Wedge Tailed Eagle - Photo by Peter Strutt

Wedge Tailed Eagle - Photo by Peter Strutt

 

A bit more on catalogues…….  Then there were the electrical and white goods catalogues.   Very drool worthy too.  Specialist lingerie ones and those for all things babyish, then along came wine and alcohol catalogues, office supplies, jewelry, Avon, shoes and RM Williams ones (too expensive!!!!!)

My silliest purchase was an expensive ring from Magnamail.  I ordered this diamond ring from a picture, paid up front and waited about 5 months before I received it.  Really thought that I had done my dough. When I did get the ring I was very happy with it though.   Thinking back, all I can say in my defense was that I hadn’t had a shopping splurge for a very long time. And I do love jewelry! 

But that’s not all, then there were the blokes catalogues.  Have you ever seen a bull catalogue?  The pages are strewn with cows and bulls backsides and bulls testicles.  Impressive stuff!!  Then there’s the machinery trader full of dozers, graders, trucks and bits and pieces that lift or push, dig or plough, water or cut something.

 

 Greg especially likes the camping, fishing, 4WD type of catalogues, poor bugger he doesn’t get away much to use our camping gear.  Our last big trip was maybe 5 years ago when we had a good look around WA.  He also likes tool and power tool catalogues, I try to make note of what especially interests him in these for future present giving.  Blokes are so hard to buy a pressie for – I mean you can’t give him a shirt or belt or socks – too boring.  But it’s gotta be something he lusts after.  I draw the line at a $7000 welder though .  I did buy him a Lindsell hoist one birthday cause his back isn’t as good as it used to be.  The doctor told him he should   reassess his capabilities after G strained some back muscles while lifting batteries out of his dozer.

 

Other super interesting ones he gets are water tank catalogues.  I tell you the makers of poly ethylene tanks have really branched out.  Did you know that you can have a dog kennel made out of poly ethylene?  Or a water dish? A calfateria?  Yes –  they make tanks and troughs and poly pipe and poly pegs and things for chook food and water, bins, garden edging, pools, tool boxes and wheel chocks? AMAZING!!!!!

 

We also get a newspaper free each month and it’s basically a catalogue for aeroplanes and all things pertaining to.  Lincott Linen have a catalogue full of work clothes, boots, coats, blankets, sheets, mattress covers, socks and singlets.  I buy our mattress covers there still and Greg’s special woolen socks. We’ve got an old windmill catalogue too.  They are all there to tempt us and then there’s the internet – the window to the world.

 

 Sunset at Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia

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Hereford cattle at Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station.
Hereford cattle at Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station.

Another interesting person we had here was Letterbox.  A very capable man, a big burly bloke, very smart and a top musterer.  He had a little weakness though which sometimes prevented him from turning up for the job.  If he wasn’t here on time you just knew that he wasn’t coming.

 

When he first started coming out and doing a few days mustering for us we thought we had really struck it lucky with Letterbox as he was so good at the job and he and Greg got along really well.  After he’d been here awhile he took it upon himself to look after the grass around the shearers’ quarters where he bunked down.  We would often hear “I’ll just slip down and move the sprinklers around the quarters” What a diligent man! A gem!  Or it was “I’ll move the sprinklers in the sheep yard or the cattle yard”  Righto Letterbox!

 

Well it transpired that L was a fairly thirsty sort of a fellow who was mightily fond of what he called his green frogs – cans of VB and he just needed a few to get through the day – and he did move the sprinklers too.

 

One Melbourne Cup day we were bringing a mob of cattle in to the yard and still had 5 or 6 kms to go before the race, I had resigned myself to not seeing it and was a bit glum.  I love the champions of the turf and horse racing.  Looking around at the mob of cattle I saw that Letterbox was nowhere to be seen.  “Huh, b*st*rds gone off to move the sprinklers, I’ll bet!” flashed through my brain.  About a half hour later he returned with a couple of green frogs for everyone and a radio so we could hear the race that stops a nation out in the middle of the paddock.  What a good man!

Moving cattle on Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland

 

 

Sunrise over Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.
Sunrise over Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

 

 

 When we first married and I came to live here we made our own electricity, had a third world phone,  not much money, no credit cards (nobody trusted them), no internet, a once weekly mail service and I was also the new kid on the block with a pair of in laws to try and win over.  

We had to live quite a frugal lifestyle as the family had to go into debt to buy Kilcowera and understandably wanted to pay it off asap.

So there just wasn’t the money to spend on luxuries, holidays or even former pursuits of Greg’s like playing polo. His horses were now just used for mustering.

 

The other women on nearby stations were considerably older than me but offered me friendship and advice and an avenue for plant, vegetable, egg and magazine swapping which saved  money and gave me a sense of belonging to this very cliquey new world I found myself  in.

 

We would often receive catalogues in our mail.  Oh, how I used to drool over the Myer Direct one!  It used to have everthing in it – clothes through to homewares and furniture. Well about 10 years ago Ezibuy took it over and Myer had nothing to do with it any more, I was pretty disgusted about that.  (Sshh, Ezibuy is a NZ company).  I still buy the odd thing out of Ez when I just need to buy something!  All the woolen things are made from NZ wool which  sticks in my craw as the Australian wool industry needs all the help it can get!

 

That used to be my all time favorite, but there were others, the bulb catalogues were big in my life.  I only had to look at the special deal on Daffodils or Jonquils and in my minds eye could see drifts of flowers under the trees in my lawn.  Digger’s seeds come to mind too.  Fair dinkum, us gardeners must be the most optimistic people on the planet.  Over the years I have spent thousands on plants and bulbs, fertilizers, water crystals, pots and seeds.  And I’m still not happy with either of my gardens.  Still, 15 years of drought out of the 28 that I have been here might have something to do with the gardens’ lack of lushness.  Selective thinning when I have to ask Greg to come in to the garden with his chain saw to cut down dead trees. More on this topic soon…………

 

Sturts Desert Rose - Gossypium Sturtianum, Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.

Foxtrot Delta Papa on the Thargomindah Airstrip
Foxtrot Delta Papa on the Thargomindah Airstrip

The Royal Flying Doctor does a weekly visit to Thargomindah to provide medical care for the 300 or so locals and also the station people.  Our Doctor comes from the Charleville base, these days it’s a lady doctor one week and a bloke the next week.

 I think we are very fortunate to have the RFDS as our medical service as,  even on the stations, a doctor is only ever 2 or 3 hours away since we all have airstrips. We also have a large medical chest supplied by the RFDS to administer first aid from while waiting for the doctor to fly in.

So off to town yesterday for Greg to see the Doc ( he prefers the lady one), I went in for the ride and to take my library books back.  Had to also get diesel, about 600 litres at 149.9 cents a litre!  Petrol might have come back in the cities but it’s still pretty dear out here!  We also booked one of our cars in for a service with the Toyota dealer. The shop had reasonably fresh fruit and veg in so I bought some and a funny little ice block that had come all the way from Poland!  Unreal. 

Had a hamburger with an organic beef patty on it for lunch at the roadhouse.  OBE beef was formed by a group of graziers in Thargomindah 15 or so years ago and is still going strong, supplying organic beef to Japan and America and some in Australia too. We were a part of this for the first 10 years but had to relinquish our organic status in order to supplement our cattle during the drought to keep them alive.

 

 

Hereford bulls, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

 

On our way home we did a water run on our other place, Zenonie.  Old eagle eyes (himself) spotted a Hereford head under a tree, off the side of the road on our northern neighbour’s place, so off we go to investigate.  Sure enough it’s 2 new bulls who have taken themselves off for what they thought were, greener pastures.  Well they aren’t doing our cows any good there, so we got them moving ever so reluctantly and put them through a nearby gate back onto Zenonie.

Then we travelled the length of Z doing a water run, no great dramas today – one dead roo to be pulled out of a tank, lick blocks to be put out for the cattle, lots of gates to open and we found some of the southern neighbors’ cattle in our Bottom paddock.  They have to stay there until we muster and then we’ll try once more to get them out, but they are very wild animals and a bit hard to keep up with.

We left home at 7.30 and got back at 3, travelling about 300 kms for the day. 

 

Hereford cow having smoko, Kilcowera Station, outback Australia.  

 

Sunset at Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland. Photo Barbara Bryan.
Sunset at Cardenyabba Lagoon, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland. Photo Barbara Bryan.

 

One month to go!  Hopefully it starts to cool down a little by the time March rolls around.  It’s been tops of around 45 degrees so far and 30 – 35 at night. I used to love summer now I just endure it – even though there are a couple of good things about it – air conditioning and watching a DVD in the afternoon.

 

So far we haven’t had any major dramas with stock or watering thereof.  We did have one stock tank bust and let all the water go a couple of days ago, luckily we have electricity at that well and it was simply a matter of putting another tank there and hooking it up to the water supply and trough and then cleaning up the god awful mess that the cattle had made of the place.  Cardenyabba lagoon is nearly dry and we have to keep a good look out that cattle don’t get bogged in the rapidly drying up, last waterhole there.

 

Poddy calves at Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia

I have been running around watering everything in sight both here at the house and at the shearers’ quarters.  I think that I am on top of things and have a look around the next day and it’s time to just start it all again.  It’s like house work, you sort of wonder why you do it when you only have to do the same thing again and again.  I walk down to our shearers’ quarters first thing in the morning and move the sprinklers.  From then on I try to ride my bike down to save on fuel costs.  Up and down, up and down and then watering at the house and watering the trees in the chook yard, putting sprinklers on for the chooks and watering sheep yard trees etc.

 

Fordson Major tractor, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

Here’s Greg using the old Fordson Major to lift some  concrete pipe.  He is going to use it for a dog kennel under a mulga tree for Boofhead.

 

Greg hired a bobcat and truck to come out from town to push dirt back up around all the troughs, dig some holes and to shift the water tank.  The operator who is Greg’s nephew also climbed up most of the windmills to oil and service them.

 

Another trough had a hole in the bottom and was letting a lot of water out, G fixed it with a tank bolt and a leather washer and then a shovel full of dirt to seal it.

 

It’s a never ending job through out summer checking the stock and their watering points, one of us checks each and every water at least every second day.

 

Regal Foxtail, Ptilotus Nobilis, Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.