Station vehicles, number 2.

February 10, 2011

Out fencing at Kilcowera Station.
Out fencing at Kilcowera Station.

All this brings to mind the things we do with our Toyotas, the possibilities are endless . There are of course the obvious things: towing things, carrying things, pushing things over, driving through rough terrain, using it as a camping vehicle but over the years there have been some more interesting moments with our cars. 

Many, many times I have had the boring job of using the vehicle to pull things up via a gin pole (sorry!!!!!) – bales of wool out of the shearing shed onto the truck, thick soupy sludge out of a stock water tank that had to be cleaned out and pulling windmill gear up out of the hole when we needed to replace the pump or the columns. This is not a bad job at all as you can sit in the air con and listen to the radio but one can’t get too complacent while doing the job as things can go wrong at any time. 

Not too long ago Greg had his bulldozer blade off for some reason or another and when it was time to reattach it he needed help.  He had everthing lined up and I was to drive the Toyota.  This great heavy thing just needed a gentle nudge to get it into the right place so it would all fit again.  So low range and away we went, the thingy slid across and down into where it was supposed to go and bulldozer was together again! 

Way back when Polo was still being played in all the small towns out here, Thargomindah was having a street parade as part of it’s annual Polo Carnival.  Well, I saw a horse standing on the back of a ute in the parade.  There he was, driving down the main drag: bridle and saddle on, all his bandages on, all ready to go.  He wasn’t tied up but just perched up in the back of the Toyota.  Most of the polo ponies were used for mustering and were very well bred, quiet and manageable horses. 

Toyotas are good at pulling wires out of old fence lines: you just get the 5 or six wires and tie them onto the towball and pull away.  You can get rid of a fence fairly quickly, we often reuse the wire for another job and use the old fence posts for firewood.  You can also pay out the wires for a new fenceline from the vehicle using a spinning jenny on the back. Various parts of the car can be used for straightening steel posts or pipe or you can use it for breaking things too !  

When mustering cattle it’s handy to have a Toyota around just in case there are some bad eggs in the mob.  Sometimes a little nudge with the vehicle is all that is needed to convince a cow she should stay with the mob and not attempt to be a freedom fighter.  A neighbour of ours uses a Tojo all the time as his mustering vehicle after too many busters off his bike.  I am in total awe as to where that man can take that vehicle, he fairly crashes through the scrub – just don’t get behind him – cause he doesn’t look where he’s going! 

A few years ago we were camped on the Nullabor Plain right near the Bight so we could watch the whales sailing past.  A storm came up in the middle of the night and started lifting our tent which wasn’t held down by much, just us really.  You can’t get tent pegs in very far in that limestone ground.  So while I valiantly held the tent down from the confines of my swag, my brave husband shifted the Toyota and positioned it between us and the Great Southern Ocean and tied the tent to the vehicle.  A few hours later the wind shifted 180 degrees and he was out there again, moving the car around to the other side and reattaching the tent. It was a fairly disturbing night, and we didn’t see any whales either. 

There was a wedding on the place next door a few years ago in the cattle yard and all the wedding party arrived in Land Cruiser utes, complete with white ribbons.  The bride traipsed around in high heels and the long white dress ,the alter was made of hay bales and it was a very nice day out. The celebrations lasted about 3 days with many of the brides relatives staying here at Kilcowera.

Greg & Toni unloading the 4 wheeler at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.


Station Vehicles. Part one.

February 2, 2011

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 HJ47 and white in colour which was a change from that nasty old light brown of our previous ones.  With a tow bar, bull bar and a body it cost us $13,357.10. And it had a digital clock and 4 gears.  A new one today is out of our reach for the foreseeable future as they are around $60,000 and getting just a bit too pretty, precious and soft to use for everyday work on the property.

Toot died in 1985, Greg took over the reigns of both places and the new HJ47.  An overseer was employed to live and work on Zenonie and he took over Toots old Toyota which is what it was always called.

1990 rolled around and it was decided a new car was needed again, so off we went to the dealership and came out with another white trayback ute at a cost of around $30,000 from memory.  It was very upmarket with air conditioning, a new dashboard, the digital clock, a snorkel, winch, 5 gears!!!, and 2 fuel tanks.  While it wasn’t as roomy inside as the older ones, the air con was pretty nice!  Toots’ old Toyota was relegated to being the fencing vehicle and the overseer got the HJ47, aka Whitey.

Anyway we cruised around in the new one, with me opening the gates, doing the water runs for 3 years and not once did I drive it!  Not once!!!  His lordship would be perched up behind the wheel in the air conditioning, like a little buddha, watching the Missus struggling with those mongrel little wire gates (cockies gates).  After about 18 months of this I decided not to get narky about it, but to see just how long it would be until I was granted the privilege of driving it – and it was a bit over 3 years.  There are some things a person doesn’t forget!

The last ute we bought was in 2001, second hand as they were getting to expensive to buy new.  It was a pretty silver one owned by the brother in law, just 2 years old with about 20,000 km on it.  It didn’t really have any more bells and whistles on it than the last one back in 1990.  Oh, it has a limited slip diff, a canopy, mags and fat tyres.  Yee Hah !!!

Whitey 1, the HJ45, got sold to some dill down south who promptly drove it through a metre and a half of water and cooked the motor and the 1990 ute is now the fencing vehicle and has taken on the moniker of Whitey.  The poor old thing never seems to catch up to itself or it’s not allowed to at any rate. One month you’ll look at it and it’s listing to one side (the drivers side, naturally), and favouring a back leg.  So it gets new backsprings and up she perks…. but not all round.  Then it might get some new back shockies and it looks like it’s about to buck out of the shed.  Recently Greg put some new springs and shocks and new tyres on the front and it now looks like something out of Mad Max ready to pounce on you if you walk past it.  The poor old girl never seems to be level though – still it’s easy to slide into the drivers seat now.

When our first child came along we had to upgrade from the Hilux to a Station Wagon and being on a very tight budget we looked around for a second hand one.  The neighbour down the road was upgrading so we became the proud new owners of a brown and white Toyota wagon.  I have fond memories of water spitting out of the monstrous grate of the air conditioning while dust oozed in through the perished door seals and Creedence blared from the cassette player.  We’ve had 3 more wagons since then.  The old girl we have now is getting a bit long in the tooth but after 9 years of drought and a greatly diminished income we really have no choice but to hang onto it.  It’s a good reliable vehicle being an 80 series Toyota and well looked after and serviced by the rellies in Thargomindah.

Our 80 series wagon on the job at Kilcowera Station.