A herd of young cattle can count themselves lucky after they were saved by local farmers from a rock ledge on the Shoalhaven River.
The dairy heifers found themselves marooned upon a rock at Wogamia and were fortunately spotted by people in a passing boat on Monday.
Geoff Cochrane and his son Daniel, who own the property on the opposite side of the river, were part of the risky rescue mission.
The confused land dwellers were almost 500 metres up stream from the nearest access point and had been marooned for close to 24 hours by the time the rescue was under way.
“The owner of the cattle arrived with a canoe and four of us went across the river, we nearly got swamped by the waves, we were fearful for our lives,” Mr Cochrane laughed.
“We paddled across, the cliffs were so steep there was no way in the world you could have driven an animal up there. They would have scrambled onto the rock ledge, where they barely had standing room.”
The group decided the only way to save them was to swim them across the river to the Cochrane’s property and truck them home.
“We pushed them into the river and they immediately tried to swim around and come back,” Mr Cochrane said.
“We kept pushing them in and when they got in the water all they wanted to do was mill around in a circle anti-clockwise. They came ashore maybe 20 or 30 yards further down so we had to start again.”
It was then that Mr Cochrane began to muster the 18 head using the canoe and oar, a stark contrast to the usual horse and stock whip he was most accustomed to.
“As we got a few back in the water I jumped in the canoe to try and herd them across and stop them from coming back and Daniel dived in the water behind them,” he said.
“They were being swept down the river by the current and our efforts to get them across the river were failing, so we went with the flow. Dan was nipping at their heels and barking behind them and I was in the canoe directing traffic.
“After about an hour we got them down the river, we headed for the sand and they all got out of the water.”
It is suspected the cattle were chased into the water by dogs.
“The afternoon before I heard a dog barking for a long time,” Mr Cochrane said.
“I believe that dog more than likely chased the cattle along the sand until they came to the rock cliffs and were forced into the river.”