“That’s Henry, Pablo, Noodle, Neville, Teddy, Paddington, Humphrey, Wallace, Archie…” says farmer Shane Hancock, pointing around a paddock of his Pine Mountain Farm.
It turns out that a long career in teaching – he is also deputy principal at Leichhardt State School – has given him a knack for remembering names, which is handy when you’re also in charge of Queensland’s largest herd of llamas.
He knows all 75 by name – the boys in this paddock and the girls, currently separated in another. And their connections to one another (…’that’s Lola, Chloe and Louie’s Mum…’).
So just how does a city-raised Queensland teacher end up with a sizeable llama herd, and why?
Well, it began in Brisbane when schoolboy Shane had a natural love of animals growing up.
“Mum and Dad swear they bought the wrong kid home from the hospital,” he chuckles.
So he had always been around animals, a point that landed him the role of being in charge of a llama herd when he applied to work at a summer school in the US.
“I had never worked with llamas before and I fell in love and so I knew that one day I’d end up with llamas of my own. It’s been a passion now for more than 25 years,” he said.
It wasn’t until six years ago that Shane was finally able to buy his first llama and begin building his herd at the Pine Mountain farm he owns with partner Darren.
They have also acquired in that time five donkeys, four miniature ponies, 24 peacocks and various other fowl, and two beautiful Maremma dogs to look after the poultry.
As we’re leaving the boys’ paddock, Shane points to a young Llama and exclaims, ‘Oh and that’s Chandler.’
“I asked Terri (Irwin) to name him and she said Bob wanted to call him Chandler after Bindi’s boyfriend (now fiancé).
Shane became friends with the Irwin family through his work for several years as an ambassador at their Australia Zoo.
The Llama Farm, which borders the upper reaches of the Brisbane River, is currently open for group tours by appointment and visitors are able to walk with a llama on a custom-built trail.