A Far West New South Wales grazier has been left shocked and frustrated after being turned away at the South Australian border with his son and a truckload of sheep.

Key points:

  • The grazier’s son was deemed a “non-essential” traveller despite his dad double-checked their permits when they tried to cross the border
  • The 10-year-old had helped his dad prepare the sheep for transport and was extremely disappointed when they were turned away
  • Wes Herring says the journey cost his family time, money and caused a huge amount of stress

Wes Herring, who runs Gum Park Station, 100 kilometres north of Broken Hill, was travelling with his non-verbal, autistic 10-year-old son when he was turned back at Oodla Wirra on Monday afternoon.

Despite having a livestock permit, Essential Traveller (ET) numbers for himself and his son, proof of vaccination, and verbal confirmation from SA Police, authorities deemed his son non-essential.

“We had the ET number for Angus and we double-checked with SA Police and got an email on Sunday night to make sure Angus’s ET number was all good,” Mr Herring said.

A farmer wearing a hat and his young son in a selfie-style shot.

Mr Herring said SA Police were unsympathetic when he and his son were were refused entry.(Supplied: Wes Herring)

Denied entry at border

Mr Herring was transporting a truck full of pregnant ewes for agistment in SA and had planned to bring other stock back for another grazier.

“We’d been organising stock to go on agistment due to no rain and declining feed due to the weather conditions,” he said.

“I was forced to turn around and get my wife to drive from the property into Broken Hill, which she had already been to get our groceries that day.”

After travelling more than 360 kilometres from the station to the border checkpoint, Mr Herring was forced to turn around and unload the sheep in Broken Hill.

“Due to regulations, they couldn’t have a drink — they could have a feed, but went 36 hours without water, which is not particularly good for lactating ewes,” he said.

‘Busted his rear end helping’

Mr Herring said the ordeal put enormous stress on his family.

“It’s a flow-on effect,” he said.

“Not only did it cost me time, but 560km in the truck you don’t do for nothing — so there’s approximately 350 litres of fuel.

“My wife [drove] in and out of Broken Hill twice, so there’s another 400km there, plus.

Mr Herring’s son, Angus, was devastated he could not help his dad finish the job they worked on together during the stormy weather on the weekend.

“For the last two days on the entire weekend of that awful weather that we had he busted his rear end helping me draft and drench and needle sheep and mark lambs … it’s what he lives for,” Mr Herring said.

“As much as Angus is not verbal, he’s not stupid — but we had to tell him a lie that the truck had broken down.

A young boy hangs on to the side of a livestock truck.

Mr Herring said there was no way he could tell Angus the truth about why they were turned back.(Supplied: Wes Herring)

Late last month, the SA border was unexpectedly opened to Broken Hill, reinstating a border bubble with the community before it was abruptly closed one week later.

“From the moment [the police officer] opened his mouth it was clear there was going to be an issue, and there was,” Mr Herring said.

Mr Herring made another attempt to cross the border without Angus and was allowed through.

He said police at Oodla Wirra were surprised to hear of his previously unsuccessful attempt and could not work out why he was turned away when he had appropriate travel approval.

Restrictions still in place

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said Mr Herring was refused entry solely because his son was not an essential traveller.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened — I understand the difficulties that person experienced,” Commissioner Stevens said.

The SA border is expected to open to vaccinated NSW and Victorian residents on November 23, provided they are from a local government area with an 80 per cent double vaccination rate and where no community transmission of COVID-19 has occurred.

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Grazier with truckload of sheep forced to lie to autistic son after shock border denial
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