Ever been to a Grader Workshop?

June 9, 2011

Friends at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland
Friends at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland

Well why not?  They’re  lots of fun!   We had four blokes fly in from Narryilco, four drive up from over the border, four rangers from the National Park and another near neighbour flew his spoofy little R22 over.  Then there was Greg and me, our newest member of the family, Bernd a volunteer from Germany, the organiser of the day, Suzanne and the grader expert who had travelled down from the Northern Territory.  Bernd was very taken with the chopper and marvelled at how the neighbours just “drop  in.”

Such a handy roomful of men, boots, Akubras, Wranglers, long legs and experience!  David, one of the neighbours said to Greg, “When was the last time you had so many handy blokes here at once?  You oughta think about bunging a muster on, getting a bit of work out of us for the day.”

Bernd, our volunteer helper.

We started with smoko, then moved into theory and a DVD, next was learning how to take levels with a Dumpy Level.  I didn’t know you could do so much with one of those things.  And it’s surprising how you may think the water will flow one way across a bit of land but take a reading and you can see it will actually go the other way.  The point of the workshop was to learn how to minimise erosion when constructing roads and fence lines.  Also to maximise the beneficial aspects of even the smallest amount of rain – keep the water on your land – don’t let it just run off.

There was quite a social aspect to the whole day too, catching up with old friends and meeting new people.  We had a sausage sizzle for lunch with fruitcake and biscuits and then the yarning started.  With seven pilots in the room the talk soon turned to incidents involving aircraft, getting lost, running out of fuel and other common occurrences of the aeronautical kind.  

Stuart told of the Piper twin that landed on his airstrip way back when, the pilot was unsure of his position and very low on fuel.  He was heading for Dubbo still a couple of hundred kilometres to the south.   All Stuart had was super, as that was what his aircraft used.  The bloke said that’s fine, she’ll be right mate.  Now Stuart was a bit sceptical about a twin using super, but hey it wasn’t his plane, he was only helping the bloke out.  So they pumped a bit in each tank and Stuart suggested that the pilot ought to give the plane a bit of a go, up and down the airstrip without actually taking off just to make sure the engines were happy with the super.  Yeah, Yeah, I’ll do that was the reply from our gung ho pilot, well he did give it heaps taxiing to the end of the airstrip, turned around and roared off heading due east.  Stu reckoned the engines sounded all right but never did find out where the bloke ended up.

We had 3 planes here just recently with twelve blokes on board and they were a fairly relaxed bunch.  They didn’t have a GPS between them which is ok, you can navigate the old tribal way if you’ve got paper maps, but they didn’t appear to have them either!  On their way here they were going to land at Quilpie to refuel but landed at Eromanga instead!  If you are not familiar with the towns they all look the same from up there, the only trouble was they had organised the man at Quilpie to refuel the planes and couldn’t work out where the hell he was!  They found us though.  And then must have got themselves home to Warnambool the next day.

After lunch the practical component of the day started with all the men and a couple of ladies out watching the expert driving our old grader, putting up little banks and drains to control the flow of water.  The construction of fire breaks was very interesting as there is so much grass around, bush fires over spring and summer are a distinct possibility for us all.  The fly in people all left about fourish and the rest departed at five.  It’s great that we are able to learn about stuff like this on our own places as we all want to manage our properties in a sustainable and productive way.

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