Emu chicks with dad at Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.
Emu chicks with dad at Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.

Well here we are, the day after my B’day and the day before Chrissy and it has been a wonderful year that has gone far too fast!!  Why do they go faster the older I get?  Can someone please tell me?  I remember when a year seemed an interminable time (at school in particular) and when I was 10 or 11, I couldn’t believe that I would ever get to the lofty heights of teenagedom.  Well that was a while ago!! 

I took myself off for a little fly on my birthday as I always do, just to remind myself that flying is fun and fantastic and a privilege and something that I am good at.  It was a beautiful day and an enjoyable little job checking out some of the new cows, making sure they were not hanging in corners of their new paddocks.
We went into town (Thargomindah) after that for supplies, had to get the flood truck over the Bulloo River.  There has been a lot of water under and over that bridge this year. 

We have had just over 20 inches here at Kilcowera this year, Thargomindah has had about 32 I think, what a difference a hundred kilometers can make.  There were dribs and drabs of rainfall through November but nothing major and nothing all this month despite having some promising changes go right past us.  The weather man is up to his old tricks again promising rain that doesn’t happen. Half of Queensland and New South Wales is awash, but it’s fine here! 

A few of weeks ago we were supposed to get a couple of inches of rain so we thought we would grade the air strips to get some of the vegetation off them.  Greg just finished the job, the strips looked great and we got an almighty wind storm go straight past the house and roar down the airstrips taking half the dirt with it …………and not a drop of rain.  So now they are half corrugated and bumpy and with a lot less dirt on them. 

We have been very spoilt throughout the year with the rain, I have not had to water lawns, gardens and trees nearly as much as usual, but crunch time is here.  The trees outside my garden need a drink, the sheepyard trees and chook yard trees are thirsty and the lawn at the quarters is parched.  

Most of the surface water on both Kilcowera and Zenonie has evaporated so the water run needs to be done every second day again.  

So far we have had 3 fatalities (that we know of) with the new cows.  And we have also discovered that these Brahman cross cattle are queer mothers.  They will abandon their calves as quick as a brown snake if we disturb them.  Not at all like the Hereford cows we have always had, they were excellent mothers. 

Angela, our youngest, spent Christmas with her boyfriend and his family at their farm near Laidley and our oldest, Katherine is steadfastly staying in the west for the foreseeable future. Here’s our little Christmas tree……….

Christmas Tree at Kilcowera.

Flinders Ranges trip 2010.

December 4, 2010

Camping amongst the sand dunes near Merty Merty.
Camping amongst the sand dunes near Merty Merty.

In late July Greg and I were able to get away for 10 days and headed for the Flinders, supposedly on a fact finding tour about other station stays.  SA has got quite a few that have been operational for many years and a stack of new ones have also started up recently. 

Ralph and Barbara (Sydneysiders) had stayed at Kilcowera as guests and offered to caretake the place for us so we could have a little break away.  They arrived here quite late after a trying day driving through rain and wet roads from Tibooburra.  Rain on the roof at 4 am got us out of bed fairly quickly and on our way as early as possible (when Ralph eventually surfaced!).  There has been so much rain this year that it doesn’t take much to put the roads out and being so early in the morning we had no way of knowing how much rain had been in the district.  So we decided to play it safe and went the long way around to Cunnamulla, Bourke, Cobar, Broken Hill and Peterborough.  Three hundred extra kilometers right at the start and we only had nine days! 

Once we got to Hawker we started ringing various stations to see about staying but could not contact anyone.  So we carried on up to Wilpena Pound and used their VIC and coffee shop as our office, once again trying to book in to one of the many stations on the list we had downloaded from SA tourism.  Most didn’t answer their phone, some didn’t even have messagebank or an answering machine and the two who did answer wanted in excess of $200 for us to stay in their Shearers Quarters for one night!  They explained that was the base fee for the use of their facility, there was a price per person but the minimum fee was $200.  So in desperation we rang Rawnsley Park and booked in there.  It’s very much a tourist operation, with a caravan park, eco cabins, units and a restaurant.  We were thankful to have somewhere nice to stay but it was not the type of place we had wanted to stay in.  Rawnsley Park is not comparable to our operation as it is more of an Outback resort.

On top of Mt Caernarvon, Willow Springs Station during the Skytrek drive.

We cruised all around that area of the Flinders for the next few days enjoying the spectacular scenery, some early wild flowers and the formidable Skytrek drive.  Then it was time to start heading home.  Once again we tried to book into a couple of stations with out success, so our next night was at the Blinman Hotel.  They seem to think tourists are there to be fleeced and fleeced we were, as we found this to be a most expensive place to stay at given the quality of the establishment and the service.  The meals were very good though.  And that Coopers beer was delicious

From there it was all about getting home and the rains had started to come in again from the west and roads were closing or in danger of being closed in front of us.  We had wanted to head north to Moolawatana which we did on the Mt Hopeless road (don’t you love the name?), but about 20 k’s past there we were confronted with a very large, very wet, very silty creek which we reluctantly decided we weren’t going to pull on.  So had to back track past Moolawatana and on to a little used side road heading west that eventually linked up with the Strzelecki.  Well the first forty six kilometers of that road would have to be one of the worst tracks we have ever been on.  But it was very interesting and beautiful country to drive through and we found this most magical place called Terrapinina Springs where we stopped and had lunch.  It was so peaceful; I was imagining dingoes and aboriginals peering at us from the cliff faces.  I would have loved to camp there for the night but by this time Greg had the wind up about getting home and we soldiered on, the track got much better when we went past the Mt Fitton mine.  Not long past there we passed a station with a sign out the front encouraging people to come in and stay but it was to early in the day so we whizzed by (bugger!!!) and camped somewhere along the track that night.  Went home via Merty Merty, Bollards, Cameron’s Corner, Tibooburra, Wanaaring, Hamilton Gate and home.  We were following rain all the way and the roads were mostly open and in pretty good order.  The Bulloo River overflow was magnificent and would have been another great place to camp at, but alas no time as we had to be back home for a plane load of visitors the next day. 

In hindsight we should have been ringing those stations before we left home and sounding them out as not everything you get from the internet is 100% correct.  We could not really book ahead as we did not know when we were going to be anywhere.  We had our camping gear with us so we were ok for a bed but we wanted to stay on places offering similar options to our place.  It seems that they do things very differently in SA for instance if you stay on a place and there is a drive on the property you pay extra for that – it is not included in the accommodation price, as ours is.  Also it would appear that many of the Station Stays down there do not want passing trade only bookings in advance by large groups.  We also reckon that the tourism business throughout the Flinders is very focused on the almighty dollar to the detriment of the personal needs and wants of the visitor.  Basically you’re just another punter walking through the door. 

These are our personal observations, I don’t want to upset anybody with regard to the Flinders area (it’s very beautiful), but this is how we found the places to be.  We were very disappointed at not staying on any stations in that area, perhaps another time.

Terrapinina Srings

Terrapinina Springs, just gorgeous!