Youngest daughter Angela with a friend at Kilcowera Station
Youngest daughter Angela with a friend at Kilcowera Station

Well Easter has come and gone and was a great week with lots of campers, family and friends around the place.  We had so much food in the coldroom it was difficult finding just what I wanted at times.  One of our campers kept us in yabbies for entrees on two nights, he also had a couple of kayaks which everyone had a go in.  They are just the shot for sneaking up on water birds!

We finished our cattle mustering just before easter and then had a contractor come in and muster some goats off the place, that was very exciting –  seeing how a professional handled the job.  With two choppers, two trucks  and lots of men and women.  We  have some further cattle work to do in late June, when  the cows have finished calving.

Also just had a party fly in and stay overnight in a beautiful helicopter.  What a nice machine, gets along at 130 knots – I think it is a Eurocopter.  We had roast beef and veg done in the camp ovens and copious quantities of red wine to stave off the evening’s chill.

The 5 seat Eurocopter Squirell at Kilcowera Staton in Queenslands Outback

We have been having a mouse plague all through the west and Kilcowera has it’s share as well.  I have been catching 50 or 60 in traps every night, but numbers seem to be steadiying up, down to about 15 a night now.  The two terriers are dam good mousers and enjoy the thrill of the chase!  Maisie has become quite demented about the mice, like she has a one track mind.   MOUSEMOUSEMOUSEMOUSEMOUSE!  It’s also a new topic of conversation for our campers, trading mouse yarns!

Greg eventually got his truck back from the garage in Thargomindah, where it has been for the last 8 months, waiting for parts that had to come from Japan.  Talk about a slow boat from Japan.  The truck also suffered a mishap while being worked on and subsequently the garage owners had to procure a new second hand door for it and that, too, took months to arrive.  Anyway when he got it back it’s first job was to go back to town to  bring home two horses that we have recently bought.

Thargomindah has a yearly Stockmans Challenge and as part of the show they put on an auction of, mainly, stock horses.  We bought two nice quiet ones to start mustering on again instead of using bikes all of the time.  There is so much vegetation covering up all the other things lying on the ground that it is exceedingly dangerous riding a bike around.  At least the horses can help by looking where they are putting their feet, leaving us to look for the cattle.  More on horses next post.  Some photos too.  Cheers Toni 

My Mum arriving at Thargomindah - she's finally made it to the internet!!!My Mum arriving at Thargomindah - she's finally made it to the internet!!!

My Mum in the red shirt arriving at Thargomindah – she’s finally made it to the internet!!!

Hi to readers of my blog, I need your help!  My old, not so faithful computer died 2 days ago and I am trying to get some of my contacts back through whatever means I can.  So please, if you are a past or future visitor or simply interested in receiving our chatty and informative newsletter all about Kilcowera please send  a quick email to gtsherwin@bigpond.com to register your interest.  Cheers Toni

Driving along the Dingo Barrier Fence our western boundary.
Driving along the Dingo Barrier Fence our western boundary.

As our tourist season draws to its conclusion for 2010 (and I don’t know why as the season and the weather is wonderful), it’s interesting to look back on who and what type of people have been here.  We have a few small tour groups that come every year, Bill, Pamela and Adrian from Outback Bush Adventures based in Adelaide have been visiting for about 6 years now.  Bill has been great, sticking by us through the very dry years we have experienced and has now seen the place looking the way we like to see it – green! 

Then there is the delightful and super organised Maureen, a tour leader with Young at Heart.  They fly into Thargomindah and we pick the group up and bring them out to Kilcowera for the night.  This year they have been flying over the flooded Outback enjoying the spectacle of Lake Eyre, Coongee Lakes and the Bulloo River Overflow as well as Lake Wyara.  There are usually about 12 in the party and we provide meals and tours and Outback hospitality for them.

Young at Heart travellers about to get on their plane after visiting Kilcowera Station.

John Tuckerman who runs Insights Tours also flies out, but lands at Kilcowera as his plane is usually a 6 seater and is not too heavy for our strips.  These passengers get a more in depth tour as we have more time to devote to them.  John usually manages to sneak in a family member on his trips.  He is wonderful to his passengers and is a meticulous pilot – he gets 5 stars from us!  John is third from the left in the photo below.  And that’s us in the big hats.

John Tuckerman from Insights Tours and his passengers about to depart Kilcowera Station.

Birding Services Brisbane has also been coming to Kilcowera for a number of years.  Roy Sonnenberg is the tour leader and owner of this company and does he know his birds!  Every evening at Kilcowera, he and his clients sit around the dining room table and go through all the birds they have seen that day, tick them off on a list and do a running tally on the number of different species seen on the trip.  He gets people from all around the world.  One year he had a Japanese girl who badly wanted to see Budgies in the wild as she had a little caged bird as a pet and loved it dearly.  Not long before his last visit we had put a new road in to a gorge that had been inassessable previously. 

I said to Roy:  “Roy we have a new spot for you to check out, it’s really beautiful and different to anything else on the property!” 

His reply:  “ Toni, we’re not here to look at the scenery, are there any birds there?”  Bird people can be a bit one eyed!

Some birds don't bother too much about making a nest but rely on camouflage.

Carol Proberts  from the Capertee Valley in the Blue Mountains also brings birding groups to Kilcowera for the best of Outback birdwatching.  Her group usually spends 3 or 4 days here, we provide some meals for them and local Knowledge about where bird hot spots might be.  Greg and I both like to tag along with some of the birders some of the time to learn more about our birds.  There are quite a few little brown or grey birds that we haven’t got a clue about, but the birders soon set us straight! 

We also have a couple of tour groups that travel in the 16 or 18 seat four wheel drive buses – Outback Track Tours and It’s Easy Tours.  We love these ones as it usually means a full Shearers Quarters and we do all the meals.  They do the full day tour of Kilcowera in their own vehicle and one of us goes with them for the day to provide commentary and to answer the many questions.

Light planes on the airstrip at Kilcowera Station Outback Queensland.

Margaret Scells, lady pilot extraordinaire, from the MacIntyre Aero Club also brings visitors here by private charter.  She seems to like coming here and we are very fond of her. Margs’ visitors are always nice people.  She has her own plane and her brother Paul flies a helicopter, they also have a farm not too far from Goondiwindi. 

The Variety Club was going to come here this year on one of their smaller bashes but it was too wet and they had to cancel.  I think they are coming next year, weather permitting.  They were here a few years ago and we’ve also had Rotary Clubs, Four Wheel Drive Clubs, Flying Clubs and Camper Trailer clubs.

Members of a car rally arriving at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

This year we have had a lot more people camping than staying in the Quarters, more families, more birdos, photographers and caravanners.  Also quite a few visitors making a repeat visit to see Kilcowera after the fantastic rain we have had.  An unfortunate side effect of the rain was roads being closed both locally and on the station and cancellations as visitors were not able to drive to Kilcowera.  And yes we did have a few people bogged on one of our roads early in the year (that would be Ivan and Sandra in particular!) and so we now close our roads if there is any doubt about them. 

Members of the Royal Geographic Society of Queensland looking around Kilcowera Station.

The Royal Geographic Society of Queensland visited for 2 nights recently and we took them all on a tour of Kilcowera in our little bus and station wagon.  We also cooked a camp oven tea for the four wheel drivers amongst them.  Angela (our youngest daughter) and Glen came down from Quilpie to lend much needed assistance. The campground and quarters were pretty much full up and we even had campers at the lagoon too.

We have also had the RACQ down here twice – one lady locked her keys in the boot and another couples’ Nissan would not start.  A film crew from Sydney was here to get footage of the pelican rookery, they had to leave in a hurry due to wet weather.  They even left a car behind in their haste.  We had a famous Australian author and his lovely wife visiting, but he shall remain nameless as he didn’t sign our visitors book.  All the other guests enjoyed your company Tom – said you were very entertaining.  We also had 2 back packers here for a month helping out, they were a nice young couple, she was French and he was Australian.  Then there was the journo from the Courier Mail and the Entomologist from the Queensland Museum and their photographer.  Their visit culminated in a feature story published in Qweekend about the transformation of the Outback after the wonderful rains and our frog being the cover person.  It was a hoot watching those 3 grown men out on the flat trying to muster that little frog into a good position to have his photo taken.  They were out there for hours.

Our famous little Crucifix Frog - Notaden bennettii  at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

Lots of our visitors have been coming to us from the local VIC and others just dropping in, having seen our signs on the main road, some are using the Camps Australia Wide book which lists stacks of reasonably priced camping spots and some find us through word of mouth.  However they find us, we thank them all for visiting us and hope they enjoy their experience at Kilcowera and come back another time and tell all their friends about us.  And get on the internet and write about us on forums and trip reviews, post their photos, tell about their outback trip on blogs and facebook…………………..

Lucy, stopping briefly to smell the flowers.

Daisies around Lake Wyara, the eastern boundary of Kilcowera Station.
Daisies around Lake Wyara, the eastern boundary of Kilcowera Station.

We are expecting the Royal Geographic Society here tomorrow,  they have not had the best of trips as it rained all over the places they wanted to get to –   Haddon’s Corner, Innamincka and Birdsville in particular but the rain has held off here this time and so they are spending 2 nights instead of the one they had originally booked in for.  

They started with about twenty  4WD vehicles and a 40 seat bus, can you imagine that poor bus driver trying to get that big heavy bus around on the wet dirt roads out there?  A nightmare!  

Well, I’m hoping the visitors will be happy with our campground as it is looking terrific now, with the grass greening up as we speak.

Frog numbers have exploded at Kilcowera Station.

There are a few frogs about at the moment.

Pigface growing around the salt lake on the eastern side of Kilcowera Station.

The pigface above grows in the sandy soils around the salt lake on our eastern boundary.

Tiny daisies growing nearby the shearers quarters at Kilcowera.

This pretty little daisy is growing in large areas, forming a living carpet under Coolabah trees  near the Shearers Quarters.

Swainsona microphylla

Swainsonna microphylla  or Poison Pea, is very common at the moment, growing in the table drains of all our roads.

Fungii growing in my garden at Kilcowera.

More fungii in my garden.

Fungii in my garden at Kilcowera.

These wild little mushrooms were nestling under a pepperina tree in the garden, I reckon they are quite beautiful.

Hardenbergia violacea at Rustlers Roost, Kilcowera Station.

I first found this plant growing at Kilcowera about 15 years ago, but have not seen it flower yet.  I am 90 percent sure it is Hardenbergia violacea.  I am going to have a look at it again soon and am hoping it is flowering so I can be sure.  I belive it is way out of it’s range here. It lives in a relatively  deep, dark gorge we call Rustlers Roost along with some other unusual plants for Kilcowera including, Sheoak and Weeooka.  However I have found it in another place as well.   The joys of discovery – I’m more of a plant person, Greg is better at the birds.  But I did manage to flush out this nice Chestnut Breasted Quail Thrush for Dorothy and Bev.  Thank you Dorothy for the image and I hope the weather is nice on the east coast!

Chestnut Breasted Quail Thrush at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

Eremophilla mitchellii
Eremophilla sturtii flowering at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland

The fantastically wet year we have been enjoying has set spring up to be a truly beautiful wildflower event through out our little corner of the Outback.  It is amazing to see what comes up, and when, given the rain at different times over the years.  We had good precipitation for the first 3 months of the year and then nothing much for the next 3 months (I was getting a bit nervous, thinking of the last 9 years of drought), but in the last 2 months we have had  some good falls again.  So much in fact that most of our station roads and airstrips have been waterlogged on and off during the last few months. Most of the insignificant little bushes have erupted into flower and look stupendous and then there are all the little wildflowers that just seem to come out of nowhere.  The one below is Eremophila bowmanii ( Silver Tukey Bush) and the one after is gilesii or Green Tukey Bush.

Eremophila bowmanii Var. latifolia

Eremophila gilesii

This post I am just going to show as many Eremophila bushes as I have photographed.  Some of these plants are pests but you can nearly forgive them when they flower, they are so gorgeous.

Eremophila alternifolia in Lake Paddock

I think the one above is alternifolia and it is quite a long way out of it’s range, I found it growing on a high rocky escarpment.  It grows on one long skinny stork of a branch right up through the middle of larger Acacia bushes, maybe for protection from being eaten by stock?  All the ones I have seen are growing  like that – through another bush.

Eremophila duttonii  or Halequin Fuscia Bush

Eremophila duttonii or Harlequin Fuscia Bush, these have been flowering for months now, the birds love them.

Eremophila latrobei red form

The one above is latrobeii and is a really neat little bush, would look great in the garden and comes in all shades of red, crimson and tangerine colours.  Below is the  rarer yellow flowering bush.

Eremophila latrobeii yellow form

Below is longifolia or Emu Bush and yes they do really love them and so do the birds especially the Mallee Ringnecks.  The flowers range from a pinky peach colour right through to a brownish peach.

Eremophila longifolia

And lastly another sturtii or False Sandalwood.   Their colours range from nearly white, light pink, dark pink and lilacs and while they are becoming a major woody weed problem in many areas they are very showy when flowering.

Eremophilla mitchelli 2

There are a few more Eremophilas on the place that I don’t have good images of yet including a newly discovered one called oppositifolia  or Weeooka , glabra or Tar Bush, maculata – Spotted Emu Bush and polyclada  or Lignum.  The lignum bushes that survived the drought are now standing in water at the top end of Cardenyabba Lagoon, so I expect they will be flowering soon.  Better go and mow the lawn now as more rain is predicted for tomorrow and if I don’t do it now it’ll be another week before it dries out again!  Well at least we got a mail today – it has been at it’s unreliable best this year.