Meet some outback characters.

December 19, 2008

Jilleroos on Kilcowera Station - Outback Australia
Jilleroos on Kilcowera Station – Outback Australia

Penny for his thoughts.

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Wednesday – Mail Day

December 17, 2008


Kilcowera Station Homestead - Outback Queensland

Kilcowera Station Homestead - Outback Queensland











Up early – just before dawn, it’s the nicest time of day to sit on the front verandah, have yummy coffee, listen to the birds and plan my day.  It’s 4 days since we had a bit of rain -16 mls, very nice!  But time to start watering gardens again both here at the house and at the shearers quarters.




Greg is packing himself up to do a days work on the dozer clearing a fence line between us and Currawinya National Park.  It’s a 30 km drive out to the dozer before he can start so he sometimes camps out there for the night to save time and fuel. This is him on the way out.



                                      Greg in Station vehicle on the way to work - Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland



Wednesdays and Saturdays are our mail days and the mail person brings the stuff right to our front door.  The mailman has a contract with Australia Post to deliver mail to the stations along particular runs twice a week.  Our mail run would be about a 300 km round trip and includes 6 stations.


Our head honcho mailman drives up and down to Brisbane a couple of times a week in a fairly big truck to supply Thargomindah and the surrounding district with goods.  He delegates the smaller runs to his wife and assorted other drivers.



To supplement the money from Australia Post the mailman also brings goods out that the station people have ordered from town.  He or she could have anything on board from groceries and cold goods to fuel, beer, chooks, feed supplements, parts for machinery, vehicles and bikes, plants, Christmas presents and visitors.  He brought my Christmas ham out last Saturday from our nearest butcher 300 km away.


They usually do their mail runs in traytop Toyota Landcruisers or Hilux’s  (utes).  Most people drive Toyotas out here as they are about the only vehicle that won’t fall apart on our roads.  Toyota also has many dealerships and service centers in outback Australia.  Sometimes the run is done in a truck when someone has ordered something big like steel for fencing or yard building, tanks or troughs, machinery or building materials. 



                                        The mailman coming in our front driveway - Kilcowera Station    



 Further west where the stations are a million plus acres, mail, groceries, bread and small parcels are taken in by plane right to each stations private airstrip.  Some of these bigger places are a hundred or more kilometers from their nearest neighbour.



Our current mail man is a remarkable man of about 80 who has been in south west Queensland most of his life, mostly on the land but he is semi retired now.  I think he is retiring completely in 2009.  We will miss him as he is one of nature’s gentlemen.  All the best Jack.




                                           Mail bag ready to go at Kilcowera Station












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Saturday Morning at Kilcowera Station

December 12, 2008



My beautiful little girls in the early 1980s

My beautiful little girls in the early 1980s




Life on Kilcowera Station



We have owned and cared for Kilcowera (49,210 ha) since 1980.  In that time we have raised our 2 girls, teaching them primary school at home with the aid of Distance Education and School of the air, they went to boarding schools in Toowoomba, 1000 kms away at the age of 13 for further education.


Through the 80’s and 90’s we ran both Hereford cattle and Merino sheep on the 2 places (we also own Zenonie next door, 32,634 ha). After 5 years of drought in the early 90’s we joined OBE (Organic Beef Exports) and commenced the certification process with NASAA (National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia) for organic accreditation.  We were certified organic right up to 2004.  Unfortunately we found ourselves in the next drought and even though we sold all our sheep and two thirds of our cattle we had to supplement the remaining cows with a product that was not acceptable to NASAA.  So we had to relinquish our organic status, however we still run the 2 properties in the same sustainable way and do not use any  chemicals, HGP’s or antibiotics on our pasture fed cattle.


                                             Hereford bull - Kilcowera Station - Outback Queensland.


                                                                Hereford bull



The eastern boundary of Kilcowera abuts onto Currawinya National Park which was gazetted as a park in 1991.  Our western boundary is the Dingo Barrier fence, the longest fence in the world at 5400 kms.


We started our foray into tourism in 2001 with the encouragement of the local Tourism officer who felt we had a special place that people would want to visit.  We thought so too, even though the thought of dealing with a multitude of strangers was a little daunting.  That first year we hosted the Cobar Rotary Club on their annual rally.  There were 40 odd vehicles, 85 people, beds made up (and showers!) in the shearing shed as well as the quarters, with blankets, mattresses, chairs, tables and portaloos, borrowed from neighbors and also hired from various places for the event.  My Mum, one daughter and a sister-in-law drove down from Mt Isa to help us cook for the multitude and keep them all happy.


                                            Organising breakfast for 85 Cobar Rotary Club Rally people.


                                                         Organising breakfast.


We all had a great time, they stayed for 2 nights and when they left the following morning, the organizers said they would be back and so they have been in 2007!  It was a pretty full on introduction into the hospitality industry.


Our little tourism business is steadily growing; we feel we must be doing something right as we have repeat visitors who appreciate the improvements we are constantly implementing around the place.  We do not aspire to be too commercial or expensive but want to retain the outback feel and continue to offer guests our time, hospitality and knowledge of our place and the local area.


This area has had a run of bad seasons and so we sold all the sheep in 2002 and have progressively lightened our cattle numbers in order to maintain a core breeding herd.  We currently have about 700 cattle on the 2 places. 


We do our mustering about April and use a small plane to find the cattle and then the stockmen muster them on motor bikes and either put them into smaller paddocks or into the cattle yard to be sorted out.  The pilot and the stockmen are in continuous radio contact.  In order to do the job properly great skill is needed by all as each person is a member of a team working together.  The stockmen need to have a good sense of direction, stock sense, an ability to track the cattle, to be excellent bike riders and to have a cool head when cattle are going everywhere and they are tearing through the scrub at 60 or 70 kms an hour! 


The pilot needs similar skills as in a good sense of direction and stock sense, also the ability to orchestrate the whole muster and get everyone together with the cattle at the end.  Sometimes it’s hard flying too, low and slow with very tight turns, big paddocks and just trying to keep finding the cattle and the men in the scrub.  Stamina is called for as the pilot could be flying for 7 or 8 hours in a day.


And as this is my first time blogging I’m finding it really difficult getting any help in how to upload an image or two here.  But I will persevere there must be a way!  Had 18 mls of rain here yesterday afternoon as well as gusts of wind up to about 60 kms an hour and a dust storm.  Thems the breaks! 





Me back in the 1980's sitting in Toyota

Me back in the 1980's sitting in Toyota


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