Christmas and New Year in The Avon Valley

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100807

Our time at Church Gully Alpacas at Coondle has been a pleasant stay and we knew the way when we arrived at the fork in the road.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

P1100795

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

With 14 alpaca to feed daily plus 12 hens and Brewster the rooster, our house sit charges have been Mintu and his sister Rahni who are two Burmese cats. Two pet kangaroos, Tiannan and Trevor were also keen to eat the alpaca muesli and the occasional apple or three. They were visited by Oscar, a big buck roo plus an equally big unnamed challenger  to his domain.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

P1100825Rahni

chrissy-hamWe enjoyed a quiet and food filled Christmas on the farm and were invited to spend New Year’s Eve with the next door neighbour Lyn and her father Wally and some friends. We bailed out at about 11 pm and awoke the next morning to a warm New Year’s day.

We have experienced several 40 deg plus days at Coondle and have been grateful for the air-conditioning.

It has been a good opportunity to catch up on minor maintenance jobs in The Burrow and to get the Chariot serviced and a wheel alignment done.    Thanks Daniel for our Chrissy present!

We had a trip to Midland for some shopping and also drove the round trip through Northam, York, Cunderdin, Meckering  and Toodyay back to the farm.

P1100785

 

 

 

P1100776Main-Street-Toodyay(345)_scaled

 

 

P1100789Meckering Earthquake Memorial Garden

Having spent time in Cunderdin in 1968 it was interesting to see the changes and growth over time.

On 9th Jan 2017 our house sit owners, Cath and John, returned from overseas and we packed up and headed for Bullsbrook via Northam Hospital. Dawn has been clawed by Mintu and her foot was swollen and infected.

After a 4 hour session at the hospital and a body full of antibiotics we picked up scripts in Northam and arrived at Bullsbrook late in the afternoon.

We are looking after a farm here until the end of January and then will move on for another house sit for a week in Mandurah before heading south to Busselton and beyond.

BREWSTER CALLS

Brewster the rooster is no goose and certainly no turkey,

Even though he wakes us up at around about three thirty.

With 12 girls in the henhouse it’s a cry for help we hear,

As Brewster crows his morning call of “Get me out of here!”

“I need some help in here” he calls with much a do

Followed by a plaintiff plea of “Any cock ‘ll do!”

Some rowdy cackling then is heard across the Coondle hills

As Brewster’s girls all stir him up and magnify his ills.

Coondle. Dec 2016 © TCD

Wheatbelt Ramblings

Tue 6/12  In Wongan Hills we walked up to Mt O’Brien Lookout with 360 deg views around the district including Lake Ninan and Lake Hinds.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100695p1100696

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100710

Wed 7/12 10 km west of Wongan Hills we walked the track at Gathercole Rock Reserve.This granite outcrop is typical of so many throughout the wheat belt and we saw a few shingle back lizards and a glimpse of a dragon lizard. The track was very vague in places but we found our way along the 3.1 km walk in just over 1 hr which was a good work out. Some of the rock formations are very interesting. A low rock wall was constructed along parts of the rock to direct water to a reservoir and then to the old water tower beside the railway line. It was used to provide water for the steam engines and is now used to water the town’s parks and gardens

Finished back in town at the bakery for a coffee and lemon tart.

Thursday 8/12. Spent the day in camp.

Friday 9/12 Drove out to Lake Ninan which is 6 times more salty than the sea and there is not much life there.

We have been fascinated by a council street sweeper who seems to spend all day going around the Wongan Hills town streets. We have called him Harry:

ONYA HARRY

Something’s happened to Harry, he can’t get off his seat.

He drives around throughout the town keeping it all neat.

You see him coming and going every single day.

It couldn’t happen as it does without his council pay.

The main street gets some extra sweeps as up and down he goes

In his motorised street sweeper he keeps them on their toes.

Wongan Hills has such clean streets with not a speck of dust,

A testament to Harry who could well send them bust.

Now stop your smarty comments you bunch of narky clowns,

Don’t you know we’re entered in the quest for tidy towns?

Dec 2016 © TCD

We are under the daily flight path of some regular local flyers:

AERIAL CONTORTIONISTS

They camp tonight at Christmas Rock, performing crazy aerobatics.

Shrieking with glee as they tumble and fall to rise again as one,

With bellies full of wheat they come, after a day in the burning sun.

The leader’s call is echoed as in the Salmon Gums they land,

Midst incessant squawks and chatter it can’t possibly be planned.

Early twilight glows reflecting on their feathers pink and grey,

As in changing light they settle after another hectic day.

At the crack of dawn 500 shrieks create a rowdy rabble,

They all rise as one together and flap off amongst wheat stubble.

 Galahs dine today in Wongan Hills, with more kamikaze antics,

Abandoning the rule book, for they don’t need to be pedantic.

Wongan Hills Dec 2016 © TCD

From Wongan Hills we moved on to Calingiri, to spend the week before our farm sit which is over Christmas and New Year.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

We took a day trip over to Northam to see the silos and for some shopping, and dropped into Toodyay to pick up mail.

We have also been across to New Norcia for a look around and a walk across the Monk’s farmland by the river, and walked around Calingiri township.

new-norcia-church apiary-and-well

A visit to Bindoon scored some fresh apricots and rhubarb from the farmer’s markets.

The activity here with the coming and going of wheat trucks into the rail siding is amazing and gives some insight into the quantity of grain harvested in the wheat belt. An estimated 70 million tonnes is this year’s crop, and the trucks are passing over the weighbridge from daylight until well after dark.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

baled-stubble

Unloading truck containing barley grains into a grid at CHB Esperance

p1100720

Here we are at Coondle ( arriving 19th Dec ). The farm is lovely and very peaceful and we are looking after 14 alpaca, 13 chooks and 2 Burmese cats plus 2 pet kangaroos. More on all of that in the next post.

Reflections after a year on the road

TWELVE MONTHS OF SMILES

Some notable things have happened while we’ve been on the road,

Like the local staggering towards us in the middle of the road,

With his T shirt pulled up over his head against the burning sun

And a road train bearing down behind him he didn’t even run.

He staggered left just off the track and saved his skin instead,

Then staggered back behind the truck and carried on ahead.

 

Three lively lads and an ice cream van really quite amused me:

“Three ice creams please on credit and we’ll pay you for them Tuesday.”

 

“A coffee mate you’re joking, she’s all shut at lunchtime, nobody’s bloody open.”

In Grafton town we found it so, for he had rightly spoken.

 

“Gidday mate and what’s your name?”  asked the kid at Mataranka.

I told him mine and asked him his, “ I’m Malachi and this here’s Bubra thankya.”

He chatted a bit then had to go and head on back to camp,

To a humpy behind the tank stand in a spot that looked quite damp.

 

A murder of crows was marching in Brim right near the silo,

About 30 strong they marched along and flying seemed a no no.

 

A  back packer breakfast on The Murray was turned into a flurry

As a drop kooka stole it from their midst and took off in a hurry.

 

Baby galah’s dad nudged him up the tree, coaxing him ever higher,

You’ll soon see what I’m doing son when you turn into a flyer.

 

At Bitter Springs the water’s warm with floating the thing to do

And an evening around the campfire with Robbo’s didgeridoo.

 

To Barry’s songs at Bullara after damper with Damper John,

And jokes to split your sides as the evening moved along.

 

“We dint got no lecric, you got lecric?” The camper came and asked.

I checked and plugged it in for him. It was a simple task.

 

A circus at the dump point in Alice Springs we found

With a wayward toilet cassette getting quite a crowd around.

As “lecric’s “ mate and his missus kicked and shoved in vain

Struggling to get that cassette back into their van.

Finally a toilet brush was found to be the culprit.

It had blocked their way defiantly until a helper found it.

 

“I love this travelling around mate but my wife is not so sure,

She keeps on rolling out of bed and landing on the floor.”

After helping him set up his van so it was properly leveled

They each slept just like babes that night and didn’t wake disheveled.

 

In Ballarat the music flowed at The Aussie Jazz Convention

But our New Year’s Eve Party should really rate a mention

Just on dark in the caravan park the hillbillies appeared

With gummy smiles and hairy dials, and big dogs to be feared.

 

 

We enjoyed some good fishing when at Woodside Beach we stopped

In a park so full of rabbits that everywhere they hopped.

 

In Stawell they’re used to runners and most of them are fit

But a couple of local police raids saw our neighbours do a flit.

 

Haircuts have been a challenge as we travel state to state

With a recent one in Moora the worst one up to date.

A quick glance in the mirror brought a shout of “holy crap”

And a hurried rush outside,  to set the wild dog trap.

 

No doubt there will be more to come but it’s time to rest a while.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these musings and that they have helped you smile.

 

December 2016 C TCD

 

Welcome to The Wheat belt

November 29th saw us leave Nambung Station and drive across to Moora. It was my first time back there since 1969.

The council caravan park is very good and Shirley the caretake is a credit to the town and the park.

moora harvesting-wheat wheat-siding

The wheat harvest is almost finished in Moora for this year and has been a good one.

We walked the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo Walk here where they are encouraging these endangered cockies back with tree plantings and artificial nest boxes.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100681 p1100680 p1100684

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have seen the Carnabys in a number of areas now from Lake Indoon, Eneabba, Half Way Mill Roadhouse and across to Nambung.

After 5 days in Moora we spent a night in Ballidu and have headed south to Wongan Hills. There are still thousands of acres of wheat to strip and it is good to hear of the good yields this season.

ballidu-sign p1100686

This morning we went on The Christmas Rock Walk through bush land above Wongan Hills town. A small rock wall was built along parts of the rock to direct rain water into a dam used to supply water for steam engine boilers. The council now use it for town parks and gardens watering.

p1100695 p1100696

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

There are still some wildflowers to be seen even though we are now getting into summer and definitely getting warmer days.

p1100694 p1100691 p1100692 p1100688

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

quondong-treeQuondong Tree

We will stay in the wheat belt for the next couple of weeks finishing up in Toodyay where we are looking after a small alpaca stud for about 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year.

Nambung Station Stay

Drove via Jurien Bay and Cervantes to Nambung Station where we received a warm welcome from the manager Sonia, and set up camp for 5 days. The weather was warm and windy for all but our last day when we took the tour with Sonia to The Painted Desert and The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park.

p1100670 p1100664

 

 

 

p1100660 p1100665 p1100669

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

On the trip across the station we encountered kangaroos and emus and arrived at a part of the park which is accessible only from the station side. It was a memorable and informative visit thanks to Sonia who has a lifetime of knowledge about the area and its flora and fauna.

 

 

p1100630

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100629

 

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100619

 

p1100632 p1100679 p1100677

 

Our time here inspired another poem and I will let it do the talking:

Nambung Station Stay in WA

So come to Nambung Station

Where stars fill the night time sky,

Where Brian musters his merinos

With a dog with a very strong eye.

There is a big fat cat at Nambung,

Big Boo is truly his name,

His mate is a dog called Tilly,

She was born out in the rain.

The alpaca are Barney and Fee

And their cries make Sonia’s day,

As some of the crew that lives here

At Nambung Station Stay.

 

There’s a quarter horse called Goldie

More brown really than roan.

Keeping company with alpaca

Really makes him groan.

Beside him in the next paddock

Two goats for him to enjoy,

As Billy and Nanny are dancing

Like The Wild Colonial Boy.

 

The pet sheep are Ewe and Wether

And they didn’t come very near,

Due to respect for a bull named Nelson

Whose bellow causes them fear.

He comes from the stud Waterloo,

A solid lump of a boy,

Whose mate  Half Nelson too

Is also a bull to annoy.

 

Donkeys Jenny, Jaffa and Kelly

Are ready to make you aware,

That they love a scratch and a cuddle

And some ruffling of their hair.

There are Carnaby’s Cockies and parrots,

Shingleback lizards there too,

Plus a Western Longneck Tortoise

Brian will bring to show you.

 

Take the tour to The Painted Desert

With Kangaroos seen on the way,

Old man emu with little ones fleeing

As they rapidly raced on their way.

Sand dunes and pinnacles are amazing

With words so few to describe,

And we say a thank you to Sonia

For taking us all for the ride.

 

So spend some time at Nambung

And enjoy the shifting sands,

Plus a different view of the pinnacles

Amidst unique expansive lands.

Learn of native flora and fauna

And learn to rest a while

Right here at Nambung Station

It’s certain to make you smile.

 

 

 

 

Site Hopping Down The West Coast

Leaving Geraldton on Tue 8 November we drove out to Ellendale Pool and after a walk and some photos we were one of two there for a peaceful night.p1100533

Awaking to an overcast morning we heard the hum of bees in the flowering gums.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

p1100536Leaving in a light shower of rain we drove via the Alinta Wind Farm to Walkaway and onto Dongara where we stayed for 4 nights at The Tourist Park at Port Dennison.

 

p1100537

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

Coffee and a muffin in town proved tasty at the Fig Tree Café and we had a look around town and a shop. We tried several fishing spots with no success as the wind was threatening to blow a dog off its chain, and there was a lot of weed on the beaches. I grabbed the bait bag for one trip and we arrived at the beach to find that I had picked up a bag of fried rice, so that was yet another successful fishing expedition!!

p1100540Sunday 13th saw us on the road again for a 30 minute run down the coast to Cliff Head North where we set up along a bush track just off the beach. Had a swim before the wind got up again.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Saw our first Rainbow Bee Eater and Dawn took a great photo of it. We had intended to stay 3 nights there but the wind, flies and weed on the beach won out and we packed up after 2 nights and drove across to Lake Indoon to a nice site beside the lake with less flies and only 4 other campers.

p1100544We had a full day’s rain while at Lake Indoon which washed away the red dust and we looked almost new again. We experienced the strongest wind we had encountered on over 12 months and were glad to not be on the coast.

After 4 nights there on Saturday 19th we travelled 11 km to Eneabba Recreation Ground, which is a very good council run site with heaps of room, good amenities including nice hot showers and access to water. Dinner on Sunday evening was at the Miner’s Camp Canteen and is an all you can eat buffet for a great value $10 a head.

The surrounding countryside is a well-known wild flower area and we drove the loop road through Three Springs and Carnamah and took many photos. Although the main flower season has finished there are still many to see and later flowering varieties are fresh to see.

 

p1100584p1100576

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100550

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100605p1100562

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

After 3 nights in Eneabba we have popped 26 km down the road to Half Way Mill Roadhouse for a couple of nights before heading to Nambung Station for our next sojourn.

p1100613We have been welcomed at the roadhouse by a big mob of black cockatoos who are currently destroying the fresh tips on a few gum trees.

 

 

 

 

Time to catch up on the blog, do some washing and ironing and bake some bread. The next couple of weeks will be unpowered again as we head south to a station stay and then out into the wheat belt.

p1100545p1100611

Hamelin Station Stay & on to Geraldton

After saying our goodbyes at Wooramel, on Tuesday 25/10/16,  we drove into a head wind to Hamelin, and booked in for their final 6 nights of the season.

p1100486Hamelin Station is now a Bush Heritage site and has been virtually de-stocked of the remaining 17,000 sheep and goats. The camp was fairly exposed as there are few trees above scrub height, but it was very clean and tidy and the amenities are excellent.

 

 

 

We caught up with Joseph and Rhonda who gave us some good tips on places to visit between the camp and Denham. It was very windy and we put up one end of the annexe to get some respite.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Our drive to Denham on Wednesday included visits to Shell Beach and Eagle Bluff on the way. Shell Beach is covered in tiny Hamelin Cockle shells up to 10m deep in places and stretching for 120 km. In times past the compressed shells were used as building blocks. The homestead at Hamelin is built out of them and we saw other examples in buildings in Denham.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Eagle Bluff has an excellent boardwalk along the cliff top with views down into the clear waters below.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

14,000 dugong graze the seagrasses of Shark Bay.

p1100453

Denham proved to be a lovely seaside village where we collected our forwarded mail ( thanks Amz).p1100450

We  had a fish, chips and salad lunch, and one of the worst haircuts that we have had in 12 months.

The following few days were spent visiting Hamelin Pool where we walked the boardwalk through the microbial mats and stromatolites. The sea is twice as salty in this bay due to sand banks  restricting the outward flow of water at low tide. Evaporation concentrates the salt level and the stromatolites have been able to survive with minimal attack from predators. Their origins were 3.5 billion years ago. Over billions of years, a complex interaction between climate and environment at Hamlin Pool has created the miracle of “living fossils “ called stromatolites.

p1100468p1100459

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The lake at Hamelin Station was a wealth of birdlife and provided an interesting and easy walk.p1100471

A visit to the old 8 stand wool shed provided some history on the station and local area. Hamelin Station is almost the size of the ACT at 202,000 hectares.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

We experienced a couple of Willy Willys, one which came through the camp kitchen while we were there, blew open doors and cleaned out any loose articles with one violent gust. They only side swiped our camp and left everything covered in shell grit but with no damage thankfully.

p1100479Again the sunsets have been terrific and we continue to see so many variations due to local cloud and terrain.p1100484

 

Monday 31/10 saw us on the road to Northampton where we had planned to spend a week at Northbrook Farm Stay. Changed our minds when we arrived and stayed one night before driving on to Geraldton.

p1100502

 

 

p1100513p1100516

 

p1100514p1100528p1100522

We have been here a week with walks around the foreshore, visits to The Sydney II Memorial, Western Australian Museum and Old Gaol, each very good in their own right.

A couple more poems materialised whilst at Hamelin:

WILLY OR WONTY?

” What’s a willy willy? ”

“Don’t get personal with me or I’ll spin you off into the bush and toss you up a tree.”

HOW OLD IS THAT?

I met a bloke at Hamlin Pool where Stromatolites are found.

He reckons they’ve been around for three and a half billion years.

He’d know I reckon by looking at him, he was dry behind the ears.

His face was wizened like a prune, his knowledge must be sound.

With an old burnt stick he’d made his note, it was history in the making.

Unwittingly he turned out to be the first with carbon dating.

So there we have it, now we know, the answer no more a teaser,

Because of the records long ago kept safe by this old geezer.

Hamelin October 2016

 

Wooramel

p1100413Tuesday 11/10/16 and it was a windy drive south from Carnarvon to Wooramel Station, on the Wooramel River. Another upside down river which flows only 2-3 times a year, and then for only a few days at a time.

We received a warm welcome from Angie, followed by a warm 36 degree day, and booked in for a week.

The flies were very friendly and we ate under “the bridal veil “.

p1100414The hot water artesian spas here are 33 degrees out of the ground and are in a great setting for happy hour.

We were up early on Wednesday and gathered some wood in the river bed.

 

 

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Cooked a loaf of bread in the weber, and a lamb roast in the camp oven. Each camp site here has a fire place. Another 36 degree day, but the wind had eased quite a bit. Baby galah were being fed in the trees around us and we spotted a pair of sacred kingfishers.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100384

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Thursday saw us setting off on a drive around part of the station, and a visit to the old woolshed which had its last shearing in 2006. The property now runs Dorper/Damara sheep which don’t need shearing, as they shed what wool they have, and are breed for their meat.

Friday we did the riverside walk and wandered around the historical tip where Dawn spotted an echidna. After a long walk we enjoyed our soak in the spa.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Saturday 15/10 was very windy again and we went for a bush walk across the river where we came across acres of discarded grape vines and infrastructure. ( More on this later).p1100417

 

We had drinks with our neighbours, Laurie and Paula and then put up the full annexe, for the first time, as protection against the wind and to stop the gas fridge blowing out.

 

p1100400

We met the red wine drinking moth which can empty a glass in one dive. “Rouge vin extractus.”

 

Sunday was spent in camp battened down against the wind, and on Monday we extended our stay for a further week. Walked about 8 km to a stock water hole and windmill and saw some red roos on the way home, after crossing the river to return to camp.

p1100423

 

Another soak in the spa and we caught up with “Damper John” on his way home from Bullara. We cooked another camp oven dinner and shared some stories together.

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100420

 

 

 

p1100380

At happy hour on Wednesday, I read a poem which I had written following our visit to the woolshed. Justin and Rachael invited us to share dinner with them the following night at the homestead, and Justin explained about the grape vines. They had been successful for 25 years supplying table grapes, earlier than most, into the Australian market. The operation had continued to expand and employ a considerable number of people. The “wise government” of the day signed a free trade agreement and the U.S. dumped grapes onto the market here at less than the cost of production. The whole deal folded.

When we were at Bullara we learned that they were almost forced off the land when the Gillard Gov’t pulled the pin overnight on live-stock export to Indonesia. They lost almost 2 years income thanks to that ill-conceived move. We have heard so many similar stories while staying on properties and in country towns over the past year. I was prompted to write yet another poem, Polly Tishuns.

Dinner at the homestead with Justin, Rachael and family was a special occasion and they asked me to read the poems, which are included at the end of this post. Their two girls performed some great karaoke and dance routines for us.

Saturday was Dawn’s birthday and we celebrated with a special brekkie omelette, fresh baked bread and a camp oven roast beef dinner. Our neighbours, Joseph and Rhonda from Sunshine Coast, Greg and Sue from Perth and Graham from Yamba joined us around the camp fire after dinner for a yarn.

p1100427

 

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I went on a drive out to Hackett’s Bend with Neil who was checking the bore water troughs and re-setting the windmills. We saw emus, goats, dorper sheep and of course the AngusxDroughtmaster cattle which are run here.

One of the baby galahs fell out of its nest and we gave it some food and water and put it up in a tree for mum to feed.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Yet another poem materialised.

On Tuesday 25th we said our goodbyes and after filling The Burrow’s tanks with bore water we set off for Hamelin Station further south.

This has been another very memorable stay with some lovely people whose hearts are wedded to this unique part of Australia.

GHOSTS OF WOORAMEL

Green leaves shimmer in the harsh sunlight beside the upturned river,

Silver gums say that water passed this way, an inland rain the giver.

Trunks and flailing limbs frozen in time, gleam a silvery white,

A burst of red gives way to lesser lights as sentinels of the night.

Gums now glow with a ghostly sheen bathed in softer beams,

And a gentle breeze allows the trees to speak their secret dreams.

Murmurings gently fill the air as galahs bed down their young.

Night softly settles as spirits sway to the rhythm of songs once sung.

The shadows of shearers long since gone, soon make the numbers swell,

Revealing tales of the history here, these Ghosts of Wooramel.

Of mobs so big and so far flung they took a month to muster

Another month to see them shorn with a minimum of fluster.

Tales of ringers, rousies, pressies, penner uppers and shearer’s cooks

Of bullock trains and dreams of rains, of sweat and dirty looks.

Of a ringer setting a cracking pace to be beaten with a cheer.

Of aching backs and sweat filled eyes and longing for a beer.

Tales of friendship, love and mateship, in this unforgiving land,

Of attempts to rule and master it beside the river filled with sand.

So many stories, some so grand, they make your heart to swell

To the sounds and sense of belonging, with the Ghosts of Wooramel.

October 2016

C TCD

POLLY TISHUNS

Sounds like a woman trying to sneeze!

They have major parties and often get quite raucous some of them even form a bloody caucus.

“What do they care?” asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

Knowing that the family could be leaving the farm because the pollies and fat cats were doing them harm.

“Why do they do it?” Asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

“Where’s the sense in ploughing all the crops into the ground, all because the pollies thought to change the rules around?”

“What can we do? “asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

“We’ve beaten fires, droughts and cyclones and even flooding rain. Be buggered if we’ll let these jerks send us down the drain.

With their well-lined pockets and endless superannuation. Let’s tell ém where to shove it Dad and show some dedication.”

“So how can we do it?” asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

Hoping to inspire him, to lift his flagging spirits, as these bloody polly tishuns were giving him the irrits.

With many markets weakened or dried up beyond the pail, the banks were squeezing hard and there were letters in the mail.

“I’ll sell my little pony and give up school a while, to stand with you and fight ém.” said the lad with half a smile.

Dad smiled a loving smile and his chest puffed out with pride, “there’s no way that we will leave here with you standing at my side.”

“I know that we can do it.” Said the bright eyed lad pleased to see some brightness in his dear old Dad.

“Let’s take each day one at a time and see how we are led, we can oust these polly tishuns and leave them all for dead.”

October 2016

C TCD

 

THE LITTLE AUSSIE BATTLER

Poof! That was a hell of a drop with the landing not the best.

A ten metre fall ended with a flop when I fell out of my nest.

Thanks for putting me in the tree, I’ll try to climb up high

To where my mum will find me and teach me how to fly.

Thanks again for putting me back and for the drink and feed.

Sorry I bit your finger Jack, I hope it didn’t bleed.

Mum found me there and fed me while Dad nudged me even higher.

I’m getting so much stronger see and soon I’ll be a flyer.

I slipped and fell and tried again with pink and grey feathers flustered.

I think I’ll beat this flying game before it gets me busted.

Wooramel.October 2016

C TCD

Farewell Bullara and Hello Carnarvon

p1100315After bidding our hosts farewell we left Bullara Station and headed for Carnarvon, on Tuesday 4 October, via Minilya where the wildflowers were quite spectacular.

Our first job was to wash the red dust from The Burrow and The Chariot.

 

 

p1100314 p1100346

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100355

 

After collecting our mail we had a look around the town and foreshore with a walk along the Fascine.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

p1100359p1100360

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

p1100344

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Gascoyne River is an upside down river.

Our few days here included a visit to the Overseas Telecommunications Centre and Apollo Tracking Station plus a trip out to the Quobba blowholes and HMAS Sydney 11 Memorial where we spotted several whales ofshore.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The local growers markets and a couple of farm gate stops produced some fresh fruit and veges at very good prices.

A fishing trip to Pelican Point landed a queenfish which was very tasty.

We have now been on the road for 12 months and celebrated with a fresh batch of scones a la Weber.

We are both looking forward to our next stop at Wooramel Station which is 120km south of Carnarvon.

Bullara, Coral Bay and Exmouth

p1100197From Dampier we travelled 161 km south to Robe River for an overnight stop on Wed 14th, travelling on the next day to Bullara Station located between Coral Bay and Exmouth.

p1100190We had stops along the way to photograph wildflowers and to top up fuel at Nanutarra Roadhouse.

 

 

 

 

p1100272The welcome at Bullara was lovely and we selected a camp spot aided by John our camp host. It was a shaded and partly sheltered spot which we booked for 5 nights. We wound up extending to nearly 3 weeks.

 

 

 

p1100242We joined other campers around the camp fire at 5pm for happy hour and damper.

This became a ritual as John ( Damper John) cooked damper 6 nights a week.

He has been coming here from Victoria for a number of years and is part of the family.

 

 

p1100244

 

Bullara is a quarter of a million acres running 3500 Droughtmaster cattle and is a third generation family enterprise.

Dennis and Colleen who recommended the place to us were there. We had met them at Vince Connolly Crossing NT.

While on Bullara we visited both Exmouth and Coral Bay a couple of times.

 

 

p1100234We snorkelled over Ningaloo Reef and explored the small township of Coral Bay. Swimming with the fish and also a baby dolphin was special. Exmouth was more of a fuel and provision stop, plus haircut marathon. My flat top took over one hour to complete!!!

We fished at Learmonth, opposite the RAAF base, in Exmouth Gulf and drove up onto the Cape Range for views back over the gulf where humpback whales and their calves were seen out to sea.

p1100237

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Coffee and scones jam and cream enticed us to The Homestead on more than one occasion.

kooda-2It was there that we met Kooda, the pet red kangaroo.

Kooda means little mate.

p1100214A few Dorper/Damara sheep are also present as remnants of the flock which was sold off due to attacks from wild dogs. Friday nights were sausage sizzle time at the old woolshed.

 

 

 

 

 

p1100265p1100267

Damper John took me for a drive out onto the station where I saw my first Perente or Bungarra, which is related to the Komodo Dragon.

We put up an emu and saw the wetlands which are dry this year due to low rainfall. They still looked great with all the coolibah trees. The windmills were destroyed last year by cyclone Olwyn and are just a tangled mass of metal. We saw a whistling kite and numerous low flowering bushes amongst the spinifex.

The beer bottle walk, so named because it is marked by beer bottles, leads out into the red sand dunes.p1100225

p1100220It passes a Bower Bird nest and the bower can be seen with its colourful attractants on display.

The days were very windy stirring up the red dust.

 

 

 

p1100247A couple of nights around the campfire were made most entertaining by Barry who stayed for a few days, played guitar and sang with a great repertoire, and a great sense of humour.

Our wedding anniversary was celebrated with scones, jam and cream at the homestead and Dawn and Lucy ( middle daughter) cooked Anzac biscuits for the muster team.

Dawn baked a camembert cheese and Damper John cooked a sourdough loaf which we three shared at happy hour one evening.

 

 

Our campsite had visits from Brownie the sheep, several horses, a goanna, zebra finches and white plumed honey eaters.

p1100259

The facilities were very good with 3 of the bathrooms open to the sky.

p1100213Every bathroom and toilet has a bolt outside as well as one inside, and it was easy to get locked in.

p1100284p1100299

p1100271

p1100303p1100289p1100260

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

We really enjoyed our time there thanks to Tim, Edwina, Olivia, Lucy and Mimi and in no small way to Damper John.

To Dennis and Colleen, who had to leave early and return to Busselton, thanks again for your friendship, and we look forward to catching up again down south.

Our time at Bullara inspired a couple of poems which Are written below this post.

 

BULLARA

It’s five o’clock and happy hour so join us for some damper,                                                                 

With John around the fire pit they all begin to scamper.                                                                                    

To catch up with friends both old and new, and some a yarn to tell,                                                           

A wind blown bunch of nomads sharing travel tales as well.

A trip out on the station some wildlife will reveal,                                                                                     

With emu and a big red roo, the bungarra looks unreal.                                                                             

The zebra finch are nesting while the bustard struts his stuff,                                                            

Corella shriek their warning that to live out here is tough.

A relentless wind still blows and is stirring up the dust,                                                                               

Everything is covered in a fine red outback crust.                                                                                            

The evening sky is filled with dust midst a sunset oh so red,                                                                                 

And we batten down the hatches for a windy night ahead.

Another day on Bullara has dawned quite bright and sunny,                                                                                  

It clouded over  quickly when someone locked me in the dunny.                                                                  

Life’s cares and woes are gone my friends here on Bullara Station,                                                                    

 Explore, relax and rest a bit in this part of our great nation.

 

THE MUSTER BEGINS

Daybreak. The roar of utes and bikes shatter the silence as a chopper takes to the air.                                  

A quiet excitement and anticipation stirs the blood of the muster team with prickling of the hair.

After months of preparation the day finally did arrive                                                                                   

For Bullara stock to bunch up in a mob before the drive.

The first mob of the muster is milling behind the rails,                                                                                   

Awaiting drafting, weaning, marking and all that that entails.

Tim’s hands upon the drafting gates are flashing back and forth,                                                                    

As bellowing stock rush past into the pens he sorts.

A brindle steer with nostrils flared and eyes as big as plates                                                                    

Twists back and forth and bellows as it refuses at the gates.

There’s one in every mob that tries the patience of the men.                                                         

Persistence wins out in the end as it’s drafted to its pen.

There’s not a cattle dog in sight upon Bullara Station,                                                                                

And the stock are handled firmly with much care and dedication.

The month ahead holds more of the same with sun and dust and flies,                                                         

In this special place, Bullara, under western clear blue skies.