Glenn Connell out on the land. Pic by Cameron Myles / Pilbara News. .
Camera IconPyramid Station manager Glenn Connell out on the land. Pic by Cameron Myles / Pilbara News. . Credit: WA News

One of the Pilbara’s most recognisable and colourful former residents has relocated to WA’s south to manage New Norcia cattle and hay farm Mirridong.

Glenn Connell lived in the Pilbara for the best part of half century but called time on his life in the red dirt earlier this year and moved south.

The cattleman was never one to shy away from the spotlight during his 43 years up north — his short shorts, “flanno”, boots and big hat made him a local legend, while his penchant for chewing people’s ears off left those who had met him usually with a unique story to tell.

For 23 years the historic Pyramid Station was his home, a place of many tales to which the Connell family has added plenty more.

But the cattleman moved hundreds of kilometres south to New Norcia earlier this year to be closer to his wife and two daughters.

Emma and Catherine Connell enjoying themselves at Dampier beach.
Camera IconEmma and Catherine Connell enjoying themselves at Dampier beach.

As the new manager at Mirridong, Mr Connell is responsible for 800 Angus cattle owned by GP Mackie business owner Peter Mackie.

While still pastoral, its a different ball game to what he was used to in the Pilbara, adding hay and an upcoming bull breeding program into the mix.

“What is different, where do you even start, it’s all different but a good challenge,” Mr Connell said.

“Getting the cows quiet, that’s one thing that is the same.”

During his time in the Pilbara, Mr Connell was one of the region’s biggest advocates for acknowledgement of its long pastoral history.

He had a room full of historic artefacts found on his many ventures out and around Pyramid Station and a head full ofstories from former pastoralists and early settlers’ ancestors who had taken the time to stop by.

Pyramid Station manager Glenn Connell. INSET: Glenn Connell and his donkey in the local barrel race at the Robe River Rodeo in Pannawonica.
Camera IconPyramid Station manager Glenn Connell. INSET: Glenn Connell and his donkey in the local barrel race at the Robe River Rodeo in Pannawonica. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

The stories may be lost with Mr Connell’s departure, but he said the artefacts would remain boxed up to be donated to whoever “gets their s.... together” and builds a museum in Roebourne.

“I’ve seen it (the Pilbara) change a lot since 1974 from being a kid riding out on the train to Samson jetty, to Karratha which was just a shopping centre and the development of Bulgarra, ” he said.

“I used to drive through Karratha and I would always say ‘one day, there will be traffic lights here’. There were a few predictions I made way back then which actually have turned out right.”

Mr Connell said the move to New Norcia would bring his family back together again.

“I’ve been out here three years by myself and the girls have been in town,” he said.

“I never thought I’d leave the Pilbara — you hear people say all the time, ‘the red dust gets in your blood’.”

Pyramid station manager Glenn Connell and his trusty dog Ginger.
Camera IconPyramid station manager Glenn Connell and his trusty dog Ginger. Credit: WA News

Mr Connell won’t be without some of his Pilbara comforts — his legendary hat will still be on his head and he says while he has no idea how he will do it yet, his

extensive horn collection will be moving with him too.

Sheila the donkey, the one he rode at the Pannawonica Rodeo, has also gone along for the ride as well as Sheila’s best mate, a pet cow named Butterfly.

The current managers at nearby Mallina Station have moved to Pyramid Station homestead to begin writing a new chapter in the Pyramid Station’s 152-year-old story.

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