How a blind man is taming one of Australia’s best kept secrets
By Cindy Lever
Posted earlier today at 5:00amSat 31 Aug 2019, 5:00am Photo: Max says his camels are his best friends. (Supplied: DromeDairy Body + Skin) Related Story: Feral camel ‘plague’ sees pastoralists shoot 2,500 camels in a monthRelated Story: From feral to family: Why Australians are adopting camels as household pets
Imagine coming face-to-face with a freshly captured, two-metre-tall spitting camel and attempting to put a rope around its neck.
Western Australian man Dr Max Bergmann does this for a living, even though he is legally blind.
Retinitis pigmentosa robbed Max of all but 2-3 per cent of his peripheral vision, but not his passion for farming and agriculture.
After hearing about the plight of Australia’s wild camel population, he began researching the benefits of camels and their milk.
Three years on, Max, his wife Ronja, his children — Maya, 3, and Tim, 20 months — and guide dog Forest, milk 40 camels on their 280-hectare property in the Perth Hills for their camel milk skin care brand.
Max uses a unique, trust-based training method taught by Tara Lea and Russell Osborne from Camel Connection at Lakes Entrance in Victoria, which enables him to take a camel from the wild, and within two days have a lead on it. By four months, he’s milking it.
“I don’t think too much about these things [blindness] I just wanted to do it,” Max says.
“I soon learnt I could handle them better than a sighted person because I moved differently. I am not afraid of them. If you don’t fear them, they react differently.”