Yabbies caught at Kilcowera Station SW Qld.
Yabbies caught at Kilcowera Station SW Qld.

We have had so much rain here and in the district since Christmas that rivers, creeks and mulga flats have hardly stopped running. We missed an opportunity to put our car on the town side of the mulga flat just north of the house.  There was just a couple of days when it was dry enough to get across and then it rained again and the mulga flat hasn’t stopped running since. 

Mulga flat just north of our house, the only thing stopping us from getting to the main road.

Greg reckons we are like a pair of emus padding up and down the dingo fence: we can walk or ride a motor bike to check out Cardenyabba Creek, then Box Creek, then the mulga flat, then back home.  And that’s as far as we can go. 

When I first came to live out here I learnt to keep a well stocked pantry in case we were ever flooded in and have mostly done that, even though for the last 9 years it seemed a waste of time.  We also have to have enough fuel to last a month or two and plenty of gas for the stove.  It’s easy to overlook and forget things like toilet paper, batteries and personal products.  

Talking to a neighbour (George) a few days ago and they were running short of supplies so they asked the local council if they could bring some groceries down the road from Thargo. George and his employees would meet the council workers at the flooded Cardenyabba creek which was a meter over the road and about 200 meters wide.  Well they didn’t have a boat so they made a raft out of an old car roof rack and 20 liter plastic drums and floated the supplies across. George also told me about the people at one of the  NSW, QLD border gates nearby: they are chain smokers and had run out of smokes, they didn’t even try to slow down, just kept puffing away til the smokes were all gone!  Some frayed tempers down there!  I reckon they would just about walk to Hungerford to buy some more.

Jade and Kellie rafting the stores across Cardenyabba Creek.

Taking stock of my salad veg today I noted that I have 4 cherry tomatoes, 3 lettuce leaves and half a cucumber- with some onion and olives just enough for one more salad.  We have half a cabbage, some carrots, plenty of spuds, onions and pumpkin, one choko and 2 sweet potatoes.  Plenty of scope there.  I also have silverbeet in the garden, some zuchini bushes which refuse to have any female flowers and some okra plants – they are not flowering yet either.  But we also have tinned stuff and dried veg too. 

We are nearly out of bread so we will have to start making that soon and our meat supply is not great so I am rationing that as well.  We used to have chooks but they died last year so I have to buy eggs these days.  I’ve got 2 dozen and I am rationing them too as they will be taking the place of some meat dishes.  I was a half baked vegetarian in my youth and can make a mean vegetable curry or lentil dish when needed.  Then there’s fried rice, Macaroni Cheese, Tuna dishes, vegetable bolognese. Those zucchinis had better start flowering! 

I believe that supplies have been boated across the Bulloo River at Thargomindah for the last few days and some are also being flown in to the town as well, today.  

There does not seem to be any rain predicted for the next week or so, so the country should start to dry out a bit allowing us to have a better look around.  Lake Wyara should have a lot of water in it now.  The birds are plentiful once again and there are many different grasses all going to seed.  The lawn around our shearers quarters really needs mowing but we can’t get the mower down there.  Greg fertilised the Kikuyu just before one lot of rain and it is probably knee high by now as we have had 2 floods go through the campground in the last month.  He has also been busy making picnic tables and new fire places at the campground. 

 The flooded campground at Kilcowera Station.                                   The road that goes east away from the quarters at Kilcowera Station.

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

 

 
Old Crown stove - Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland - Station Stay - Farm Stay
Old Crown stove – Kilcowera Station – Outback Queensland – Station Stay – Farm Stay

Changes through the years.  Part 1

 

I was poking around the shearers quarters yard this morning, moving sprinklers and spreading the poddies manure about on the lawn (they move in over summer to keep the grass down) and thinking of some of the things that have changed over the years.

 

I suppose the biggest in your face change is the shearers quarters itself.  When we first married and moved to Kilcowera, Greg and I, closely followed by 2 daughters, lived in the quarters.  But not the nice building there today.  Oh no, the one we lived in was drafty, freezing cold, or super hot and was a major conduit for the inflow of dust. 

 

We had 32 volt power supplied by a big old diesel Lister engine and a bank of second hand Telecom batteries for lighting at night after the engine was turned off.  The lights were pretty dim too.  In winter the diesel would freeze in the fuel tank overnight and the engine could not be started till about 10 am.  This old engine below is similar to the one we hadin our engine room.  That old engine room has been scrubbed up and made into an extra bathroom now.

 

                   

 

                                                  Southern Cross Stationary Diesel Motor - Kilcowera Station    

 

 I was extremely lucky in so much as I had a 32 volt vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust, a 32 v mix master, 3 evaporative coolers that worked some of the time and best of all a 32 volt Simpson agitator washing machine complete with a wringer!  Honestly they were fantastic old machines, simple to use and to fix.  Every time one washing machine would die Greg seemed to have another one nearby to cannibalize for parts and bingo! I’d have a washing machine again.  The old machines are still lined up at the old dump near the quarters.  And we also have a new line up now of dead automatic  machines that only seem to last about 2 years.  They’re in the hanger.  I don’t know why.  Spare parts?

 

The kitchen was interesting. We had an old Crown wood stove which had a state of the art hot water system attached to it.  I had a lot to learn in the cooking department on this wood burning beast!  Now actually I wasn’t a bad cook except for one whole class of food….. no make that two.  Cakes and biscuits and deserts were my problem.  The savoury stuff was all go – even though I did blanch a bit at tongues, hearts, livers, sweet breads and brains!  I had been a city girl – my Mum had made me eat tripe when I was a kid but after I threw up she gave up on trying to improve my palate and I never developed a taste for offal.  But people in the bush love it. All those aforementioned things are a treat and certainly not to be wasted.  Not much is wasted in the bush.  Anyway being the young bride and eager to please, I learned how to cook the offally bits.

 

But I also had to tackle the sweet things cause the blokes out here sneer at Arnotts biscuits! Suffice to say I did learn and developed a bit of a sweet tooth too.  This is the kitchen in the new shearers quarters.

 

 

                                       Kitchen at Kilcowera Station - Station Stay - Farm Stay - Outback Australia

 

 

                                                      

 

 

 
 
 
 

Saturday morning at Kilcowera

December 23, 2008

 

 

 

 

 I always take myself for a little fly on my birthday so as that’s tomorrow I thought today was close enough.  I had fuelled the plane up yesterday, checked the oil, coolant and tyres. Dawn saw me doing the daily inspection all over and around the plane, every things OK, so I start her up. 

 

As soon as I moved off and used a little brake I felt something was wrong.  I attempted to run the engine to 3800 rpm to check the CDI’s while keeping the plane stationary with the brakes, but the brakes wouldn’t hold.  The left hand brake line has a crack in it and is letting the brake fluid out.

 

Now the thought did cross my mind that the wind was straight down the longest airstrip and I really could get away with no brakes if I really needed to go for a fly.  But it’s an unnecessary risk seeing as I don’t really have to go.  So put the plane back in the hanger.  Our maintenance man flies out from Gympie to do any work that needs to be done on my little bus, so when he’ll be able to fit in a trip out here to fix it is in the lap of the gods, especially at this time of the year.

 

Me fueling up my Skyfox

Me fueling up my Skyfox