Don’t Knock the Weather!

December 13, 2008

We don’t get a lot of rain, Kilcowera is supposed to have an average of 10 inches or 250 mls per year but we have not achieved that lofty figure this century.  Instead we are in our eighth year of drought.  It would be nice for a change to say that we are in our eighth good season!

 

My husband Greg is out on the motorbike checking to see where the rain fell, if it ran into any dams, ran any creeks, if there was more or less rain on different parts of the property.  We have several rain gauges around the place.

 

Dam filling - Outback Queensland - Kilcowera Station - Farm Stay

Dam filling - Outback Queensland - Kilcowera Station - Farm Stay

 

People say farmers, cockies and graziers are always whinging about the weather but it plays such a crucial part in our day to day lives.

 

 Last year just after our general muster I had to tell a potential visitor to the place that he could not use our main airstrips near the house as they were closed due to the drought. The red sandy soil of the airstrips was so dry and fragile that planes would likely get bogged in it and certainly not be able to get enough pace up to take off.  I had been using them during our muster and there were some wild variations of a straight take off roll as I tried to keep the plane on the harder ground to get up to speed!

 

Dust storm approaching Kilcowera airstrips.

Dust storm approaching Kilcowera airstrips.

 

All of our local roads are dirt or gravel, if we get 20 ml the local council is likely to close roads in our area causing travelers to be stranded in places that they get sick of quickly.  The council don’t ring up the landholders and tell them the road is closed though, so it has happened that we might decide to go to town for supplies only to get there and see a sign on the town end of our road saying ROAD CLOSED!  Thems the breaks!

 

If there has been lots of rain we stay home and don’t use the roads unnecessarily as we don’t like to cut them up with all the wheel tracks.  Our roads are only graded occasionally so if we mess them up we have plenty of time to repent.  That’s most of us -there is a certain neighbour or two who seem to have a burning desire to hit town straight after it rains!

 

Last year some of our roads were closed due to bull dust.  When it is so dry for so long we have to think about destocking which leads to much more action on the roads from the monster road trains taking sheep and cattle away to sale, agistment, the abattoir or another property.

Loading cattle at Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland

Loading cattle at Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland

 

It’s an awesome sight to see these big trucks thundering along our outback roads sending up billowing clouds of dust.  Pretty crook if your stuck behind one too.  But when they are on the dirt roads constantly they break through the top surface of the road and create large patches of bull dust which just get worse and worse until the road gets a liberal application of water.  Send her down Huey!

 

We got a distress call on the UHF radio a few years ago from a truckie who was bogged in bull dust on the Hamilton Gate road near the New South Wales border.

 

I was up in the plane mustering when this strange voice came on the radio saying “truck driver to the pilot on channel 39”.  So we had a little chat and I was able to call another station closer to where he was and ask the owner of that place to send a grader out to pull old mate out of the bull dust.

 

Road train on the Dowling Track, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland

Road train on the Dowling Track, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland

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