Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wildlife at Thurloo and a murder over the border...

Water flowing from the Bore number 2.

One of the many things I like to do of course is look at the wildlife on these trips. On the way to Thurloo I had the pleasure of seeing grey and red kangaroos, mobs of horses, emu, dingo and of course- birds. If you are travelling out west I urge you to stop at the Bogan River Reserve at Nyngan. Here whilst you have a coffee break you will enjoy all manner of birds, including water fowl, birds of prey and mud nest builders. I have seen an Australian Crake and Nankeen Night Heron here.

Red-necked Avocet. ( click on photo for better view)

Perhaps the most interesting feature of great sheep and cattle stations are the Bores. These are sunk into the Artesian basin and are allowed to flow into man made lakes, and tanks. This, of course provides water for stock but also for wildlife and flora.
The water comes out hot and steaming and is good enough to make Whiskey from! As Peter said "The Landscape has changed a lot since your grandfather was here. I expected him to say it was worse, but instead he said " its far better now. More trees, more grasses and more water". This seems to fly in the face of the conservationists.

Black Kite flies in for a look...
Number 2 bore was put in when Plummer was manager and it therefore held great interest for me. A Red-necked Avocet was one of the feature birds on its small lake. following the shoreline a Black fronted Dotterill, almost invisible.

Black-fronted Dotterill. Almost invisible without a zoom

The Berawinnia Creek was full and the trees which lined it were looking superb. Peter says the water should last about 9 months before drying out. A wide variety of ducks and Australian Pelicans graced this section of the property.

Berawinnia Creek.

This was a very special trip for me and I hope to be able to return and spend more time learning from Peter and his family. Many, many thanks.

Birds seen:-Australian Raven, Little Crow, Little Raven, Galah, Pee Wee, Australian Magpie, Masked Wood Swallow, Crested Pigeon, Nankeen Kestrel, White-faced Heron, Australian Grey Teal, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, White-winged Cuff, Willy Wagtail, Black-shouldered Kite, Masked Lapwing, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Ringneck, Apostle Bird, Yellow-throated Miner, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Square-tailed kite, Australian Darter, Welcome Swallow, Red-rumped Parrot, Yellow Billed Spoonbill, Australian Wood Duck, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Nankeen Night Heron, Little Pied Cormorant, White Browed Babbler, Emu, Australian Ibis, Intermediate Egret, Major Mitchell,Australian Pelican, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White- plumed Honeyeater, Diamond Dove, Hardhead, Zebra Finch, Peaceful Dove, Grey fantail, Tree Martin, Red Necked Avocet, Australasian Grebe, Black Fronted Dotterill, Australian Pipit.

Next Week- A trip to Kilcowera Station, (formally part of Boorara), in outback QLD and the Murderers Bore.

A quote from the Newspaper. " I GOT PANICKY AND I BURNT HIM"

Boorara Murder Trial.

"I told Bill he could not drive a wheelbarrow, and he made a hit at me, (with his left fist, and I hit him with my left fist, his head bumped the anvil above his leftear and he became unconscious; he -lived for about 20 minutes. I got panicky, so I decided to get rid of his body. I built a fire at the back of the cooking galley and I burnt him. I dumped some water on the coals and collected the bones at sunrise and dropped them down the bore hole."-These statement* were allegedly made by James Callaghan, 60, boring engineer, on December 5th, when a" police party recovered bones and charcoal from the bottom of a deep bore hole at Boorara station... 10th January 1941. Quote Charleville Times Brisbane QLD.

What did Jim Cotter have to do with this? Find out exactly what my uncle was up to when I return from the Murderers bore......

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Rubbish Dumps

One last muster?

All of the pastoral properties have a dump. This is where anything that has been worn out, or broken go to rest. Naturally, over an entire life time of the properties these become important archaeological places. You can trace the prosperity, the hardships, and the lifestyle of the people who worked there.

One last run before the end of day

I wandered throughout the place and found pumps, a dozer, motorbikes, trucks, utes, bottles..in fact a host of items that I found interesting including the usual steam engine tractor. Most of these consumed so much wood that they were left stationary to drive the shearing shed.

I think I can make it back!

Some units dont make it back to the dump. This old truck was left standing near the chiller room in a remote paddock. and was in surprisingly good condition for its age. A restorers delight! It too had a belt drive to run the equipment needed around the chiller. E.g saw blades etc.

If only I could remember where I left my chassis.

Peter seemed to have quite a number of Daihatsu rocky utes. I asked him why. He informed me that these were the only utes that were not too big to get bogged and stuck, yet large enough to carry a full load. The current landcruiser utes have become too big for the type of paddock work Thurloo demands. Now no longer in production, Peter buys a ute when he can and keeps it running with the parts from these older ones. Makes perfect sense.

One last stump to pull?

I wondered about for hours amongst the wrecks. There is not just machinery, fencing wire, posts, pipes, shearing blades, tins, cans, tools all have seen better days, all tell a story of boom and bust. The cycle continues.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Queens Birthday.

In honor of our Queen, ( and of course Dr Jim Fowler who forgot to take his flags and Union Jack plates home last year!)

With my friend Badger being a republican, and it being the Queens birthday weekend I chose to head out to Willandra National Park to check out the bird life after the floods, and of course to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's birthday. I am certain Badger is only jesting when he declares he is a republican, I mean the monarch has brought so much good to the rest of the world and I would not be living in the best country in the world if not for its institution.

Willandra buildings.
I discovered some plates and British flags that my good old friend Jim had brought here last year when celebrating the Royal wedding, and in true fashion I toasted the Queen with an ice cold can of VB.

On a serious note. Willandra was looking superb. Cool with temperatures ranging from 0-13c, bright sunshine and the residual benefits of the past 2 years rain, both the plains, grasses, salt bushes and swamps were teaming with life.

Halls lake is only a few feet deep- perfect for Pink-eared Ducks.

Squadrons of Pelicans, Egrets, White-necked herons as well as many other birds graced us with their presence. So too did the fox, feral cat and a mob of pigs! Grey and red kangaroo as well as emu ran beside the vehicle and was all so iconiclly Australian.

Sadly by not paying attention I nearly got bogged, a dreadful situation as there is no help for at least 50km in either direction and on Sunday night was dragged out of bed by Police who thought I was a pig hunter~ Once they had checked me out- all was well!

The FJ at the shearers quarters, looking a little worse for wear with the mud!

It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend, great birding, fine food, a HUGE log fire...memories of singing for the Queen when I was a kid, and of course a toast to our good friend Jim.

Pink-eared Duck.. enjoys flooded areas where its strong bill shovels the mud in search of a meal

Birds Seen:- Australian Pelican, Yellow Spoonbill, Australian White Ibis, Straw-necked Ibis, Australian Hobby, Grey Fantail, Australian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Pied Cormorant, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Red-capped Robin, Great Cormorant, Great Egret, Pink-eared Duck, Australian Pipit, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Sacred Kingfisher, Tree Martin, Welcome Swallow, Crested Pigeon, Black Kite, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Galah, Emu, Australian Grebe, Wedgetailed Eagle, Yellow thornbill, Swamp Harrier, Reed Warbler, Variegated Wren, Australian Ringneck Parrot, Eurasian Coot, Masked Lapwing, Silver Gull, Red-rumped Parrot, Laughing Kookaburra, Crimson Rosella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Brown Falcon, Australian Magpie, Magpie Lark, Willy Wag-tail, Apostlebird, Blue Bonnet Parrot, Whistling Kite, Nankeen kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite, White necked Heron, Intermediate Heron, White-faced Heron, Pied Butcher Bird, Short billed corella, Australian Raven, White-winged Chuffs, Peaceful Dove, Little Crow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thurloo Buildings

The Shearing shed Circa 1928

In previous posts I talked about the buildings. These are the "main" buildings. The woolshed, and the main home. There is a lot of history here. The following photos show the exterior and interior of these important Australian landmarks.

Next week I will talk about the rubbish dump- important archeological sites, the bores, the birds and wildlife.

Sheep yards which lead to the entry of the shearing shed.

Quite a lot of original fences and outbuildings remain. The original shearing shed burnt down and was replaced by this.


There is something very special about shearing sheds. Difficult to define but you can "feel" the history.

The sheds workshop.

Unlike the sheep stations that have become national parks the working areas are just that- working areas still in use today.

The homestead front facing the creek

This is a typical grand Australian homestead- cool wide verandahs, high ceilings and generous proportions. Peter has done an excellent job in modernizing whilst still maintaining the original feel

The rear yard.

The rear of the property was completely removed and a new addition for the kitchen, office and dining room was added. Again using timber window frames, and correct brickwork, its a seamless transition from the new area to the original Pise dwelling. No one used the front entrance to the property. In fact the grand hallway was used as a formal dining room such was its scale.

The beautiful doors.

Tall ceilings, thick walls all create a feeling of peacefulness in each room. All generously proportioned, She is a grand old lady that will see many more years.

There is not much else to say- walking amongst the buildings, and the hallways was a fantastic experience. To think of my family living and working there. My sincere thanks to Peter and Wendy for the opportunity.

Next week! The old cars, trucks and machinery!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

my son is a lunatic.

With the rain and the wind making things damp, foggy and miserable, what better excues that to get the 150 out of retirement and make a video.

Doing "donuts" around his mate who filmed it. Please note the safety equipment- board shorts and a helmet....

Anyway- the music is a nice touch, and both boys returned covered in mud and sopping wet..guys- you could have edited the bits where Dave disappears! lol!