Saturday, April 12, 2014

Anzac Day

I  am  getting in  a little early, as we will be away  mustering in QLD.

Anzac day, (for my  friends overseas), is on the 25th  of April, whereby we remember those who  gave up their lives, and fought for our country.

I  am  honoured to have family members who served in both WW1 and WW2, and recently  Afghanistan.

Here is a photo of  Sergeant Guy Hamilton Cotter, who was killed in action on the 3rd of May at Villiers-Bretonneux, France. He serve in the 23rd Battalion of the Australian Army.

They  recently  found him, after excavating the battle ground. He was blown to  pieces whilst charging the german lines.

I  often think about this. Why? It seemed so pointless, and I  am certain that  the majority  of the French people don't give a "shit."

Guy was from Caiwarro originally, but grew up  later in  Melbourne Australia.

I  also think  fondly of Roy Dunk- another relative, from the station Warroo, who fought in the last  charge of the Light Horse at Beersheeba. I  had the privilege  of meeting  Roy  some years ago. His biography make compelling reading, and of course Tibby  Cotter  who was there as well.

Finally,  I  remember my  uncle Ken Cotter who  served most of WW2 as a forward scout/surveyor for the artillery in the Australian army. His stories also were compelling.

I  still remember him when there were thunderstorms and he would retire and lie on his bed with  his arm over his face.  I  have his medals.

I  have a brother in law who  has done a number of tours in Afghanistan. On the other side of my  family  are Desert Rats from Tabrook as well.

Again why? That  area is such a stupid place, as is the   rest  of the middle east.

These were brave men. Naive perhaps by todays standards. But prepared to lay  down their lives for a friend.

Its a message that we all need to  remember.

"They  shall not grow old as we are who are left to grow old.

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in th morning.

We shall remember them."

I  shall be mustering near Warroo and Caiwarro on Anzac day, and I  will remember my  brave uncles and cousins.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MX Crash

This You  tube video shows David at training, and his friend filming. David is the bike out front, and is pulling away  from the group, when  his front tyre scrubs out and he crashes.

We are fortunate that  no one was injured. His bike is a "write -off," and other bikes sustained damage as well.

Rider 55, who's Yamaha flies through the air, is not happy that  David passed him  earlier and lets him know in  no uncertain terms!

Clearly, he should join a pensioner team or watch  television.

David is very  upset that he has ruined a bike that we have just spent thousands on.

I  am  just happy  he, and everyone else walked away.  I  am  also  happy that  rider 55 did not "go on" with it, as the outcome would have been poor for him.

If you  are offended by bad language ( swearing)  then  don't watch.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What have we done?

Well, the first national East Coast Series  race Dave did was in Canberrra on an overcast drizzly day. The track has received 30mm of rain  and was an utter bog. The junior riders had certainly  churned the track up the day  before, and even with the tractor out, the race was borderline cancelled.

Eeeek! Just  look at that  track

Experienced contenders, (read- with  plenty  of money too), had pressure cleaners, changes of clothes, and some even had two bikes.  The idea being that, once covered in  mud the rider simply  got into clean, dry outfits, on a clean and dry bike.  Pit crews in the meantime cleaned the bike just  ridden ready  for the next  race.
We are not in that  position and so Dave spent the day  covered in mud and we did our best  to  remove any  mud from the radiators and drive train.

Dave looking clean.. but not for long!

Basically  ridding in these conditions is a bit of a lottery, especially  with the inexperienced and there were plenty  of falls/crashes to  see. The good news is- its a soft landing. The bad news is- as the bikes go around they collect mud at  such a rate they  get heavier and heavier, so  if you  crash late in the race its very  difficult to  even pick the bike up.

Mud monster!

Overall, we had an enjoyable day albeit a tiring one.  Dave raced in Senior Lites   for 3 races and came 6th  overall. A great  result as there were about 30 other rider in his class.
The bike?  Well, you  can  see the result.  Mud gets into everything. We have to rebuild the rear swing arm and wheel  axle bearings need to  be removed and re-packed.  The bikes really  suffer. However, that's racing.


We are looking forward to the next round!

Sunday, February 2, 2014


What on earth  are they?? Well, with  the race season about to  start, and the race bike fully  prepared below are some "selfies" Dave, Nip and our new addition to  the place…Chrissy Carol- a red cattle dog I  got at  christmas…hence her name…

So….here are the selfies guys….

The race bike all dress up  and ready  to  race next week!

Selfie king Nip  with  Dave...
And introducing the new selfie! Chrissy Carols! Both  very  cool dogs!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Semi-arid break Pt2

So, where does your meat  come from?

Chances are, if you  are looking for best  quality,  it comes from here.  North western NSW or south  western Queensland.

Nothing would survive out here if it was not for bore water and the best  2 inventions in addition to  water for outback cattle stations are- the UHF radio and poly  pipe.

My  uncle, Jim Cotter, on Boorara (now Kilcowera) at a cave near the Murders bore

When  my  grandfather worked these properties, bore water flowed across open "table drains". This is much  less efficient than using pipe to  run the water to  water troughs.

Its a primary  function of cattle production to  keep these troughs clean. Cattle don't drink from dirty  troughs, and in drought, the troughs become focal points for native wildlife, stock, was well as ferals.

Later Harley  Davidsons with  side cars replaced horses- Jim Cotter on rocky  rise Boorara

Pigs, for example, will  have a swim and sometimes their young will  too. Sadly  unable to  get back our they  can  drown.  I  need not tell you  what  that  results in.

Rounds troughs are not as good as long troughs, as they are more like a swimming pool. Longer troughs reduce the number of animals that  choose to  swim.

Dave checking the well being of the cattle dogs whilst the Cruiser idles in the heat… the terrain not much  different to 60+ years ago...

So, Dave and myself spent the day  with my cousin Frosty, driving across a couple of hundred thousand acres, cleaning troughs.  Its simple enough- a scrubbing brush, pull the plug and let the water out. Some of the troughs were ok- just. Others, on a neighbouring property  were utterly  putrid and stank.

Its hot work.. You  count even risk turning off the land cruiser in the it may  not start, and it can be 80km to  walk back. Impossible in  50c heat.

Frosty giving the dogs a swim in 50c heat as we clean the trough

Again, like the day  before by 2pm its just  too hot to  continue, so  an ice cold beer and a chat were the order of the afternoon.

How can  you  tell a good cattleman? By  how clean his troughs are. Frosty's are very  clean!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A semi-arid break pt1.

I  must  admit I have enjoyed many  great  locations at this time of year. I  particularly  remember Paris and I  particularly  remember the Lakes District in Cumbria UK. Both  beautiful, both wonderfully memorable.

Dave driving the cruiser

However, I  do  love the stark contrast of the semi-arid regions of Australia. Again, in the pursuit of history we found ourselves back along the Dowling track, and again  to visit  my  cousin "Frosty" on his property called "Boodgherree"(  pronounced boo-gerry).

The area is about to be drought declared, and I was curious to  see the stark contrast with the past 2 years, and as recently  as April 2013. We stayed at the wonderful shearers quarters on Kilcowera and enjoyed the hospitality of the Sherwins. Geoffs property  is next door and a "short" 15klm drive door to door.

Sun up and about the ride off to Lake Wyara. ( looong shadows!)

The following day, dave and I  got up at first light, and prepared our motorbikes for the 70-80km ride through the properties to Lake Wyara. The contrast against previous seasons was never more apparent.
There were few birds, all water holes had dried up, and starving emus, could only  walk a few paces before collapsing from starvation.

The track was dry, dusty and even in the early  morning waves of heated air washed over us. It was going to  be hot. 47c. The tracks are a mixture of sand, rocky outcrops and creek wash outs. You have to  have your wits about you, watching out for kangaroos, emus as well as charging cattle. All can  knock you  off your bike in an instant. There is just no chance, being over 30km from help, that  you  could simply  walk back with  a shrug of your shoulders.

Finding shade where we could to  have a drink and a short rest.

Our riding was easy  on the bikes, easy  on ourselves. There is no room to  risk losing a chain, or any breakdown for that matter.

The lake itself was 2 klm further away than it was back in April. I  was amazing at just how unforgiving outback Australia is.

We returned via the Murderers Bore and I  was quick  excited to  find some of the landscape that my  family had photographed in the 1940s, when this was part of Boorara. I  find linking evidence of old photos with  today,  exciting.  "Forensic", history research is what I like. Sadly  our pastoral history will be lost.

Arrival at Lake Wyara. Hot dry dusty, and the lakes water on the horizon.

It was several hours before we returned to the shearers quarters., Hot, covered in red dust, and thirsty.  In that heat the air acts like a hair drying, and it seems you cannot get as much water in as the air is drying our of you.

A chair set up  under the Pepper tree

A rest for 40 winks was in order before a late afternoon of bird watching. The shade of the Pepper tree and the green grass that  surrounds the shearers quarters a refreshing contrast to the death of drought.
Here I  set up  my  camera, bird book and binoculars to  try  and capture photos of the birds coming to  drink from a small puddle of water leaking from the tap. When  we packed to  leave I  stumbled on a cap that my  old friend, Jim,  left here in 2011. I  thought that  with  Christmas being a time to share with  friends and remember those gone, I  should take his cap with  us when  we are birding, simply  to  remember great  friendships, which  only  ever seem to last  a short time. I am  sure Jim  would have got a laugh.

Pt2 Working on Boodgherree. Cleaning water troughs, and checking stock…birds seen..

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Well deserved rest!

Well, its time I had a well deserved rest, and having loaded the Cruiser with  2 bikes, camping equipment, we are heading towards Hungerford/Thargomindah at  2am tonight.

My  new motorbike

Temperatures will be 40c+. However we are well prepared with icy cold beer, bird books, binoculars, water, breakdown equipment, extra spare wheels, food….you  name it! We are quite independent and capable.

Above is my  new bike… its set up  for mustering /droving, as well as birding. Bikes are great for sneaking up  on game.
Looks a mess but it will not be once tied down

The canvas covers on the seat and tank protect the bike from the scratches from dogs and general wear and tear.

Today I  found a cap worn by Jim when he was here in 2011. For the sake of nostalgia I will  bring it to   our favourite birding spots. I  hope my  UK and Austrian friends will enjoy that!

This is a semi arid trip in drought conditions and requires real focus!

Well- See you  all  soon in Lamington land!