The former athletic gate on Kilcowera Station

The former athletic gate on Kilcowera Station

I always have a bit of a giggle to myself when the odd visitor whinges about the gates on the drive into Kilcowera.  All three of them.  There has been many a suggestion about putting ramps or grids in to make the experience more user friendly.  Hard luck!  The middle gate on the way in was a real doozy – unless you knew just how to treat it, it would give the unwary a pretty good workout.  You bring one side to the middle, head over to the other half and by the time you have it in the middle the first half has swung open again.  We in the bush call these athletic gates. Rest easy – it is perfectly balanced now and operates in a perfectly boring and mundane manner. One chap commented it was worth the camping fee just to watch his wife doing battle with it!

Back in the eighties there were 14 gates on the road to town.  But being young and enthusiastic this didn’t deter us one iota.  After all the bloke always drove and the missus and the kids did the gates!  The only exception was if the missus was getting a bit long in the tooth or was done up in her finery and had high heels on.  But this was a rarity.  The other exception was when the missus had to both, drive home in the dark and do the gates because himself had a load on and was snoring in the seat next to her!

We had one gate not too far from the house at the back of the horse paddock, made of wire and logs.  I swear it was the heaviest and most cumbersome gate ever invented.  Only a few years ago Greg replaced it with a swinging gate so our visitors had an easier time with it.  But I know the ulterior motive was so the bloody thing would be shut properly, not in some half baked way because they couldn’t work out what to do with it!

This is something we have noticed over the years – people can undo a gate, but getting it back together the correct way is much more challenging!  I suppose we all have our fields of expertise.

Dingo Barrier Fence workers, Outback accommodation, Kilcowera Station

Dingo Barrier Fence workers, Outback accommodation, Kilcowera Station

Doing a water run on the place also entails opening and shutting lots of them – sometimes up to  twenty ! The Dingo Barrier Fence boys have perfected the art of not going through anymore gates than they have to on their inspections of the fence.  After all they don’t have to pay for the fuel and it’s not their car they are driving.  They will drive 10 times the distance to get somewhere and to get out of opening and shutting a gate.  And there are always two of them, so it’s not like it’s one bloke has to open the gate, get back in the car, drive through and shut the gate.

We just live with them, they don’t bother us too much, the gates are there, they need to be open and shut and that’s all there is to it.

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The new VIC, Library, coference centre and Coffee Shop in Thargomindah

The new VIC, Library, conference center and Coffee Shop in Thargomindah

Thargo just never seems to look back, its workforce works mainly for the local council or one other entrepreneurial business in town and it’s a little town that just keeps growing and growing in both size and population.

The streets get bigger, the footpaths get wider, more and more lovely little houses get built, there are 2 caravan parks, a pub, a motel and restaurant, the community centre, a Toyota dealership, a roadhouse and lots of other businesses.

The new Administation building is taking shape in Thargomindah

The new Administation building is taking shape in Thargomindah

 

And now the Bulloo Shire is building a new Administration building and has just recently completed the new visitor information centre, library and coffee shop.  Another 25 blocks of land are also to be developed and put up for public tender in the near future.

Coffee shop for Thargo

Coffee shop for Thargo

It is an interesting town where visitors can see lots of dogs, horses, some nice old buildings, a demonstration at the older town bore, have a great coffee at the new shop OR one of the best burgers you’ll ever eat at Fergies Roadhouse!  The locals are generally friendly and helpful, showing typical outback hospitality to nice visitors.

A great feature of the town is also the colourful display of flowers in the middle of the streets and around some of the buildings.

The visitor info centre has plenty of comfy chairs!

The visitor info centre has plenty of comfy chairs!

The VIC is a bit light on for info still but I was told they are waiting for some more shelving to arrive so as to put more stuff out.  A little observation from me, the girls at this new center were lovely and obliging but they all would look soo much better in some sort of uniform! NOT cut off jeans, T shirts and thongs.  Just a bit smarter to reflect their surroundings.

 

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.

Benanga Creek flowing into Lake Wyara , March 2012 at Kilcowera Station.

Benanga Creek flowing into Lake Wyara , March 2012 at Kilcowera Station.

Driving home yesterday the radio presenter was telling her audience that she had had a bad week, a week not to be repeated.  She asked if her listeners would like to call in and share the good or bad stories of their last week.  So I got too thinking about my week and realised that I had had a rather interesting one.  So I will inflict it upon you too!!

I’ll start with Monday.

 It is still very wet around here and Greg has not been able to check on the agistment cattle in the Lake Paddock as he can’t drive out to the east.  Couldn’t even ride a bike out there. The airstrip had dried out sufficiently for me to take off, so I happily went to check things out in the little Skyfox.  Saw lots of cows, 4 bulls fighting and hanging around a trough which had no water in it.  Surely the idiots will poke off and find a drink somewhere!  There is water everywhere but in that trough!  The creeks out there all ran very big and the fences have been washed down again.  But the cows have not gone out that far –  yet, so hopefully they will stay on Kilcowera and not wander onto the National Park or the neighbours place.  Greg will get out there as soon as he can to fix the fences. I could not see any cattle tracks on the wrong side of the fence or cattle for that matter.

 What I did see however was thousands of pelicans on the islands on Lake Wyara, so they are back again, for the third year in a row.  Oh thank God that rotten, horrible drought is over!  I changed the oil in the plane when I landed and helped to feed the mickey bulls who are waiting to be put on a truck for the saleyards.

Tuesday saw me tootling up the road to do my weekly cleaning job for the elderly couple at Wathopa, an 80 kilometre round trip.   I swear I do a better job on cleaning house there than I do here!  That afternoon I was cleaning the quarters trying to get things ready for our visitors.  And repainting signs.

Wednesday – Greg drove me into town over the flooded and washed out Gerrygheroo Creek crossing and I caught a commercial flight to Toowoomba to pick up my abandoned mini bus.  But it wasn’t all smooth sailing as there was a storm over the TWBA airport so we had to land at the Oakey Military Base and be bussed to TWBA.

  Thursday – the fun part, shopping all day!  Buying such things as a new TV as the one that we had can’t go digital.  Oil filters, batteries, groceries, beer, wine, and a haircut were all on the agenda.  And then there is the packing of the bus, after all if you just keep throwing the stuff in you won’t get as much in, as you would if you are meticulous about it.  So I am.  I also went to a tyre place just to check that I had the correct amount of air in the tyres as I have a big load in  the poor little thing.

Friday –   I took the bus to a radio place and had a UHF radio installed in it.  Greg has been going to put one in ever since we have had it (a few years now), I buy the radios off ebay but they seem to get put into some other vehicle or bike.  So it’s done now!

More shopping, then drive to Dalby.  Friday arvo I am buying fruit and veg, and meat (yummy things like pork and chicken and fish and lamb – we get sick of beef!)  Just on dark and I have nearly finished packing the bus up, cold stuff in, with lots of ice blocks and the eskies taped up ready for the drive home tomorrow.   Keep checking the weather, the monsoon trough is heading further south every day and more cloud is coming in from the west, will I make it home before it rains again???

Saturday – Leave Dalby at 5am and drive straight through to St George, a quick stop for breakfast (a pie!) and to deliver our new  brochures to the Visitor information Centre.  More deliveries are made at Bollon, Cunnamulla and Eulo, some rain on the way but no worries and no water over the road to speak of.  The last 100 kilometers on our dirt road was a breeze even though I was seriously tired.  The contractors are back on the job at Gerrygheroo,  I hope they get it fixed this time, they have been working on it for months and then it rains and washes the crossing away again and they go away for two weeks and then it rains again….and the bloody road is closed once more – we don’t get any mail, visitors can’t get here, we can’t truck our cattle and so it goes on……………………..and on.

But all up a good week!

We call this the Red Hole and have a nice drive for visitors to get to it.

Red-backed Kingfisher on the wing, Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia

Red-backed Kingfisher on the wing, Kilcowera Station, Outback Australia

Once again these lovely images are from Nevil Lazarus.  These sweet little birds can be found just about all over Australia.

Red-backed  Kingfisher,  Kilcowera Station, Outback Queensland.

Just how cute can a bird be?

Red-backed Kingfisher,  Kilcowera Station on the Dowling Track SW Queensland.

Red-backed Kingfisher, Kilcowera Station on the Dowling Track SW Queensland.

They often sit up on the power lines, calling out in a mournful little voice.  I think, because they are always alone they are looking for love.  And I’m certain they find it too!