Wednesday, July 16, 2008
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.