Lake Wyara’s water birds.

January 26, 2009

10,000 odd pelicans call Lake Wyara home in 2008.
10,000 odd pelicans call Lake Wyara home in 2008.


In the first half of 2008 there were approximately 10,000 pelicans breeding on the western shore of Lake Wyara.  It was a magic sight and sound and smell to stand out there seeing all those pelicans that had come all this way from the coast to breed.  In the 28 years that I have been here it is only the second time that I have seen them breeding on Lake Wyara.  They could have been there at other times though. 


They kinda snuck up on me this time as I did not think there was enough water in the lake for anything much to be happening there.  Then out of the blue a journalist rings me up and asked “ How’s your pelicans going?”

 Says I “No pelicans here mate”. 

Journo “Well the National park ranger reckons there’s about ten thousand on Lake Wyara.”  “Hmm, I’ll ring you back tomorrow when I check it out.”  So a quick fly out over the lake confirmed this amazing news.  Here’s some pictures.


Pelican Rookery on the western side of Lake Wyara at Kilcowera Station, outback Queensland.

 Greg and National Parks are currently working on a new boundary fence that will keep stock out of the park and enable us to use our 70,000 acre Lake paddock again. We have had no stock in it for 5 years as a part of the old boundary fence was pushed down for a road to the lake from the Currawinya side.  This little guy just came right up to us to check us out and then waddled off to his mates. 




Baby pelican at Kilcowera Station Outback Australia.

 In 1991 National Parks and Wildlife took over the grazing property Currawinya, our eastern neighbour.   They also took Lake Wyara a 6000 ha salt lake classified as Vacant Crown Land which was our eastern boundary and physically on Kilcowera.


When Lake Wyara is full it’s a beautiful blue saline expanse of wetland that supports enormous numbers of birds, fish, turtles, crustaceans and sea grasses.  It is filled by 5 big creeks, 3 of which start and end on Kilcowera, Benanga, Youlaingee and Kihi creeks.  The lake has been listed by RAMSAR as a wetland of international significance.


Lake Wyara is a RAMSAR listed wetland of International significance.


Lake Wyara had some water in it in 2008, this picture taken from the north and at 1500 feet.


We have an interesting scenic drive which is a 60 km round trip out through our Lake paddock.  It goes over the highest country on Kilcowera and offers great views of Lake Wyara and the creeks.  The lake has been pretty much dry for about 4 years now but surely it will fill again soon.


Kilcowera has many different types of vegetation and land types, ranging from dunes to gibber plains, out around the lake is sort of like channel country with small dunes.

Pink Eared Ducks, Lake Wyara, Kilcowera Station - Outback Australia

The image above shows Pink Eared Ducks on one of the creeks that flow into Lake Wyara.  We see some interesting birds out there not seen around the Homestead, like the gibber bird  and orange chat.  Of course when the lake is full it is teeming with water birds. These beautiful birds below are Red Necked Avocets.  To be continued………….


Red Necked Avocet, Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland.

Changes Part 3

January 9, 2009

The Meat House at Kilcowera Station shearers quarters Outback Queensland
The Meat House at Kilcowera Station shearers quarters Outback Queensland

There is a cute little building at the quarters – it’s the meat house, one third of the walls are made of fly wire and it has a high sloping roof to help with air circulation.  It had a bench inside, a chopping block, a long bar going from one side to the other where the meat was hung and a kerosene fridge. We lived mainly on sheep back then as the only refrigeration we had was the kero fridge, one smallish gas fridge and a gas freezer.  The sheep would be shorn, usually by Greg, he would then take it to the killing block, cut its throat, hang it up and butcher it.  The sheep would then be hung in the meat house overnight to “set”.  Right at the beginning we didn’t have a bandsaw so he would cut the whole thing up with a meat hatchet and knife which was pretty ordinary as you got bone splinters all through the meat.  We also used an old hand mincer attached to a table.  After a couple of years we purchased a bandsaw that made the job a whole lot easier.


Once, maybe twice a year, we would kill a medium size beast – always in winter as we did not have enough freezer space to store it and we’d share it with his Mum and Dad.  Some of the meat was salted and wrapped up in hessian bags and hung in the meat house for a month or so until we had enough room in the freezer for it.

Brunonia Australis - Cornflower - Kilcowera Station -Outback Australia


We always had to vigilant about keeping dust and fluff away from the naked flames of the fridges and freezer so they wouldn’t set fire to the place and also had to check constantly that the little flames had not blown out.  And heaven forbid don’t run out of gas or kero! Our roads were pretty ordinary back then so we always had extras in case we got rained in.


It took a long time for the multi cultural experience in the food department to make its presence felt out here.  Capsicums, avocados and zucchinis were pretty much unheard of and treated with great suspicion if found.  One was extremely lucky if one could get cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce at the local shop as they did not stock many cause most people ate a hot meal 3 times a day.  And don’t dare give a bloke a salad at night time.  You would be accused of dishing up rabbit food and shirking your duties.  A quote often heard when dishing up a musterers’ meal “No veg mate”.


Major Mitchell's Cockatoo - a common bird on Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland


This beautiful Major Mitchell Cockatoo was photographed by Peter Strutt at Kilcowera’s, Cardenyabba Lagoon. 


Wagon wheel at Kilcowera Station
Wagon wheel at Kilcowera Station


We raised a clutch of chickens under that old stove too, about a dozen eggs sat underneath in the warmth and we turned them every couple of hours, 24 hours a day.  I was so pleased that we had managed to make more chooks without having to buy them!  Except it turned out that 80% were roosters.  One thing led to another and I then learned how to chop roosters heads off and pluck them.  I found it wasn’t too gruesome if you didn’t think too hard about what you were doing and did the job quickly.  And they did taste good!


Our little chickens, raised under the old wood stove at Kilcowera Station


I had a gas iron that just got hotter and hotter.  After burning several shirts it seemed to me that the work clothes did not need ironing, the good trousers got folded just so and put between the mattress and the base of the bed until one needed them and shirts – if you hung them up straight off the line they looked good enough to wear for me. So that was one hated job off my list.


To be continued………