Monday, December 21, 2015

December 1st to 21st at Essex Downs

Just taking things easy since I last blogged.
Stacking hay at Maroola 
     On the 5th we took a drive to Maroola, a station owned  by Essex Downs owners, sister. It was a fairly long drive south west on gravel road. We had directions to get there but took longer than one would if you knew where you were going. The roads are good now, wouldn't travel them after rain, just wouldn't get through. We arrived to find them very busy picking up a load of hay that had been cut the day before, so Jim gave them a hand. Had a bit of trouble with the loader first up but got it fixed O.K. The stock needed feeding as well, they have a machines for most jobs around the station and it was all pretty simple. The cattle looked in good condition.
feeding the stock at Maroola
     We had lunch with Betty and Ces then left them to their hard work for the afternoon. There wasn't anything that we could help them with at this time. We took a different route back to Essex Downs via Maxwellton and Richmond. The trip was a bit longer but the road was better (I think). We had a reviving drink at the local in Richmond and took the pup's for a swim in lake Fred Triton, arriving back late afternoon.

Some of the mob on Essex
Nearing the entrance to Essex we saw a small mob of cattle on Essex property, about a dozen of them. Took some photo's hoping to identify them at a later time. Turned out they belong here and are the one's missing since our arrival. They looked in good nick, must be finding enough feed to sustain them well.

     Walking the paddocks here I discovered a bunch of rocks with fossils in them, they were scattered around a bit in 2 separate piles.No idea what they are at all, fascinating find. 

 These pictures show a small sample of the better looking ones.
     We have been into Richmond  on occasion to restock and have a look a round. It is a very friendly country town, willing to help out in any way if needed. We even got credit at the local past office when we asked them to send us an item in the mail as we weren't going in to town for a while, no problem, the article arrived in the next mail delivery and we paid for it next time we went into town. Now that's service!

     We have moved onto the managers cottage at the station, it is air conditioned and we no longer have to endure the high temperature days sweltering it out, temperatures of 45 degree are much easier to handle now. Any outside jobs that haven't been completed by 10 or 11 o'clock wait until late in the afternoon or the next day.
Outback makeshift Spa Pool

     I have shifted my outback spa pool to it's new location and enjoy it cool during the day as a swimming pool and add hot water from the artesian bore early evening to relax the tired body. Ahh!! such luxury!

One of the many great sunrises at Essex Downs

      The sunsets and rises are as spectacular as ever, this one was a bit later in the morning. U-beauty!

     Life goes on, every thing is good. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

16th Oct to end November - Essex Downs

     A bit light on news of late. last I blogged back in mid October, We were at Essex Downs station, south of Richmond, Queensland, we're still here. It is extremely hot!!! up to 45 degree celcius, OUCH!! but apart form that all is well. Getting my head around the vast distances in this part of the world and the Outback in general, 65.000 acres with two paddocks being 20,000 each, PHEW!! that's huge. Another curiosity to me, is the distance travelled to clear the mail box, a 12km round trip down the driveway and back twice a week. Ha Ha.
     We had some rain on the 30th October, about three quarters of an inch. When it rains here we go no-where, the black soil around here goes to slop when wet. Jim had to go down the driveway to find a tradesman and show him another way to the homestead, WELL!! poor little Suzuki jimny was devastated, mud many inches thick all under the wheel arches and everywhere. Luckily most of it dropped off when it dried out. Moral to the story? don't attempt to drive anywhere when it has rained, but - it dries out fairly quickly too.
      A bit of a drama unfolded when a big buck kangaroo decided that it
wasn't going to hop away when the dogs tried to chase it, instead it chased the dogs! Dot got a bit battered and bruised with a nasty gash to her belly, nothing life threatening, luckily. Yip was too nimble to get caught. Jim had a shot at it, but it ducked and took off, too fast to have another shot. Couple of days later, taking our late afternoon walk, the bl*#dy thing had a go at me!! It had a broken front leg. I ended up on the ground with a few nasty scratches on my backside - I live to tell the story, Big buck 'roo though,
 - DID NOT!! - it's  balls are still hanging on the barbed wire fence and the puppies were well fed for some time on fresh kangaroo meat.
     I have a spa! the water here is artesian, comes  out of the ground HOT! The bore supplies the household with water and there is plenty of it, don't wait to have a cold shower though. I set a huge tub beside the veranda and filled it from the bore - hot spa water - it cools over night but I just empty a bit out and refill it with the hose water, which is hot. 

     That 's our lot at present, thoroughly enjoying being here, getting a bit lazy, not a lot to do around the place, just take care of what is here, water the lawn and mow it when it grows, havn't needed to mow much yet, just as well as the mower is cactus, leaves us with a whipper snipper to do the job - all good.
Some photos to look at.
rain west of Essex Downs

Goanna - a Local visitor
Sunset at Essex Downs

                                                         The sunrises and sunsets are absolutely beautiful, I could take many a picture but have just a couple to look at. Apart from the kangaroos the wildlife is not much, this goanna turned up a couple of weeks ago. The birds are many and varied, getting more abundant as the lawn greens up and more insects are being attracted by our lights at night. Nature is an ever increasing wonder to behold!

      Another shower of rain on Friday 27th November with about half and inch. Need a lot more to do any good. That's life isn't it? can't control the weather.
                      Catch all when next I blog, maybe not 'til the new Year.
                                 Merry Christmas to all 

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 8th to 16th Lending a hand

          Thursday 8th
     We spent 10 days at Pallamana and now making our way to Richmond to Essex Downs. First a couple of photos I took at Pallamana after I last blogged.
Pallamana front gate

quiet stock at Pallamana
The first is the entrance to the station.

    The stock here is pretty quiet, these 2 were around the homestead a lot, along with some of the younger stock that had been fed here.
Dry country at Pallamana

     Then this one, a piece of the land on the station. So dry, but pretty in outback scenery terms.


     We left early and did a larder/fuel stock-up in Charters Towers, making Pentland by mid day where we stopped for a few minutes to catch up with John at the fruit/vegie stall. I purchased some more fresh goodies and one of his beautiful home made fruit cakes.
     We continued to Prairie where we camped behind the pub for the night.
          Friday 9th
Lo-o-ng Qld roads
     On the way to Hughenden this morning I couldn't help but take this photo through the windscreen of the bus , I had almost forgotten how long and straight the Queensland outback roads are.

Dry east of Hughenden
Or the dry country-side. there ain't much out here, but  a little grass to fed the stock at least.

Through Hughenden without stopping. About 40km west we pulled into a rest stop area to find we had a puncture. BUGGAR!! Well, change the wheel and continue to Richmond.
Essex Downs
     Lake Fred Triton was first stop on arrival, a swim for the pup's. Found Richmond Motors to get the tyre fixed, only the joint was closed for the day with the mechanic in Hughenden.
      Oh well,we will get that chore done later. Made our way south 40km to Essex Downs.
     The drive to the homestead is 6km of black soil track. All O.K. in the dry weather but apparently impassable when it rains. We found the homestead, a place to park and plug in to the power. The whole place is very run down, it's been vacant for some time and is in need of some TLC.

         Saturday 10th
Essex Downs homestead
     Finding our way around, Jim took a drive in the Jimny and I spent the morning checking out the surrounds of the homestead. This photo I took yesterday morning with our rig out front. It looks pretty in the morning light.

        Tuesday 13th
Looking west to the homestead
     The weather is warming!! reached 38 degrees today, a bit warm for me but handling it O.K.
     While out walking the pup's this morning I looked back to the homestead, couldn't actually see it. I wasn't that far away but the land doesn't have many features, easy to get lost!!
I make sure I keep to a defined track at all times.
          Wednesday 14th
     Drove in to Richmond this morning. Took pup's for a swim in the lake then did some shopping. Back at the station by lunch time. Very hot again and the wind is up.
         Friday 16th
     All is good. Taking it easy!
         Catch up when I next blog

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

1st to 6th October - New Challenges

     Tuesday 6th
     We made our way to Pallamana Station on Monday 28th September after restocking well in Charters Towers before leaving, arriving at the station by midday. The road in, is Home Harvest Road, the station is 31km along a very dusty gravel (or should I say bull dusty) road. We took our time Dilligaf with no problems except that everything is covered in dust and the Jimny is pink with bull dust (usually white). It's so very dry here, as is everywhere out this way.
     We had a warm welcome from the station owners who are flat out trying to save their lively-hood from the banks, it is a struggle that a lot of outback stations (and farmers of all types) are experiencing. We can only be as helpful as we can, to give these people a little bit of a break.
     Settling in we found out what is required of us. Jim will be kept busy feeding the stock with hay and pellets and making sure there is water for all, including the living areas. Me? I get to fed and water the dogs, of which there are 7, the sheep totalling 14 and 3 lambs, a couple of calves and 1 pig, try to keep the lawns green with sprinklers and some citrus trees too, all of which are looking a bit sad due to the heat and lack of regular water.

Yip meets working dog Remmie
      One of the dogs is a Maremma sheep dog called Remmie, who has fallen in love Yip, He comes to play with her and he should be out working. Here's a picture of them both.

    Pallamana station owners, John and Sally, have 2 other stations, one in Cape York and another south of Richmond.
The Richmond station, called Essex Downs, is in need of a caretaker - enter Jim and myself and Dot + Yip.
     We are going to make our way out there on Thursday 8th, about 350 something kilometres to Richmond from Charters Towers and another 50km to the station south of there. The road is sealed all the way and a black soil road in to the station.
     There is only a small number of stock on it, so won't be too much to handle - I don't think. Another challenge to look forward to.
     May not be any mobile or Internet so wait to see what happens and will catch up when I can.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sept. 17th to 27th Ravenshoe to Charters Towers

        Monday 21st
     Shift camp today - in to town to the Rail Co. Travellers Rest @$15.00 per night, until maybe the end of the week. Just taking it easy while Jim attends to dental appointments in Atherton. He had the mudguard on the trailer welded while here as well.

         Friday 25th
Ravenshoe Steam Train
     All going well.
   The local Train enthusiasts have been working for some time to get the steam engine up and running again, it has been out of action for a few months but this morning saw them  fire up in preparation for restarting the tourist attraction train rides each weekend.
Took this picture of the warm up of the engine.

Innot Hot Springs motel
      Jim's dental work is done and we left Ravenshoe this morning after loading the Jimny and fuelling Dilligaf we made our way to Greenvale along the Gregory Development road  after careening past the Innot Hot Springs, I only managed to get a quick Pic. of the motel as we passed.

Termite nests
     Driving down the Gregory Development road there are with some single lane bitumen stretches, other wise good travelling. The land is so very dry though, much worse than I have seen previously.  The termite nests are plenty, some huge ones amongst the brown grass and the trees that don't look too healthy.
     Arrived in Greenvale about 3.30. All is quiet here.  We parked outside the Three Rivers Hotel (of Slim Dusty fame) for the night. Much to our surprise there is a coach load of happy tourists here for the night, they are an entertaining lot with country music singers among them. A very enjoyable evening of song and laughter.
Rainbow at Greenvale
     A couple of showers late afternoon and evening made a very nice rainbow as the sun set, not enough to make any difference to the drought though.
                      Saturday 26th
Dry country on Gregory Dev.Rd
     After letting half the coach load of oldies have a visit with Yip this morning, much to their enjoyment, Yip did a wonderful job entertaining a few of them, we drove by more dry country-side on our way to Charters Towers.  
Part of dis-used railway
     There is dis-used railway alongside the road with culverts under it that look fairly well made, (maybe hand made from long ago), the rock wall around them is tidy.

Fletcher Creek (very dry)
     Stopping for lunch at Fletcher Creek. 
     We had a few days here last year, the creek was half full of water back then and enjoyed swimming in it, no such luck today, DRY AS A BONE.
     Arriving in Charters Towers about lunch time we made our way to one of our favourite rest area's at the Puma Roadhouse (used to be the Gold City Roadhouse) We will be here until Monday 28th when are going to stock up all provisions to last a month or so. We are heading about 80km south to a station to help out where we can in any way, to give the owners a break where possible. Should be good, we are looking forward to the challenge.
No mobile or Internet coverage that I know of, so will be off the air until further notice.
     Catch up with us then, Chow for now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

10th to 16th September Return to Ravenshoe

     Thursday 10th
      Spent some ofour hard earned cash in Atherton today, I had a shopping spree, nothing special, just catch-up on some home wares.
     Today and next couple just taking it easy.

      Saturday 12th
     We find ourselves back at the Tall Timbers Van park in Ravenshoe this morning. Will be here a week or so 'til Jim's new teeth are ready.
      A few showers over the next couple of days, but not so wet as to make things miserable, very changeable, cool-warm-damp-dry-sunny, anything you want as long you don't want the same weather all day.

     Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th
     This afternoon a family travelling their way around the country, stopped here for a couple days. Their youngest daughter, (Lily) who is 11 years old is in an electric wheel chair, a lovely young woman with a seemingly permanent smile on her face. She took some time out to spend with us, joining us for takeaways for dinner Monday night. Her Mum (Melisa) and Dad (Greg) and elder sister (Ella) didn't dine with us.
     I enjoyed her company and the pups loved her to bits, especially Dot. Yip was a surprise to me, she accepted Lily like she was one of the family.
Dot and Lily at Ravenshoe
Yip+Lily at Ravenshoe
     On Tuesday Lily came into our bus and up on the bed with Dot and Yip, playing with them, having a ball I think, said she wants a pup too. I took these two photos of her and Yip interacting with each other and Dot being spoilt rotten by Lily.

      Wednesday 16th
     Weather is nice this morning. Lily and her family departed to continue their journey, we will keep in touch.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

4th to 9th September - South to Atherton tablelands

          Friday 4th
View down hill on Bobs Lookout hill
Mt Carbine Hotel
     Leaving Lakeland behind us we climbed the Byerstown range passing the James Earl lookout and the Palmer river, (which has a good run of water) downhill by Bobs Lookout, taking a photo through the windscreen of the view toward Mt Carbine and beyond.
     One of the only other water ways which actually had water was the McLeod river, a bit short of Mt Carbine, all the others we drove over were as dry as!! (until we got to Mt Molloy.)
over night in Mt Molloy

     We stopped at Mt Carbine hotel for spell thinking we may spend the night but continued to Mt Molloy in the end, reaching a park on a side road by the pub mid afternoon.

Mt Molloy old  bakery building(now a shop)
     Taking a walk with the pups while Jim visited the bar, I found an old building which had been the local bakery in it's time but is used as an antique shop. A quaint old building.

     Pioneer Memorial Park, just down the hill was very nice, a series of small lakes which were full a floating weed that made it look like they were solid ground, almost took a walk on one, lucky, I discovered what it was or would have got a bit wet.  Lots of shady trees and Rifle creek on the boundary of the park made good swimming for the dogs.
     Takeaway dinner from the hotel and the day was done.

                                             Saturday 5th
Copper smelter ruins in Mt Molloy

     The local markets on today in Mt Molloy, fair size for a small town, I purchased some goodies.
      This photo is of the ruins of a copper smelter, must have been a big industry back then.

Free camp rest area north of Atherton
      Time to go, we left mid morning and stopped for the day at Rocky Creek memorial,  not far short of Atherton where we will go to tomorrow, have a rest until then.

                       Sunday 6th
     Drove into Atherton this morning, it's Sunday but Harvey Norman is open today and we need to exchange the Navman gps  thingo, the one we have, had a hemorrhage the other day,(no good for nothing at present) we only had it for a few months, its still under warranty so will get a new one this morning.
     Once that was done we booked into the Tolga Van park for the week at $25.00 per night but pay for 6 and stay 7, so $150.00 for the week - not too bad. Jim has an appointment tomorrow to get some new teeth which we expect will take a week or two.

                           Monday 7th
     Walking the pups this morning, I am intrigued with the colour of the soil around here, typically Atherton red soil, great potato growing area, amongst other crops. This picture is looking over to Atherton in the distance.
Atherton red soil, crop country
                          Wednesday 9th
Tolga Hotel
      Only about 500 meters from the van park is the Tolga Hotel.  Another beautiful building with outback hospitality in a great homely pub.
     Tolga is a happy little town, has all you need to get by on and only 3-4km from Atheron but with a friendly country atmosphere.
     Drove out to Lake Tinaroo today with Dot and Yip to give them a swim in the lake, time for bath anyway.

Dot and Yip at Lake Tinaroo
Dam wall at Lake Tinaroo

The Dam at Lake Tinaroo
     The lake is very pretty, the water not so cold for a swim and not too crowded. a delightful way to spend a couple of hours.
     Back to Tolga and a relaxing afternoon.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

1st to 4th September Cooktown and fishing

     28th August we were at James Earl lookout but left late afternoon to drive about 20 minutes to arrive at Lakeland where we parked outside the hotel so Jim could catch up with the latest footy on Sky T.V. in the bar.
Great fishing on the Annon river

          Saturday 29th August
Prawn trawler at Cooktown wharf
     On to Cooktown today, remembering all the sights we saw over 2 years ago. Stopped at one of our favourites, the Annon River.
    The fishing was pretty good back then, we will spend a day or two here.

     Parked at the Cooktown wharf first up to buy lunch at the  Gill'd & Gutt'd takeaway. A nice feed of fish and chips for starters. Watched heaps of fish being caught from  the wharf then grabbed a kilo of prawns fresh from the prawn trawler. Spent the night at the free camp in Adelaide street.

          Sunday 30th August
     Back along the highway a few kilometres to the Annon River bridge for a few days. Went to take the Jimny off the trailer and found the battery dead flat, so back to Cooktown to get a new one then finally parked up in a nice spot at the southern end of the bridge.

           Monday 31st August
     Caught a nice bream off the bridge at Annon river today, not big, but legal!! tasted great for lunch, from the river to the pan with lemon and down my gullet - oh my!! so sweet.

Huge Groper in Annon River Cooktown
     Another camper  had his mud crab pots in the river, he was being troubled with the pots being wrecked. Thought it was crocodiles, there was one about 3 metres long that we saw  and it had been at the pots, but eventually discovered this huge groper having a go at them as well.  There were actually 2 of them, this monster and a slightly smaller one. Watched them feasting on the baits in the traps, they made a bit of a mess of the pots. I felt very priviledged to have witnessed this unique sight.

          Tuesday 1st September
     Lazy day today, fishing and reading. Never caught anything though. We went back into Cooktown this afternoon, making our way back south tomorrow but will catch up on the domestic chores first.

          Wednesday 2nd
The creek at the Lions Den Hotel camp ground and Dot
Entrance to the bar
     Only a few kilometres today to the Lions Den Hotel camp ground in the Rossville area. It is a lovely spot, nothing here except for the pub and camp ground. A fresh running creek borders the camp site and we took great advantage of the nice cooling water for swim for the pups and a paddle for me.

       I visited the bar in the early evening to listen to a couple of elderly diggers playing piano-accordions, had a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours, they both played by ear, most of the songs they played I knew and sang and clapped my hands along with them, not bad at all.

        Thursday 3rd
                      Heading south again.
Rocks on the hill out from the Loins den Hotel
     Back on the highway toward Lakeland I spied this rock formation in the distance. Having just left the Lions Den Hotel, was it just coincidence that this looked very much like a lion on the hill!! What do your reckon? am I seeing things or what?
         Moving along now.!!

Bower bird bower at Lakeland
 We parked up outside the Lakeland Hotel again for the night. While here the other day I found  Bower Bird Bower under a tree, they make a great nest area and decorate it with all sorts of stuff that they find lying about, bits of glass, coloured plastic and any thing bright usually, this one had a great number of land snail shells about it. there were a couple of bowers but the main one was in use as we saw the birds going in and out of it often. The other was maybe last years and a little in disrepair.I took this photo before we left the next morning.