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!

Crikey, that’s a big one!

After feeding all the animals on the farm one afternoon recently, Jackaroo called me over to the pigeon cage. I looked inside and saw a big python curled up, with a suspiciously fat stomach. I quickly ran inside to get an old pillow case which we could use to put the snake in. Jackaroo could tell that it was a boy by the pattern on his scales. Since he was such a beautiful snake, and not overly poisonous, we decided to relocate it. It took a long time to get him out of the cage as he had barricaded himself between the roof and the chicken wire. He snapped at us as we tried to pull him out from his hiding spot. Since he had eaten one of our pigeons, though, he found it quite hard to get away – his stomach was just too round. Unfortunately, when snakes are stressed, their bowels are too… and therefore our noses. Man, snakes are putrid! I have attached a photo of me releasing the snake about 10 minutes down the road. You can see I’m trying to hold it away from my body so I didn’t get covered in his poo, as he was trying to wrap around my arm. He was about 6ft long, which is a fair size, but this species can grow over 10ft long! mms_20140102

Introducing – Kora!

After months of much anticipation, I’ve finally met my new pup! Her name is Kora, and she is a beautiful Border Collie. She came from a Border Collie stud called Mukkerdowns, which is located near Orange in New South Wales. Kora has so much personality. The more time I spend with her, the more I love her. She is around 5months old, I think, I’m yet to find out her birth date. Over the weekend, I took her for a walk down to the creek, which winds itself through the property. On the way down, we came across a small mob of cattle. Kora looked at them and within seconds was trying to run around behind them, before I called her back. We will start her on sheep or calves, so that she doesn’t get hurt for her first time herding. It is amazing how much the instinct is in these dogs, despite the majority of her brothers and sisters being city dogs. When we got to the creek, to my delight, she dove straight into the water. It seems she loves the water as much as I do! She hooned through the water, and mud, taking in every new scent and sight as she could. She rolled in the dirt and leaves on the side of the creeks and dams, each time falling into the water. She makes me laugh!

Then yesterday I took her for a drive down to the river. She swam after me as I floated through the slow-running water. Every time a leaf or stick floated past she would be after it, snapping her jaws as she swam. The funniest bit was when the leaf went underwater – she stuck her head underwater too! I was amazed that she knew to breathe out while underwater. Such a strange dog! Love her to bits! Anyway, I didn’t have long to write much of a story for you, apologies, but enjoy the photos 🙂

Foaly Moley!

This year, we only have had 3 Australian Stock Horse foals born on the property. It’s definitely quality over quantity though, they are beautiful. First born was a flashy chestnut colt with a big baldy face (lots of white) and 3 white socks who we named Coolrdige Kidman – after a famous Australian cattle baron. Next, a lovely little bay filly with a bucket load of attitude named Coolridge Karijini – a beautiful desert in Western Australia. Finally, a leggy black filly called Coolridge Khaleesi – I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones!

In case anyone is interested in Australian Stock Horses, and follows their breeding, all three are by Kooloombah Confidence, a very handsome red dun stallion. Confidence, and all of the mares are bred to Campdraft, which is an Australian horse sport with cattle, where you must first cut out a beast in the ‘camp’, then take it out into the arena and bend it around two posts and through a gate. These foals all have great breeding and we are looking forward to seeing their natural ability under saddle. I’m currently in the process of building a website for our horses and will have it finished in the coming months. Once breeding season is over I’ll have more time to get things happening.

Have a look at the photos attached, aren’t they just beautiful? I love coming home and watching the foals playing in the cool twilight. Enjoy the photos – I’d be jealous if I were you…

Bridge Over Untroubled Waters

All is well on the stock route, Jackaroo sent me these photos last night. They’re currently stuck in a stock reserve for a couple of days while, one again, mobs ahead sort themselves up. Normally you have to move 10kms per day along the stock route, so a stock reserve is a designated area where you can rest your cattle for a day or two. It has water there, but no cattle yards there. This one that they are in at the moment, is fenced on two sides, with a road and the river as a natural boundary.

The cattle moved really well over the bridges apparently. As you can see in the first photo, when working cattle, you push smaller sections at a time rather than try to push the whole mob at once. If you are trying to guide more than a handful of cattle into yards or over a bridge, pushing the whole mob won’t work as you don’t have control over the front. The front could head off to one side or plant themselves in one spot, sending the middle of the mob back around you. It’s hard to explain, but there really is an art to working cattle – it can be tough!

I’ve also attached a photo of ‘Kitty’, the cat that thinks he’s a horse, walking along the old cattle yards at home last night – since I have nothing too interesting to say haha!

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A horseman pushes cattle across a bridge.
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Cattle take a drink before they move on.
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And this is the best photo I can offer from my time at home. Lol!

Latest pics from the stock route.

I have got a couple more pics to show you! Jackaroo sent these yesterday. Storm got himself lost the other day and spent the night at the yards, back up the trail a little bit. Luckily, Jackaroo found him the next day.

He had few stories to tell, it’s been pretty slow going so far. However, he did mention how stupid some people can be around mobs of cattle and horses on the road. Any horse rider will know, if you’ve ridden on the road, some people just don’t understand how dangerous it is when they screech past you, or slam on their brakes just before they get to you. Make sure you take it easy on the road with horses and cattle. For your safety, and for the riders.

On a positive note though, Jackaroo was telling me that some older man drove up to them when they were stopped onto the side of the road and offered him a Country Life newspaper. Unfortunately, Jackaroo was on a young horse and it mightn’t have ended well if he opened the newspaper up while riding him! Still, it’s nice to see that there’s good people out there.

Sunset on the stock route.
Sunset on the stock route.
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The collies settle in for the night. From the left, four are ours – Storm, Zyrtec, Edge and Gemma.

Jackaroos Only

Hi everyone. I received these photos from Jackaroo yesterday. They have been stuck in the same area for a few days now, and will be for a couple more while they wait for a big enough gap between them and the mob ahead. (You can read more about the history-making drove here). Having such large groups of cattle moving down the stock route, food is becoming scarce. So they are trying to create bigger gaps between the cattle. Not that it probably makes much difference since we’re currently in a bit of a drought! Then again, when isn’t Australia in a drought? It’s either flooding or dusty haha!

Anyway, there have been few hiccups along the way, apart from earlier this week when a few horses escaped. The horses are currently having to be hobbled during the night, as the other morning they were found 8kms from camp! Naughty nags. Apparently one of them was my beloved Perseverance. No… That can’t be right!

Enjoy the photos, I hope to have some more photos or stories soon 🙂

The cattle graze as they walk.
The cattle graze as they walk.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Morning on the stock route.
Morning on the stock route.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
A drover on his horse.
A drover on his horse.
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would've been some major dramas!
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would’ve been some major dramas!

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!

Jealous Jillaroo – Jackaroo Joins the Largest Drove In Aussie Memory

Something very exciting is happening in eastern Australia at the moment. Well, not for me, I’m stuck at home taking care of the farm. Jackaroo has been lucky enough to be involved in the biggest drove in Australian history. A ‘drove’, is moving cattle/sheep from one place to another, feeding them along the way. They can be very long and hard distances traveled. Often, drovers live on the road, going from one job to the next. Cattle baron Tom Brinkworth has taken advantage of the drought and bad cattle prices by buying 18,000 head of cattle from the ages of 8months to 2yrs old. These cattle are being taken down the TSR (Travelling Stock Route), or ‘The Long Paddock’ to their new properties, some 2500km away (over 1500miles). The herd has been split up into 9 mobs, and are travelling 10km a day. There is about 80km/8days between the different mobs of cattle. There are many stock routes in Australia, but some of these cattle are being taken from Queensland to as far as South Australia. It was estimated that it would cost Tom $1,000,000 to truck the cattle to his property, the same cost as taking them down the stock routes. However, considering it will have taken 6 months or so (and 70 drovers!) to do this, and the cattle are getting fed along the way, by the time the cattle get to their destination, many will be ready to be sold – very smart! Droving is a part of Australian life that has been forgotten by the majority of Australians in recent times. This is evident in many of the routes currently being closed, having cattle or sheep permanently on them, mainly due to drought.

Just the weekend past, Jackaroo and I were packing his stuff and getting the horses ready to go. He has taken 4 horses with him and 5 dogs to help them on their journey. The night before he and his fellow drovers were ready to leave, I was busy sewing reflective jackets for the dogs, so they don’t get hit by cars while the travel the roads. As soon as I get a pic of the dogs in their jackets I’ll share them with you! When I spoke to Jackaroo last, he had arrived in New South Wales, and they were taking care of 2000 cattle. He sent me the photo I have attached to this post. Jackaroo is a man of few words. When I get word of his adventures I will pass them on, since I’m not having any adventures at the moment!

However, on the 23rd of October we will both be heading for the Pilbara in Western Australia, where my family lives and works. I am very excited to show Jackaroo and you how beautiful it is over there in the desert. After we come back, Jackaroo will head back droving again.

2000 head of cattle, and working dog 'Storm' in the foreground.
2000 head of cattle, and working dog ‘Storm’ in the foreground.
Watering the mob.
Watering the mob.

The First Time I Visited a Cattle Station

I was looking through the photos on my phone this weekend, and came across some old photos of a station I visited a while back. It was the first station I ever visited, and is about a 8hr trip from where we live. (Or 10/11hrs depending on whether you get lost… Whoops!)

When I visited, it had been raining for the past few weeks, which meant the roads weren’t always passable. I had to park my car at the closest pub (about 1hr away) so Jackaroo and his mate came and picked me up in one of the station cruisers (Toyota LandCruiser). Jackaroo had already been working on this property as a contract musterer for 6 or 8 weeks, so I jumped at the chance to go visit. It’s not in me to turn down an adventure!

I stayed for a week on a soggy cattle station where the freezing winds bit at whatever skin was left uncovered. For most of the week Jackaroo, the rest of the mustering team and the station hands were unable to work due to the rain. They worked in the shed, building and fixing whatever they could, to pass the time. In case you’re wondering, the difference between ‘contract musterers’ and ‘station hands’ is that mustering is all that contract musterers do. They are called in for 6 or 8 week stints a few times a year to assist with bringing in the thousands of cattle at branding or weaning time. Station hands are full time on the properties, and help out with all farm tasks such as fencing or fixing bores etc. I seemed to have been given the role of camp cook, baking scones and other meals/snacks for the crew. I didn’t mind, I was happy as Larry inside in the warmth, playing guitar and eating butterscotch scones. Station life was easy, I thought. Little did I know…

Anyway, I thought I’d share these photos with you. My favourite is the one where the boys are surfing on the hay bale!