Mustering at Kilcowera

August 17, 2013

Hereford cattle at Cardenyabba Lagoon

We start our next round of mustering on the first of September, what a great way to to get into spring!  The helicopter is booked, the musterers are booked, the plane and bikes are ready to go –  horses too.  This muster is really about trying to find all the naughty little weaners who did not stay in their new paddocks when they were put into them in April, they went everywhere!

Yarding up cattle at Kilcowera Station.

Yarding up cattle at Kilcowera Station.

Outback Beds

Outback Beds

 

I thought you might like to know a little about Outback Beds an organization that we are members of!

Outback Beds consists of a network of owner-operated farm stays and accommodation throughout Outback NSW and southwest QLD. It was formed in 2002, the Year of the Outback, which was also a time of drought. The general aim is to bring together people who have a vision for diversified use of the land and to offer travelers an authentic Outback experience.

OBB is a peak body representing Outback NSW and SW QLD, including the famous Darling River Run and the Dowling Track.  All positions within the organisation are served on a voluntary basis. The yearly AGM, held in the quiet month of February, is a great time for catching up, meeting with old friends and the opportunity to meet new members/friends that come to the meeting. Often there will be industry representatives at the meeting to give members insights, tools and tips about the hospitality business.

The website http://www.outbackbeds.com.au contains much useful information for people contemplating a visit to the outback region. The logo and brand, which features a black cockatoo on a bed-head, and the slogan “Stay in the outback with friends” is becoming well known. OBB are a high profile group and still growing in this, their 11th year in business.

The free Outback Beds Map is very popular and well used by most of the travelling public it is widely available in most visitor info centers, roadhouses, cafes and shops.  OBB also have promotional material such as stickers, pens and pads and polo-style tops, all with the OBB logo.

A recent and most exciting development is that OBB are now partnering with National Parks (NPWS) to promote accommodation in Far West and Western NSW. This will take place in the form of an Outback and Rivers Map. The NPWS 2013 campaign includes this map, which will locate National Parks, accommodation and camping facilities (both within the parks and Outback Beds), Visitor Information Centres and touring routes to link visitor travel in the region.

Outback Beds have won many awards which led to TV commercials and print media advertising.

  • 2005 Department State and Regional Development Business Enterprise Award
  • 2006 Inland NSW Tourism Award winner- Destination and Product Development
  • 2007 Inland NSW tourism Award, Distinction –Destination Marketing
  • 2007 Tourism NSW Distinction –Destination Marketing
  • 2012-Outback Tourism Symposium – Outstanding contribution to Tourism in Outback NSW and in recognition for 10 years in Foundation

OBB have a Freecall number 1800 005 298 where prospective visitors can make enquiries and request brochures and maps.  We love being a part of this network, all members work together to help each other out as well as helping our visitors find another great place to stay while they are in our area.

Members establishments range from fine hotels, a pottery place with accommodation and horse riding, cattle and sheep stations, caravan parks, B&B’s and cottages and cabins.  Truly something for everyone!  Check them out at www.outbackbeds.com.au  and facebook http://www.facebook.com/OutbackBeds?ref=hl#!/OutbackBeds

 

Kilcowera airstrip in Calenso Paddock

Recently, I was on our newest airstrip, the one above, walking up and down the sides poisoning the small mulga trees that were, and are, attempting to take it over again, when thousands of feet above a jet whizzed by.  It got me thinking, all those people up there drinking scotch, coffee, a beer, reading, eating, watching movies, chatting, keeping their kids happy, admiring the flight attendants – does the thought ever cross their minds that down in all that emptiness beneath them, lives are being lived, jobs being done, life and death issues are being dealt with in the small towns and on the stations, that people are earning a living down there in all that nothingness.

I love the fact that Kilcowera is open for visitors so they can see firsthand what it is like to live and work in our fairly harsh environment.  But these visitors usually have some idea about life in the bush already, they have travelled all over Australia looking at, out of the way spots such as ourselves and they keep searching out more places off the beaten track to go to.  The majority of Australians live on the coastal strip and never drive over the big hill and I reckon it ‘s these ones who would be surprised at  how much is going on beneath them as they wing their way over the continent.  Lucky ducks!

Kilcowera airstrip

Just in the last month in my area we have had major bushfires with many spotter planes and water bombers in the sky, the Royal Flying Doctor has been called in to airlift an injured volunteer firefighter ( a young girl ) to Charleville hospital and 2 vehicles have been destroyed in the blazes. Many people spent Christmas day and New years day and all days in between, out in the heat, day and night, 24 hours non stop, trying to stop the fires.

Other people are on the ground on motorbikes and horseback mustering sheep, cattle and goats, the road trains are driving back and forth with their loads of stock or freight for the towns and stations.  There are also hundreds of oil workers in the outback at any given time.

The kids are back on holidays from their boarding schools or hostels, they are on their ponies, or motor bikes or driving around in something on the place, cause all station, and most town kids can drive by the time they are 6 or 7.  And these kids are out helping Mum and Dad with the fencing, mustering, checking the waters, climbing and oiling the windmills, cleaning out troughs and wells, changing tyres and working on the cars and machinery.  There’s always plenty to do.

Spare a thought for all the people down below toiling in their gardens just to make a little oasis in the outback for themselves and their family and all the other inhabitants of the Outback – there is plenty going on down there!  Happy New Year!!

Our house at Kilcowera Station

Poddy Calves at Kilcowera

October 3, 2012

Angela with Spiderwoman

Angela with Spiderwoman

An inevitable fact of life on a station is the almost certain appearance of the Poddy Calf ( or poddy lamb!). We seem to get one or two a year.   It was all lots of fun when the girls were little and at home, to care for them – they loved them dearly.

Katherine, Angela and Wednesday

Katherine, Angela and Wednesday

The poor little things somehow lose their mother.  Occasionally she’ll die out in the paddock, sometimes during a muster the cow might leave the calf planted in the scrub and when she is taken back to the paddock she may have forgotten about the calf.  Or Mum might have gone on the truck and the calf wanders into the trough days later looking for her and finds us instead.  If it’s obvious that the calf hasn’t got a mother we’ll nab it, take it home and feed it.

And then there’s mismothering.  Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes it’s the cows fault.  Most cows are great mothers but you do sometimes get some bad mothers or just a plain loopy cow.

If we are branding the calves they are put into a separate, small yard away from the cows , then branded and let straight back out to the cow who usually claims the calf, as quick as lightning.  Some of them are just about breathing down our neck as we’re putting their eartags in and the brand on their rumps!  After that it’s back out to the paddock where we hold them all together near a watering point, giving the calves and cows ample opportunity to mother up again.

But sometimes it just so happens that one or two don’t mother up and voila, we have a poddy.  They live in the chook yard while they are getting the special milk which we feed them via the big green cow and also calf pellets.  During the drought we also put the poddies in the shearers quarters yard as there was always plenty of grass for them there.

Poddies in the Shearers Quarters yard.

Poddies in the Shearers Quarters yard.

One year a neighbour gave us 8 poddies cause he couldn’t be bothered raising them.  That was about 6 years ago and since then the heifers have produced a calf each year and the steers were sold at about two years.  There was Delilah and Cinderella, so called cause they were so unfortunately ugly, Spindles had legs on her like match sticks, Rhonda named after his sister, Devondale cause it was white,  Kerry O’Brian who was white with a red patch on his cruet and Samson & Butterscotch.  We also went through a time when they were named Tuesday, Wednesday etc.

Eating their pellets.

Eating their pellets.

Years later if they are in the mob of cattle that we have yarded up they will still coming running up to us if we shake a bucket of pellets around.

And this is the current one – Sandra.

Sandra and the big green cow.

Sandra and the big green cow.

Image

The very long and treacherous Jerry Jerroo crossing.  There were some deep holes in there!

This year is speeding by so fast I can’t believe it.  So much has been happening around our area, I’ll start with our road, The Dowling Track.  The Bulloo Shire received lots of government money to fix flood damaged roads and ours was one of them.  Contractors have been working on it for about 9 months now.  The bit we were all busting to see fixed was the Jerry Jerroo creek crossing.  Well fair dinkum those blokes would get just so much done on the job and then go off for two weeks break. They would park all their machinery up on the side of the road for two weeks and one time I made a big sign and stuck it to the front of one of the graders, it said “ For Sale!!”  It would rain again and fill the road and crossing up with water, mud and silt once more so they couldn’t work on it.

Stock trucks, council vehicles, tourists and locals were ploughing their way through it making the holes deeper and deeper. The contractors bogged graders, front end loaders, excavators and their own trucks trying to get the water off the road.  The council would close the road but that makes no difference really, cause they don’t tell us, they just trot out and put a sign up near town saying road closed.  All it does is stop tourists and gives the mail person the perfect excuse not to deliver our mail.  They had the road ready 3 times to lay the bitumen, but they went away for their break instead of doing the job and it rained and stuffed the job up again.  BUT third time lucky – the crossing is at last finished – beautiful bitumen laid right across the 2 channels of the creek!  Hope it doesn’t wash away next time the creek runs!

Image

The newly completed crossing.  It was a difficult job right to the end as the truck delivering the screenings broke down and it was also found that even though the prepared road surface looked fine there was still one very wet patch fair in the middle of the road..