The Last Post

March 20, 2019

And yet another drought.

Kilcowera and Zenonie Stations are relatively small compared to the vastness of the properties in northern Australia.  They are situated in a fairly arid landscape in the SW of Queensland.  I have heard it called Heartbreak Corner on more than one occasion.  But I’m guessing there are many other places in Australia with similar nicknames.  My husband has lived out here all his life and I have been here now for  nearly 40 years.

During that time we have seen a lot of dry years and have been drought declared 3 times.  Being officially in drought enables us to access some subsidies from either the state or federal government.  The only one we ever found useful was the interest subsidy which was scrapped many years ago.

Early February 2019 has seen many parts of northern Queensland awash with far too much rain, roads cut, towns cut off, dams and rivers raging and cattle and sheep starving to death or drowning.  Conversely large parts of QLD have not received any rain at all for months and months and months.  Here at Kilcowera we registered just 91 mms during 2018- this is our sixth very dry year in a row.  We have been destocking year after year, only keeping a couple of hundred young cows.  It sure is a land of drought and flooding rain.  And dust storms and fires and flies and ants. 

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A fat happy cow in the good times.

We, at the other end of Queensland made the decision to sell all our remaining stock at the beginning of 2019.  Well, actually we had decided in late November that if there was no rain, they would have to go.  So in 45 to 47 degree heat we were mustering and processing, watering and feeding the last of our cows and calves, putting them on trucks and sending them to the first and second sale of the new year at the Roma Saleyards.  The young cows were all still in good condition and we were relieved to see them off the place, with no rain in sight and still months of hot weather they would not have gotten through the rest of summer.  There is not a scrap of grass, hardly any burr left only the Mulga and it too is dying in places.

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So we’re hobby farmers now with only a handful of cows and calves left and one bull.  The cows are scratching around out in a paddock that got a storm about a month ago and we have hay and molasses for them, so they will do ok.  But it will take us a long time to be back in business again. If ever.

There are different ways to handle drought and what each individual primary producer decides to do must suit them, how they run their property, the type of stock they have and even the type of country they have.  How far they are from markets, how far it is to cart feed or water for their stock, do they have adequate Mulga?  To push the Mulga or not?  Droving is another option or agistment if there is any feed to be had.

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Feeding out some donated hay, unfortunately it was not very edible, even to our hungry stock.

As I sit here writing this, yet another dust storm has loomed up from the south, taking and bringing dust and sand, making the house filthy once more and choking the dying Mulga trees.  Just another nail in the coffin.  But my Hubby has found a new rainfall chart for the year and added it to the last 40.  Let’s all hope that we get a chance to make a few marks on it this year.  I think this blog has run its course and this will be the last post I put up.  We have a Facebook page for Kilcowera and a website with its own blog so you can still keep up to date with all that happens down on the station.  wwwkilcowera.com.au  Thanks to those who have commented on my posts over the years!  Cheers from Toni at Kilcowera.

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The worst summer ever?

December 17, 2018

BeFunky-collage

38 years.  It’s a long time isn’t it?  But it has gone by so quickly.  That’s how long I have lived here at Kilcowera.  In those years I have seen the countryside go through so many changes.  The most enduring of these is drought – living in this part of the world one expects it to be fairly dry.  Visitors come here and marvel at the endless blue skies, the clear starry nights and the perfect weather.  We would be happier with a few more rain events!

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A dust storm from the nineties – they are still the same.

My morning walks have become  extremely tedious as I pass by dead bushes and trees, picking my feet up over the corrugations, so much bull dust and the constant flies keeping pace with me.  The huge dust storms are smothering the trees.  The dust gets in everywhere, I just clean the house from the last one and the next one is upon us.  Sometimes we wake in the morning to find our world is just blanketed by a white haze – dust from way out west somewhere.  Thank goodness I have my little dogs who bring me such joy and delight.  They don’t care about the drought, they’re just happy!  Must keep looking at them!

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Cardenyabba Lagoon and our airstrips

It’s much better for me to remember things like seeing fish and yabbies swimming down the road and Cardenyabba Lagoon full of water and birdlife.  The abundance of wildflowers after winter rain, the shield shrimp in the claypans, the dewy, sticky carnivorous plants that grow on the margins of swamps. Full dams and fat, shiny cattle. Going for an early morning fly around the property and seeing water everywhere and green on the ground. The way this country bounces back after rain is astonishing, the variety of grasses and herbage that springs up is mind blowing and then the insects and frogs follow to take up residence once again.

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I’ve got to remember that there are occasions when I am not constantly moving hoses around, watering lawns, trees and gardens. And that we are not alone in this horrible drought – that there are tens of thousands of other farmers and graziers doing it just as tough as we are.  I’m lucky that I at least have plenty of bore water to keep most of my garden and lawn alive.  And keep looking at those happy little terriers of mine because they make me smile.  But summer is upon us and it’s a very dry outlook, the next few months without any rain will be devastating.  Happy Christmas.

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Lucy and Maisie in, on the Lagoon

 

Hmm, I thought I would share this post with you. It brings back many memories!

Kilcowera Station - Life on an outback Queensland Cattle Station

Me in the HJ47 a long time ago! Me in the HJ47 a long time ago!

When I first came to Kilcowera in 1980, Greg had a new yellow Hilux, his pride and joy, his Dad and Mum, (Toot and Clare) had a big old blue Fairlane (their pride and joy) and 2 station trayback Toyotas.  These were called Toot’s Toyota and Green door.  Vehicles had to have names of some sort so everyone new which one was being discussed.  As green door was the oldest it became our chariot. Those old Toyotas were so dependable and easy to fix if anything went wrong, they really didn’t know when to give up.

A few years went by and Green door was retired and a new vehicle was purchased from the Toyota dealership in Thargomindah which is owned by Greg’s sister and brother in law.  I’m looking at the purchase order here now: It was 1984, it was a…

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Was looking through old posts on my blog ( instead of writing new ones! ) And I thought wouldn’t it be nice if Lake Wyara looked like this again instead of the massive dry expanse that it is at the moment!

Kilcowera Station - Life on an outback Queensland Cattle Station

 
Taken from a Skyfox Gazelle
Kihee Creek running into Lake Wyara in South West Queensland

 

 Angela and I went for a fly on Anzac weekend after we did our little bit of mustering and she took about 400 photos.  She used her new Canon EOS 500 and my Panasonic DMC FZ50 which has a better Zoom lens than hers does.  At this stage.

Lake Wyara taken from the south, Kilcowera Station SW Queensland.

Lake Wyara  is a wetland of international significance and is part of Currawinya NP.  The wetlands on Currawinya are RAMSAR listed.

Lake Wyara in the foregrund and Lake Numalla in the background.

We were flying around in my little Skyfox Gazelle, it’s terrific for photography as you can have the doors open.  It was pretty cold though, Ang had the cameras firmly wrapped around her neck.

Pelican Rookery on Lake Wyara the eastern boundary of Kilcowera Station in Outback Australia.

And yes the Pelicans are back again.  They had a successful breeding event in 2008 but this year will be even better as they are isolated on islands.

Thousands of Pelicans are calling Lake Wyara home for the next few months as they bring up their chicks.Pelican Rookery on Lake Wyara, the eastern boundary of Kilcowera Station Outback Queensland.

 Pelican Rookery on Lake Wyara, the eastern boundary of Kilcowera Station.

The lake is not full but…

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July 14, 2017

And the second part all about our wonderful party line back in the 80’s.

Kilcowera Station - Life on an outback Queensland Cattle Station

Party line between Kilcowera Station and Zenonie, Outback Queensland.
Party line between Kilcowera Station and Zenonie, Outback Queensland.

 

Sometimes all this activity on the phone was a good thing.  If it rained anywhere over where the straggly little phone line went, the line would go out, if a little tree touched the line, it went out, sometimes the mulga post the line was attached to would fall over taking the line with it and it was said that if a bird flew over the line and did a poopsy the line went out.

So sometimes I would find myself swinging off the handle of the phone ringing, ringing trying to get the attention of the exchange ladies and they couldn’t hear me as the line was down somewhere. Usually someone along the line would eventually pick up and act as a relay between me and town and I would get my message across via a neighbour. 

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