Thursday, February 12, 2015

The year that was and 2015

Lets be frank- I  have neglected this blog, and its readers. I  am sorry. 2014 was a year of extremes, highs and lows and  whilst I  wait for 10am to  start the mower up and clean up the place I  thought i  would grab a coffee and reflect over the past  12 months or so. I have broken it into  sections.

2014 Motocross race season. 

Started well. The 2011 Honda was performing well, and Davids maitnance of it meant we had had a brilliant run interns of engine life. Whilst  we could not win races, as the bike simply  did not have the power, it handled well and he did well... until a crash virtually  "wrote the bike off".

I  had to  act fast and purchased ( against my  gut feeling) another Honda CRF250re 2014 model.

What  a dud. Honda have made the bike handle better but the bike feels down on power, poor brakes, and looks too small. No matter what handle bars we fitted, suspension changes, exhaust systems and airbag. David wold start the race well (  top 5) but by the end of 15 minutes would be back to  12 place (  out of 30).  This resulted  him  trying too hard and finally  another massive crash... again nearly  writing the bike off.

The best  bike Yamahas YZ250 2 stroke fitted with  "Shock Treatments" suspension kit and some minor carbie mods.

Further to  this, I had a major disagreement with the owner of the local Honda Shop, and after spending 10's of thousands of dollars with  him, I  moved across to Yamaha.

The Highs- The Yamaha YZ250 2 stroke fits David better. its higher and slightly  longer.  It  produces 48hp out of the box and the suspension is very  good also. Being a 2 stroke its cheaper to  maintain.
The only  criticism is- it was very  "snappy". difficult to ride as the power comes on so hard and quickly. The bike is a "point and shoot" style. If you lose concentration, it will "bite you".

Some simple mods keep the ponies moving smoothly and these are- smaller pilot jet. Larger main jet ( x1), Suspension tweaked with  gold valves by Shock Treatment. A 13 oz fly wheel weight, larger front disc rotor, the Yamaha race pipe.  Simply  put, the flywheel alows to 48 horses to  spin up  earlier and hold on longer. This allows the bike to "hook up"  in  corners better, remain on the boil longer, and pull more smoothly.

Tomorrow we take the bike out to a test track for some training.

Travel- not much  to  talk about. I  have not done any  OS travel, but certainly have enjoyed my  trips through the old stomping grounds of the family (  Bourke- Hungerford- Wilcannia -Wanaaring) I love the history there and the people too. this year I am  hoping to  get to  see my  doctor in Paris.

I  did not really  enjoy Innaminka. the road out there is like a conveyor belt of caravans all leading to a "tip.". Give me the Darling river catchment any day.

The Paroo River.

Work- Very  exciting! I am doing a couple of days a week at the motor auction, the valuation business is building and I have been  in  Queensland doing work for major clients.
I  love it, and the fellow I  work for is an utter gentleman. A real  pleasure, even when we are under pressure.

Real Estate:- After years of working for McGrath it was time to  move on- a new company  with a new vision and "next level" services.    well worth  checking it out.  I am the senior auctioneer and am given the task of creating an auction department from  scratch. The market is strong, so  now was the time to  give it a go...

All done? SOLD!

Personal:-  Do we ever stop worrying about our children? There have been  some very  stressful moments, through no ones fault. Its just  life.There have been  some of the most wonderful moments too-

We became grandparents and welcome our grand daughter, Elisabeth  Joy,  to  our world.  She was born in Texas to Chris and Susie. Birth was easy, 14 minutes!  Everyone is doing well.

Fitness- what  fitness?  Since the surgery  in 2011 its a real struggle. I  can't "trust" the ankle, as it goes out without warning. I  have been  riding the bike once a week, however it really  flairs the arthritis up  dreadfully.. the only  answer is pain killers or beer....

I  intend to push  on  with  it. If it does not improve I  may  start at the gym.

Haemochromatosis-  This is my 13 year of treatment. We tried every 3 months but the iron levels rocket, so we are back to  every 6 weeks.  Its quite a drain (  forgive the pun).  I  have had some cancer cut out too. Shoulder, back and hand. all as a result of being a kid in Sydney  running around without a shirt in the sun...

Birding-  Arrrghgghghghgh!  I  have only  time to  do  it on the run!  A few lists when  travelling out west, which  really  only  allows me to  spot larger birds.. Brolga are my  favourite at the swamps of Yantabulla NSW. they are just  "such a bird". Whistling duck too was nice.  However, to  try  and find "small brown flitty  things" ... well with  3 jobs/Motocross etc I  just  run out of time..

Avocet at Kilcofwera

Vehicles-  By now you  know I  am  a real enthusiast for vehicles.  Strangely, even though I  can  drive anything, my  favourite is the Toyota Landcruiser. I  bought a new 2014 GX tray back in August, as there are rumours Toyota are going to  stop  production. They are certainly  stopping the 3 seater model.

I  love it, albeit I  don't like the airbags or the ABS.. ABS makes braking on dirt longer and sometime you  need to  be able to  lock the brakes up.  The Toyota Bull bar is not.... its winch bar. so  even with side rails I  would not want to  hit a kangaroo or emu. However its the last  of the tough trucks, the V8  is just a beauty.. perhaps too much  power for soft conditions.. earlier, the V8s had a reputation for burning oil. My  previous on did not use any. The new one did up until 10,000km and now none.

The new cruiser

People ask  me why  don't you  like airbags? well they  only  protect you  from  "one hit" multiple hits and you are cactus...they also  mean the dash boards are made form  soft plastic.. no good if you are in and out with  work tools/boots/bags etc..

2015 what  will it hold? There is no doubt on the world stage things are getting worse. Islam has a real problem on  its hands which  means we have a real problem on our hands. Russia- well, all the signs are there that thats moving into a very  difficult space too.

I am  grateful  to  live in  a free country. I  want 2015 to  be a year of peace, prosperity, and joy.

I  want to  thank my  friends both  here and overseas for your support and enthusiasm.

Remember " Speed is not the answer. Direction is. There are plenty  of people going no-where fast"

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2015 first ride

As many  of my  friends know I had surgery on an ankle in 2011, and despite a lot of rest, it has proved to  be a problem, often "clicking out" when I  least  expect it.

As such  the bikes have sat  in the shed pretty  much  since then.

Well, I  went over to my  UK friends blog " No Hidden Lycra", and became inspired to  give it a crack.

The tried and true Cannonade Prophet turns 10 years old this year!

So, today I  took the Cannonade Prophet down to  the polo fields simply  to  "spin" along the flats and see how I  shape up.

Needless to  say, I am  unfit. Too much  Christmas pudding, beer and wine have seen to that, and I  am  a long way  off doing 200km a week.

Today  was warm, and the fields looked good with  horses and cattle. I  set off and kept the gearing up  so  that I  had to really  spin (  i.e. get the revolutions rocketing).

The ride was short 15km. However I was breathing quite hard when I  returned to the truck.

The plan of action is- one month  3 days a week at this distance, increasing to  25km the following month, then introducing some hilly terrain.

Overall I  felt good, no ankle soreness and I  am  keen to  get back out!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Innaminka Station and the year that was.

Innaminka Station is located in the north east  corner of South Australia. Its a total in excess of 2 million acres and carries about 13,000 head of cattle.

It  is part of the Sir Sidney Kidman dynasty and my  daughter works there. Just before Christmas I  drove up  to  collect her and back again. Its about 3400km round trip.

The new 2014 Landcruiser.

Seeing that I  seem to be spending more time in the outback, it made sense to buy a new land cruiser and get it kitted with a few essentials- bull bar, side rails, UHF radio etc.

The trip involves familiar territory- Kurrajong-Bourke-Hungerford-Thargomindah-Innaminka and return.

Small strip of tar in Ghost  Town of Yantabulla.

The road heading from Bourke to  Thargomindah is called the Dowling track. essentially  following the Cobb and Co coach  route it heads North west to the dingo fence and the township of Hungerford, then onto Thargo.

The track from Yantabulla.

The track from Bourke varies in condition a great  deal, and in some sections can  be hard on a vehicle and its tyres. I  strongly advise to  carry  2 spares, extra jacks and wooden chocks, and run  your tyre pressure at 50psi at least.

Fords bridge is the first town- More just a great  pub and history. Yantabulla has a rural fire shed, public phone and looks like a scene from Mad Max- as if people just  left yesterday.

Hungerford is my  favourite spot. Population of 7, with a police station, a brilliant pub run by Grahame, and friendly  locals. Its always a good place to  stop  for lunch and a beer. Its even better to spend the night.

The next 210km the road improves greatly as the Bullo shire are constantly working on it. However the numbers of emus, kangaroos, wild horses and cattle also increases, and keeping a vigilant eye open as well as keeping the speed down are essential. Its not a track I  would recommend to  drive on at night, regardless of how much money you spend on  driving lights.

Thargomindah is a tidy town. There is a Toyota dealer, caravan park and general store as well as fuel.

I pulled in and topped the cruisers tank up and headed towards South Australia.

Innaminka on the horizon.

The road to  Innaminka is called "Adventure Way". In the peak tourist  season it looks like a conveyor belt with  white goods on it- being caravaners.  Its mostly a single strip of tar, with  heavy rocky edges.  The "Way" climbs through the Grey  Range and it really  does remind me of travelling on the bottom of a dry  ocean bed.

My advise to travellers on this section is-tune your UHF to channel 40. Road trains (  trucks with  3 or more trailers), mining vehicles and nut jobs towing camper trailers too fast are a constant.

Communicate with  on coming traffic, and get off the road.  Simply sitting on 100kph and passing another vehicle showers stones everywhere. Road train drivers cannot stop, or pull over as their rig can become twisted.. so be courteous and pull over.

The final section of road is dirt and in poor condition on the South Australian side.

Innaminka, frankly,  does nothing for me. There is a nice Pub, and a general store but thats it. I  pulled in  for a beer before driving the 3 km to the Cattle station.

The front lawn is a stark contrast to the desert just metres away.

Innaminka Station is at the pointy  end of the cattle production in  Australia. well run, well managed, it represents to best  of the best and carries on a tradition spanning over 100 years. My  daughters home is neat and tidy. The lawns are constantly  watered. One day  without and it dies. With  temperatures in the high 40's the cool of the verandah was most welcome.

The South Australian road.

A stay  over night, and an early  start back to  Sydney was in order. So I  hit the hay  early and the following day, repeated the trip back.

Vehicle report:-  I  meet a lot of tourists in my  travels, and they all want to  talk about vehicles and whats best. Many are critical of the Landcruisers, as they  talk number of airbags, KW, NM of torque etc.  Everyone is welcome to  an opinion, and I am yet  to  meet someone who has invested in $50-$100,000 tell me they  "got it wrong".

I  like my  Landcruisers. They are tough. The front end, with  live axle needs little or no repair, (  i.e. bushes) for 100,000km at  least. The V8 is lazy, good on fuel and the truck is happy  to  sit on 120kph all day with  a load on the back.

There is no doubt that the V8 is not as good in the bush, as it has too much  power for idling without wheel spinning, and I am  not too sure the airbag dash board will last like the old steel one.

My  daughters working dog- A Cooley. Smart and tough.

The wider tack at the front does make for interesting handling in  sand.

However,  it suits me. It  has a big clutch, big gearbox and big diffs, and that  is a formula for getting 400,000km out of it. Yes, you  do have to  keep onto the oil changes, and be sure the fuel is clean more than an  older one. Sure, statistically an Amerok/Ranger/BT50 produces as much  power and are more comfortable.  But they are not for me. The front ends fail, ( as it did in my  2011 FJ cruiser twice!), and as an auctioneer in the fleet  industry I see it first hand. The trim and fittings cannot stand the constant punishment of a life off road.  Yes, I  know mines are moving away  from Landcruisers- But those who  don't use roads (  Surveyors, cattlemen etc), still use the Landcruiser.  And whats this business of having to  change the oil in a BT50/Ranger 3.2 litre diesel in under 20 minutes or you stuff the motor?

So, I am delighted with my  purchase, and look forward to  many  more travels!

Happy  2015 to all my  readers.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Boorara 2014

 Having spoken to  family and friends, I  have decided to add some more photos and comments on Boorara.

Verandah along the old shearers quarters.

David and I went over a few months back to  see what, if any, work the National Parks have done  to improve the place.

The bore has been  repaired and the grass was freshly mown. Some of the older vehicles had been  moved to  one location opposite the fibro dwelling that  was the Boodgerie out station.

The workshop area.

I  was disappointed to  see the Boorara sign had been  removed from the properties gate, and in wandering around found that  all the roses has been  taken.

Mrs MaGrath had award winning roses and they were quite a feature of homestead life.

Steam Tractor lies in ruins beside the road to  Boorara.

Dave and I reluctantly  decided to  enter some of the buildings to  see what  condition they were in. Sadly, the main home has solid evidence of termite activity and water damage. The recent extensions, look poor as a result, but in no way as bad as the main home who's pise structure has really  suffered.

Not much to  say  here...

Some of the out buildings were worse, as you can  see by the photos. The managers cottage bathroom was in bad shape, as the shower head was running which  has rusted to  old bath tub out. Try as we might we could not turn it off.

The rusted out bath tube in the managers home.

We walked about, had a look at the workshop, and other buildings.

There is no power, as the 90 year old Lister generator was sold off at the clearing sale, and the National Parks rightly  don't want to  add power if its going  cause a fire, until its tested, and here is the concern-

Will National Parks restore Boorara to  its former glory?  Its history  as a Kidman property then purchased in  1930 by William MaGrath, and from  that  time,   uncle Jim was overseer until  his retirement. Its history  is rich.

Uncle Jim Cotter Standing on top of one of the mud springs, with his Harley Davidson, at the entrance to  Boorara

Or will Nat Parks do  what they  did to  Caiwarro? Just allow it all to  decay. Something Nat Parks are excellent at- measuring decay and decline. It remains to  be seen.

Here in Australia we have a cringe mentality towards our pastoral history. Those in politics who lean to the left, would want to wipe it from our countries story.

Emu Hall.  The late William Magraths Penrith residence.

Perhaps we can  all sit in the dirt and weave baskets?

Dave and I  left Boorara silently, wondering what  Jim Cotter and William MaGrath would be thinking.

I  bet  both are turning in  their graves.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Birding and walking the outback

With a day  off I  decided to  pack the truck and really  explore the country west of Lake Wyalla. I  wanted to get a feel for the terrain, see what birds were about as well as any other wildlife.

One of the many creek beds.

The trip would take me into gullies, across the top of hills and into far corners. The contrasts in Australia are immense. I  always get the feeling of being so small and insignificant.

Rustlers roost.

At  Rustlers roost I  found a wallaroo. For my  overseas readers this is  like a Kangaroo, only darker and much  more solidly  built. Their eating patterns are different to that  of the Kangaroo as well.  He was enjoying the shelter and shade of the cliff face.

Lunch was had at a dry  creek crossing. A humble sandwich and a thermos of coffee was the order of the day.
The birding was solid, albeit the numbers were down.  Blue Bonnet, Yellow-throated honeyeater, and White-browed tree creeper were just a few I  spotted.

Some of the features of this place are the rocky  rises. I  took the time to  climb this one, and I am  glad I  did. From here you  could see the lakes, the creeks, areas of green contrasting with dry colours. You can  see where thunder storms have rained in some places and not others.

From the top the view was simply  stunning as wedge-tailed eagles and whistling kites soared over head

By late afternoon I  had returned to  a glorious sunset.

Birds seen:- Boobook Owl, Australian Magpie, Australian raven, Little Raven, White-winged Chuffs, Apostlebird, Blue Bonnet, Pee wee, Yellow-throated Honeyeater, whistling Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, nankeen Kestrel, Emu, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cockateil, White-necked Heron, Pacific Black Duck, Pied Butcher Bird, White-browed Babbler, White-browed Treecreeper, Chestnut-rumped Thronbill, Rufus whistler, Hooded robin, Spiny-cheecked Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove, Black Swan, Swamp Harrier, Brown Falcon, Little Eagle, White-broed Wood Swallow, Little Corella, Zebra Finch, Australian pipit, Welcome Swallow, Wedge-tailed eagle, White-faced heron, Pink-eared duck, Black falcon, Black Fronted Dotterill, Crested Pigeon, Diamond Dove, Hoary-headed Grebe, Australian Pelican,  Black winged Stilt, Budgerigar, Major Mitchell, Chestnut -breasted Quail Thrush, Willy Wagtail, Australasian Shoveller, Pied Cormorant,  Yellow Spoonbill, Royal Spoonbill, Splendid Fairy Wren, JackyWinter, Laughing Kookaburra

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Yes, I  know the next post will be about more life on a cattle station.. but Dave has been  doing this trick on  his motocross bike- ENDOS!

Basically, what  you  do  is this-

 ride like mad….

 Then,  when you  have won/impressed/ or simply  been  happy  with  your performance,

 you  can  wow the viewer with  this-

And .. no… this is not photo shopped…. after this you  carry on..

I  think its cool…. others think its mad….

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Outback fencing

Evening on the banks of Red Hole.

Recently we went back to  our favourite spot, Kilcowera, to lend a hand and generally  enjoy  life on a cattle station.

I have always enjoyed fencing for some reason. It  must be the pace. You cannot work any harder, or faster than the fence and terrain will allow.

The fence with a lean to it.

The fence line here is about 200km, and was erected many  years ago to be rabbit proof, and dog proof. It makes it a lot of work to maintain, and frankly  would not keep  either out.

David and Greg straining the fence.

The terrain is tough and its a credit to Toyota that "old Whitey" still gets through with a full load of posts and wire. Greg puts it into all manner of wash-outs, and pushes scrub over with  ease.

Sand Monitor.

Whilst  working this chap walked up to  us as bold as brass and spent the entire time supervising our progress. Chestnut-breasted Quail Thrush were also a delight to see.

A couple of sandwiches and  a hot cross bun washed down with a cup of tea was the order of the day, as we progressed along the line.

I  must  confess I  love the contrast of colours.

The red, green, blue and mauve of an evening as we returned to the shearers quarters was a constant delight  "I  felt nature had let me intrude"* (* quote from the song Droving Woman).

By evening a couple of beers and a meal with  friends brings a contentment city  folk seldom obtain.

Next Post- birds seen, and some old properties that are in the first  stages of neglect.