Young Lukas Dynon-Garner doesn’t much like sitting at a school desk but put him in a paddock with animals, and watch him get to work, literally leading the way with adults standing back in awe of this kid’s confidence amongst flocks of camels with legs as long as he is tall. Whether he’s riding motorbikes or working with animals large and small, Lukas is an inspiring lad to be around.
While at Silverton Outback Camels recently, we came across 12-year-old, Lukas – grandson of Silverton artist, John Dynon – getting in amongst camels in their enclosure to pull out those trained to ride, assertively guiding them to the waiting area, hooshing them to sit, saddling them up, signing up customers, helping them to jump on, and then leading the camel train of six with confidence, with owner/operator, Petah Devine nearby for support.
“Lukas came out here about four months ago and jumped straight in,” Petah told the Truth. “He listened and learned quickly, and now it’s like he’s been out here for years. He’s a great help around the farm with all the animals, but he’s especially good with the camels and they’re good with him – probably because he respects them.”
We took a walk alongside Lukas while he sat back to enjoy a camel ride after leading the first camel train of customers for the day, quickly confessing the school classroom is his least favourite place to be.
“I’m having some trouble with school because it’s hard to sit in a classroom all day. I’d rather be riding my motorbike mustering, or out here with the animals,” he told us.
“Pop’s pretty good with a paintbrush, and I can paint pretty good, but I probably couldn’t sit for long doing art either, but I’d like to run pop’s gallery for him one day.”
“My nan, who was his girlfriend, once bought him a set of paints – then Jack Absalom saw his first painting and encouraged him to paint more, so he did. I’d love to be like pop. He’s so talented.
“He encourages me to give everything a go, so here I am working with camels and next weekend I’m off to muster sheep and cows on a property up on the dog fence.”
When asked how he felt when he first started working around the camels, Lukas confessed he was pretty nervous.
“If you show animals you’re nervous, then they’ll know. You have to be calm around them, don’t be silly or loud because they’re bigger and stronger. Just go steady and enjoy them. I love the pigs, the water buffalo, and Toto the emu, he’s my favourite.”
Lukas understands learning to read, write, and do maths is important for future work opportunities but encourages other young people to spend time at the camel farm to learn skills instead of being bored and getting into trouble.
“When you first come out here, you might be a bit nervous because you’ve heard bad things about camels, but the animals are really good for your mental health,” he said.
“It’s good for me coming out here and getting around animals instead of being in town, staring at screens, getting bored, getting up to mischief. I don’t want to get in trouble. I just want to do what’s best for me, and being around the animals and outdoors is best for my mental health, so I’d say to anyone who struggles with school who wants to listen and learn some good skills to check out the camel farm.
“My family taught me manners and to respect people and to be nice to old people, so I’ll keep working because I like listening and learning, just not always in a classroom.”