An Aussie Weekend

There’s not too many more Australian pastimes than exploring our beautiful country by 4wd. Every weekend, there is a trail fourbies (as we call them in Aus!) heading off into the parks and beaches in my region. This weekend it was Bean (of Adventures Of A Bean) and I, in ‘Heidi’, my blue Holden Rodeo – heading for Conondale National Park. Conondale National Park is 35,500 hectares, which is over 87,700 acres, and near Kenilworth Qld. I would definitely recommend you visit there if you are in the area!

Specifically, we were heading for Booloumba Falls, which is an amazing set of waterfalls and gorgeous gorges winding their way through the park. Despite the drought, the falls were still flowing well and the water was clear and cold. I have tried several times to get to the falls, but the track can be cut when it rains due to landslides. The track is for 4wd’s only as it steep and very rough in spots. Driving through the park is great fun though, and you can see and hear the wildlife as we go. The place was filled with the songs of Bell Birds, and you’d often see a Goanna or Lace Monitor scuttle through the leaf litter.

Bean and I spent hours out there, exploring and swimming in the different falls. We took lots of photos – enjoy!

Everything is bigger downunder!

I was reading through a few of my old posts and remembered the promise of a photo of some of the ant hills down here. I am yet to organise the many photos from our recent Western Australia trip, but here is one of them. This is an anthill I walked past in Karijini National Park. I’m 5ft 10inches, so that is one big mound! It is interesting how the shapes and colours of the anthills change depending on where we are. We have some anthills on the farm, but they generally don’t get any higher than a metre – which makes them dangerous when the grass is long!

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While the Jack’s Away, the Jill Will Play

Yesterday was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect. A friend and I, her name is Jess too, went for a swim with a couple of horses in the river. It was great fun swimming with the horses and jumping from their backs. I’m a lucky girl to live in an area with such a beautiful natural environment. After we went for a swim we prepared lunch. We had brought a small bbq down to the river with the intention of cooking up a nice bit of steak for lunch. However, since we forgot a lighter and cannot start a fire with sticks, that didn’t quite work out! We ended up just eating ‘rabbit food’ and a couple of neenish tarts yum yum! This is the perfect time of year!

I received some more photos from Jackaroo last night. Am hoping to have them up today or tomorrow – stay tuned!

I got a day off!

Weekends normally mean more work for me. More enjoyable work, mind you, I’d much rather be outside than in the office. Last weekend, however, was different – well one of the days anyway! Since it’s been getting warmer, and the days longer, I have been itching to get down to the river. In summer that’s where I (would) like to spend my days, relaxing by the cool water, watching whichever dogs I brought with me running around and playing. This time I brought Dodge, and Sid with me. Dodge is over a year old, and Sid is around 8-9 months old. I took some photos of our adventure to share with my favourite bloggers.

The next day we were to muster Jackaroo’s Pa’s property to send some cattle to the sales. In the ‘mountain paddock’ we had some trouble with the cattle who decided they didn’t want to obey the dogs or horses. There were only about 50 head of cattle, so we had 2 dogs and both Jackaroo and myself on our trusty steeds. Well, mine was trusty – my sweet sweet Perseverance. Jackaroo was riding a green mare. For the city folk – not green green. A green horse means it hasn’t had much work and is very fresh, ie – on the good feed all day, so green poop. Due to Jackaroo being on an inexperienced horse and having difficult cattle, I stayed behind the mob with the dogs to make sure everything kept following him. Anyway, the cattle were pushing past the dogs and we often had to gallop to the lead of the mob to turn them around. At one stage, when I was cantering up the hill, we came across a crop of granite boulders. One was straight in our path, Percy and I disagreed which way we were going to go round it, so we flew over it! Our horses certainly learn to get good footing when mustering. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes to a horse. If I was riding a horse that had only ever lived in a small flat paddock instead, both of us would’ve surely hit the dirt. Mustering horses are strong and tough and have to think for themselves when we’ve got our eyes on the cattle going flat strap. When we finally got the cattle to the yards, we drafted and tagged a small group to send to the sales. The next day we then went to the cattle sales to see how they sold. They were mainly some older cows and some cranky ones. There was one calf that I couldn’t resist taking a photo with as he was very cute! I thought you guys might appreciate it.

Enjoy the photos, and keep an eye out in the next couple of days for my stories from the 2013 Gympie Muster where I was media once again. I got to interview some great artists.

Jillaroo out.

Seeing the World Through Cow Poo Tinted Glasses

Spoiler – I got cow poo flung into my eyeball…

Every second Sunday we cart cattle for the sales. In case you don’t understand the slang – it means Jackaroo and I hop in a cattle truck, pick peoples cattle up and bring them back to the saleyards for the sales the next day.

We often have to deal with some snotty cattle, and it’s a long day generally, but we get to see some beautiful properties and areas. I love going trucking! Running around yards, climbing up the sides of the truck… It’s all fun and games until someone gets sloppy cow poo flung into their eyeball. I’m not a prissy lady, I judge how hard I’ve worked by how dirty I am. Poo in the eyeball is where I draw the line though.

Last time we trucked cattle, there was one lot who were particularly stirry (cranky). I was positioned at the back door so that when the cattle flew up the ramp I could shut them in quickly. When on the back door, you have to make sure that the cattle don’t try to run back down the ramp, so you keep an eye on them through the gap between the bottom of the crate. I generally wear sunglasses, but it had started getting dark so I took them off. BIG MISTAKE. When I was looking through the gap, a cow ran up into the truck, kicking a big bit of slop straight into my eyes! When I say kicking, I mean it was enough to leave a bruise and scratches. When I say slop, I mean 8hrs of cattle poo, pee and dirt from their feet all mixed up into a sloppy goodness. I did have a photo of my face, with the scratches and puffy eye, but I decided it was most unattractive and I would limit who saw me in that state.

The worst bit of the ordeal? Explaining to people what happened to my face for the following week…

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Week-end, Not Work-end.

Good morning fellow Jillaroos and Jackaroos. I’ve been rather quiet on here the past few days, as I’ve had 4 days off work (aka the day job). Thursday was the public holiday for ANZAC Day. If you’re not from around these parts, ANZAC stands for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. It’s a day to remember the fallen soldiers and appreciate what they’ve done for us. Since Thursday was the public holiday, I took Friday off too so I could have a 4 day weekend. Not that I ever seem to get a day to relax though. I was busy as ever on the farm and around the countryside.

I’ve only just brought my filly, Perseverance, back into work. Last year she went out west mustering with Jackaroo for a few months. Then, due to the drought and flooding, she lost a fair bit of weight, so I’ve been trying to feed her up for the past few months. She’s still got some weight to put on but is looking a lot better! So on Thursday, I took her down to the campdraft ground to work her. A campdraft is an Australian sport where riders cut out a cow and then push it around a course – it’s what I plan to do once Percy is old enough and strong enough to do it. She is only a baby, at 3yrs old. She is the horse I’m laying on in a previous post. When I was walking her around the arena, she stumbled and ended up on her knees. She then took a few bites of grass, and laid down while I was on her. Was very funny! That will show me for teaching a lazy horse to lay down! So I worked her for a while and then went and picked up hay from a property further out.

On Friday I went to the Widgee Mini Music Muster with the Australian Institute of Country Music crew. We interviewed a few artists such as Travis Collins, The Webb Brothers and Graeme Jensen for a podcast that will soon be put together. I am hoping to post the podcast on my blog as well. Country music festivals have the best atmosphere. I fell in love with the atmosphere long before I started liking country music. The people are friendly, and it’s easy to get interviews with the artists. I’ve previously been to festivals to interview artists for the radio show a friend and I used to host. One day I’ll be on stage.. Until then, you’ll have to put up with my ramblings on here. Oh who am I kidding, you guys will be some of the first to hear of my adventures!

On Saturday and Sunday I took Percy mustering on a property not far from us. Jackaroo rode his stallion, Confidence, the first day and then another 3yr old filly, Sardonyx, the next day. We mustered the cattle from the mountain, across the road into another paddock and finally into the old cattle yards there. They haven’t been used for a while, I kept getting my spurs tangled in the chest-high grass and stumbling. Classic gumby Jess (slang for uncoordinated). It can be real rough riding through the bush looking for cattle. Some bits are really densely treed, and you are continually ducking and diving from branches and big fat spider webs. In Australia we call this ‘scrubby country’ or ‘the scrub’ – where all there is are forms of eucalypt trees and weeds like lantana bushes etc. I dodged one spider web yesterday which stretched 2-3m, and had a massive fat-bodied spider in the middle of it. I’m not sure what type of spider it was but they are common in the bush, their webs are actually bright yellow in colour. At least it makes it easier to see them! We certainly are one badass country.

As Happy as a Dog in Mud

Just a quick one today! The other weekend I went down to the river to check out the water level and damage from the Jan/Feb floods. I took one of the 6 month old collie pups, Opera – named for her Phantom of the Opera shaped white mask on her face. I love dogs. It’s great watching them play. Especially Opera! Down by the river she was digging up shells and throwing them – then catching them. One of the happiest dogs I know. Check out that face! IMG_6827

Nail Polish Hinders Performance?

I wasn’t born into a farming family. Rather in Brisbane – to a bank teller and a boilermaker. I’ve always loved horses though. In fact, I got banned from using the ‘H’ word from a young age. It’s only been the past 6 or so years that I’ve immersed myself into everything country. When I’m interested in something, it consumes every thought. I often plan what I will do when I get a property, what cattle and horses I’d stock, the dogs I’d use and how I’d manage the paddocks.

I know that I can’t do some things, that some farm tasks are beyond my experience or ability (since I have a dicky knee!). However, when it comes to effort and enthusiasm – there’s not too many who would surpass me. Making mistakes is not an option when I start out – however I often end up with a dirty backside! I am usually pretty capable though, and keen to prove myself. If that charging beast is to be blocked, send old Jess. She’s got cajones (apparently it’s Mexican for balls).

A few months ago I visited my parents in the Pilbara, Western Australia. To get home, I had to take 3 flights. The first from Karratha to Perth, the next from Perth to Melbourne, then from Melbourne to Brisbane. Because of problems with the plane, about 25 of us missed our connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane. We were put up at a hotel in Melbourne for the night. We were also given free meals at the hotel restaurant for our stay. During dinner I heard a couple of the ladies talking about this girl named Jess, from the same town I was from, and that she had been working on a station. I had been speaking to an Aboriginal ringer on the last flight and wondered if they had overheard. I thought they were talking about me! Turns out they weren’t… I was curious who they were talking about though, and decided to find out.

The next day, we all made our way for our rescheduled flight. I sat down, stuck my nose in a book and waited for the flight to be called. I could just about smell her before I saw her. A girl about the same age came and sat next to me. It was obvious she was the Jess they had been talking about the night before. I introduced myself and we got chatting. Turns out she was working on a sheep station out woop woop. We got talking about working dogs and the likes, until she asked what I do. At that stage, I was hoping my knee would hold up enough to go mustering full time. Her eyes widened when I told her what my plans were. She looked me up and down. From my painted toes, to my plucked eyebrows. Conversation died after that. Apparently the way I looked affected my working ability. Painting my nails made me too prissy, a wannabe, or a rooey bastard if you will (read older posts for definition). Maybe I should’ve walked outside, rolled in some dirt and then sat back down next to her. May have earned some respect then!

Really, the nail polish doesn’t stop me from working… It just hides the red dirt beneath them.

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Dirt and blood from cutting calves on a station in Central Queensland. I wear gloves most of the time, but not while cutting!

Best Co-Pilot Ever

[In my opinion] I am the best co-pilot ever. Is it my continual guide-like commentary of everything we pass? Is it the way I give directions 2 streets too late? Maybe my angelic voice, singing most of the way? Some may call this annoying. I call it a ‘youthful exuberance’. I just loooove driving! Just rattle the keys and I’ll jump in the ute.

The Thursday before easter, Jackaroo and I drove 11hrs from muggy Queensland to freezing Central Western New South Wales. We were heading down to pick up his prized new colt, who I like to call Big Pete. The trip down there was great. Despite having to leave in the early morning, we were both excited to get down to Dubbo, where we had planned to stay the night. It’s amazing how different most of the properties down there are. Most seemed to be sheep properties with long tree-lined driveways, just like you see in the movies. Unlike Queensland where the driveways are lined with rusty old Holdens and obsolete farm machinery! We even passed a property where the 50 or so head of sheep had rugs on! I assume they had fine wool, and the rugs kept it clean (feel free to correct me in the comments if you’re in the know). Apart from laughing while my brother got chased by a ram once, I’ve never had anything to do with sheep. It would be interesting to learn about the animals, and the methods they employ to manage a sheep property. Though I still think I’d prefer cattle! The old shearing sheds look beautiful set in the granite boulder studded countryside. Would be amazing to explore.

As a whole, the New South Wales countryside seems a whole lot neater than its Queensland counterpart. The paddocks are neater, the towns are cuter, the roads are smoother. New South Wales does, however, seem to have the most quirky and seemingly silly names for towns and properties! We passed Wee Waa, Binnaway, Goonoo Goonoo, and my personal favourite – Dunnedo, which is pronounced Dunny-Do (dunny being Aussie slang for the toilet). Childish of me, yes, but as I said earlier – ‘youthful exuberance’. Queensland does have it’s fair share of strange names too. Down the coast from us we have Mt Mee – a place where the locals cop a bit of slack from their choice of residence.

We stayed one night near Dubbo, packed up the new colt the next morning and headed to Tamworth to see some friends. Would’ve been great to be able to have more of a look through the town. Alas, early next morning we had to leave again for home.

After 24hrs of driving – a 2200km round trip – we were exhausted and keen to hop into our own bed and sleep. However, chose to go to the pub instead. Typical Queenslanders.

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