Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oakleigh Station

After a few days travelling up the coast, checking out the beaches and local sights, i headed inland to meet up with Darcy, Juliane and family at the races. The directions seemed easy enough and it didn't look that far on the map until i added up all the distance indicators. Just over a full day of travelling along wide, dusty, unsealed roads, avoiding huge, 50 metre long, road trains and an extrordinary amount of roadkill i found myself at the turning to the race track. It only took another hour or so to get to the campsite and the races.

So this was what they called the outback, it wasn't just out the back, it was miles and miles from anywhere, i hadn't passed through a town or village on the journey, just the occasional roadside store and a few entrances to cattle stations, the properties hidden deep in the bush. I was glad that i had made firm arrangements to meet and had plenty of fuel and provisions on board.

The races were an amazing event, the annual local get together and a chance for the country folk to dress up, catch up and enjoy themselves. The actual horse races only lasted a few hours, but the whole event was attended for about 10 days with camps set up in the bush complete with bars, catering, sattelite TV and all the necessary facilities. Drinking and socialising were the order of the day

The family had just turned up for the day and were keen to get home before it got too late. The children, Ethan, Bryce and Sammy 4, 2 and 1 let their parents know in true toddler style that they had had enough, which was just as well because it was another 3 hours drive back to the farm.

I followed as best as i could, through the twilight and into the night, with no idea of where i was heading or what lay ahead. It wasn't until the following morning that i got to see the farm and countryside around. Well, some of it, the station covered 90,000 acres and supported over 5500 cattle, no other signs of civilation for miles, and when i left, realised that the driveway was over 12km long.

This will turn into an epic if i carry on at this rate, so a shortened version.......

the deal was to experience life on a cattle station, which was what i did, there were no opportunities to do anything else locally because there wasn't anything local. I spent each day with the family, having breakfast, feeding the cattle, delivering feed suppliments to distant areas of the farm, helping hand milk the milk cow, and do whatever the day entailed, right through to evening dinner and a good beer, the kids tagged along with their parents, Ethan preferred helping at home and Bryce would do anything to be allowed to ride on machinery, whether it be a tractor, dozer, truck or motorbike he loved it and they were both keen to tell me how it all happende and what i could and couldn't do!! Sammy would get strapped into a seat and taken off to do things with both parents taking turns to mind and have time off.

I got to horse ride, help out with dehorning, cutting(castrating) and innoculating young cattle and herding them out to the bush. Hunting down wild pigs. Saw emu, kangaroos and wallabys and an incredible number of birds. The major project was installing new underground power lines between the properties so i had plenty of time shovelling dirt either out of the ground or back into the holes that i had dug earlier in the week and also designing a garden around the main house on the property. When i wasn't busy there was always something going on with the boys to keep me occupied, Juliane has offered me a job as childminder, home schooler and gardener so i can return more permanently if i would like.

The time flew by, and after another 2 days on the road am back in a more populated area, heading north towards Cairns and beyond.


joy said...

Hi Sam

This sounds both great and awful . .loved the bit about the races where it takes 10 days of partying and a couple of hours horse racing . . .. but very isolated . .which is the awful bit but great as a short term experience.I guess people really need the skills to communicate well with each other . .but the family sound as if they have it sorted out . .had you met the family before or was this one of the hook up do a bit of work and enjoy a bit of freetime? was it good to get back to slightly more access to people? I suppose we just can't really imagine the vast expanses of the outback . .even though I did see some of it slightly when I was in Oz . .wouldn't have minded if you had gone on a bit more .. very interesting. Is there any issue with lack of rain this year for crops and livestock etc, take care and looking forward to hearing more. xx joy

samthegardener65 said...

I didn't really notice the remoteness whilst i was there, just getting in and back out again. The next town inland was nearly another 1000k further!!

Rainfall is better this year, though still on the low side. The drought has only affected certain areas dramatically, whilst other places suffered bad flooding last summer (when it usually rains).

Guess we only get the dramatic news back home.

Anonymous said...

sounds a great place to be!!! I was there with your tales.....loving the epic adventure telling!!! Remember....I will be your editor!!
Much love

M & P

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