The most important bit of water infrastructure a station can have.

The most important bit of water infrastructure a station can have.

As you would be aware water is vitally important to us who live in the more arid parts of Australia.  I know it’s important everywhere, but city people do tend to take water for granted except when water levels in dams start making the nightly news.

Not only do we need to take particular care of our stock watering points but our bore water needs special consideration if it is going to do the job domestically too.

The capped  artesian bore situated at our Shearers Quarters was put down in 1962 , the depth is 368 meters , it comes out of the ground at 47 degrees at a rate of 79,200 gallons per day with a pressure of 51.5 PSI.  I know the mixture of imperial and metrics is quaint, but that’s the way it is!

Now in summer that’s way too hot to comfortably have a shower under, so there is a big roll of poly pipe, full of water, underneath the Shearers Quarters that is then attached to two cold taps in one bathroom.  So the first ones to have a shower do get a nice cool one, subsequent bathers will find that the water gets hotter as the pipe refills constantly.  During winter, guests at the Quarters are asked to water the lawn before having their showers!  It gets the water moving through the pipes so they can then enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the 47 degree hot artesian water.

It’s a different story at the homestead which is a mere 1.5 kilometers from the bore.  Water to the house is piped up from the bore in more poly pipe which is buried in the ground about 2 feet down.  During summer the water is far too hot to shower in despite  the pipe being buried, so we have a 500 L cold water tank with a pressure pump attached to it so we can have a cool shower.  In winter we have a solar hot water system because as the pipe is buried the water is cold!  In winter only.  Also in summer when I need lots of water for my garden I find that I have very little pressure or water as the cattle in the next 2 paddocks are slurping away at the water in the troughs.

The outback would be a ghost place if anything were to happen to spoil or contaminate the water of the Great Artesian Basin.  Not only would there be considerably less water for the kangaroos and wallabies, the sheep and cattle industries would be decimated and places like Kilcowera would be unviable and not worth living on.  Hundreds of thousands of people wouldn’t  have jobs as many outback towns depend on the water from the GAB as well.

Camping at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland. Camping at Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland. 

Hungerford Field Day is on every second year in the tiny little town of Hungerford on the NSW, QLD border.  The permanent population fluctuates between about 5 and 7, however every second year the metropolis comes alive in June with visitors from all over the country showing off their wares to an appreciative local crowd.

This year there was Jane the chook lady from Cheepie, bulls from somewhere way down south, rams from somewhere else, kelpies from Cooma along with displays from National Parks and Rural Fire Services.  The NP people had live snakes, bilbies and lizards.  Our youngest daughter was there with the South West Natural Resource Management team showing off their state of the art fishing boat and also various weeds that we all have to be on the alert for. They also had their Sun Oven going, providing smoko for visitors to their display, then they put some chicken pieces in for their lunch.  All very handy considering the caterers for the event were flat out for most of the day.  The chook took ages to cook and they were all starving by the time it was done, the four of them looked like a pack of little cannibals tearing into their chicken pieces with their hands.  No bread, no salad, no serviettes.  Bless their little cotton socks!

There was a display selling all things electrical for the home and office and UHF radios, another with plants, there were work clothes, leather goods, cosmetics, a hairdresser, a business selling steel,  another with tools and gardening implements,  2 wheel motor bikes and quads, locally made jewellery, an opal display,  water pumps and generators, a craft display and haberdashery.  The stock and station agents were there as well trying to drum up a bit of business .

This year I was in the market for a new motor bike unbeknownst to the MOTH, after all my one and only bike in 30 years of wedded bliss and love of the land had turned up its toes two years ago.  So I found a pretty red Honda and bought it.  Just as well I had insisted we go down in the ute, wasn’t it?  He, he,he.   And it was the only thing I bought all day apart from a feed and a beer.

Toni's pretty new motorbike.

Most people drive to the field day but some choose to fly in and there were about eight planes lined up on Hungerford’s beautiful bitumen airstrip. 

 The local publicans, Moc and Sherree provide the all important liquid refreshment during the day.  Thank God for light beer because the incumbent coppers get the breathalyser out and do just about everyone leaving the grounds.  There’s a booze bus for those who have had a few too many but lots of people camp at the grounds for the night and so, have no worries about getting picked up. 

Early in the evening there is the big auction for the RFDS – all the exhibitors donate something to be auctioned off with all the proceeds going to keep the Doctor flying.  It raises a lot of money too, as everyone is pretty happy by the start of the auction and ready to bid.  Then the band kicks in, playing on the stage which is the trailer of a truck.

And so the night goes on with some kicking their heels up in the dust, others valiantly drinking on in the freezing night air while standing around the firedrums, arguments, tall stories, plenty of yarns, some trying to sleep  and lots of sore heads guaranteed in the morning.  Nothing that a good big greasy breakfast won’t fix.  But hell, that sunlight is bright first thing in the morning when you stick your head out of the swag!

 Years ago we won a fruit tray at the field day and carefully put it near our swags which were also carefully put inside a post and rail yard originally intended for horses.  We put all the rails up, so no horses could get in and just knew we would be safe that night, tucked up in our swags after the auction and the nights socializing.  No cars would run over us, no horses could stand on us, we would be safe, even if a little inebriated!  You have to plan ahead with this sort of thing! 

 Morning comes around and we can hear munch, munch, snort, munch but don’t really want to put our heads out in the freezing cold to see what’s making all that noise.  We eventually discover it is the local town pony helping himself to the fruit tray and  it’s nearly all gone.   Rules don’t apply to pets such as him – under the fence, stepping delicately around the comatose beings in the swag and into the apples, mangos and pears thank you very much!

Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia.