Saturday, April 27, 2013

White water rafting

With  the Queensland outback and motocross riding at Lue a "distant", ( read last  week),  memory. I  thought what  can  we do  that  will  test a young bloke.

I  know! White water rafting! (  after all just  how boring can riding the above be??)

Penrith White Water Centre was created for the 2000 olympics and is world class. Now part of the Penrtih  lakes system its a fabulous place to  bird, and enjoy  aquatic sports.

Poor fellow.... nerves....

The lesson is 90 minutes long and the coaches teach the basics of white water rafting.. Paddling, steering, using body  weight, working as a team, PLUS setting the raft up  in "out of control" situations.
By that I  mean setting the raft up  to  capsize and teaching those who  participate how to  cope in those situations.

And away they go!

It was a blue warm day and the State Emergency  Services were also using the facility  to  practice water rescues.

Ooops!  get ready  for a roll!

I  was surprised that  Dave was a little nervous.. Having again completed the 145 foot jump on the motocross bike I could not imagine that  he had some nerves for the task ahead. But he did.

Yet after a few laps you  could see just  how "into it" the boys were becoming. following the excellent instruction coming from PWW instructor who informed the lads that  he did this on the river Nile, It was not too long before the boys enjoyed every moment, including a dunking and rescue!

After what seems to be a few moments ( read a couple of hours), the boys had finished their first day of instruction.  delight prevailed as I realised that  Dave had spent the time with  the 4 sons of one of my  long term friends, Bernie!

Dave and Bernies boys.

What a bloody small world! We had no idea until the event was over. A fantastic day  was had by all.

So Dave, more waves for kayaking or is the lure of the motocross track too much?  Time will tell.

Dave-dog surveying the wild blue yonder.....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Red Hole and the Murderers Bore

Dave riding out for a muster.

The bird life this time of year is not as good as it is in spring, and, many  of the breeds are hunkering down for the winter months and plumage is dull. However there were still  quite beautiful moments. One place in particular is Red Hole.

Red Hole Lagoon.

A shallow, seasonal lagoon, the Red Hole on Kilcowera is aptly  named for its unique colour. The water looks pinky crimson and reflects the changing colour of the sky.  It was a delight to drive out, pull up a chair and have a glass of wine whilst seeing Australian Black Swans, Australasian Grebes and Pink-eared ducks enjoying the environment.

The Murderers Bore.

I  noted with  interest that, when  we arrived, all but two birds moved to the other side of the lagoon. However 2 of the swans glided towards us and I  can  only  assume were sentries. They  only  moved away after it was clear we had binoculars and not a rifle.

The Murderers Bore, as mentioned in previous posts is where a body was stuffed after being murdered. The bore does not flow properly and I  wondered just  why that  was!

The Dowling track and the history  of the region is marvellous. There is something for everyone. If you are a caravaner, or into  history, or love our aboriginal past you  will  find something to do.

Birds seen:- Emu, Australian Magpie, Pee Wee, Whistling Kite, Black Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Apostle Bird, Wedge-tailed eagle, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Budgerigar, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow Spoonbill, Pink-eared Duck, Red-capped Robin, Native Hen, Pacific Black Duck, Masked Wood Swallow, Red-kneed Dotterill, Australian Pelican, Spotted Bowerbird, Pied Butcherbird, Black-faced Wood Swallow, White Browed Woodswallow, Sacred Kingfisher, Zebra Finch, Major Mitchell, Willy Wagtail, Blue Bonnet, Yellow-throated Minor, Australian Pratincol, Little Eagle, Brown Falcon, Black-winged Stilt, Australian Black Sawn, Galah, Hardhead, Australasian Shoveller, White faced Heron, white Necked Heron, Intermediate Egret, White Ibis. White-winged Chough,

Total 43.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Caiwarro and the Sacred Watering Hole

The sacred watering hole on the Paroo.

I  did not know what  to  expect at Caiwarro. Again, another part of our Cotter history. Greg from Kilcowera said " I  recall the clearing sale at Caiwarro". "there was a beautiful billiard table there and the only way  they  could get it out was to  run a dozer through the wall of the home".

There is nothing really  left. The homestead has been bulldozed into  a few piles and fenced off...

The main fireplace is all that  remains of the Pise built home.

Frankly I  felt a bit grim about this. There is evidence of all that  hard work, from the remains of the workshop, the managers cottages, the tennis court to the stock yards and meat  room.

Tennis anyone?

Its as if, what  these men and women did, does not count in our history. Again I  acknowledge our first Australians, and again I  acknowledge that  they  were invaded and treated badly, ( well worse that that). However, as I  walked through the ruins and looked across to the sacred watering hole, I did not see one of my  brothers camping, fishing or enjoying the Paroo.

Managers cottage

However, I  did see, back in Bourke, quite a few enjoying the other white fellas watering hole called a pub.  It was a long weekend too.

So, whats this all about? I witnessed feral cats, goats and pigs. I  saw only  one ranger vehicle, I saw  no brother "black-fella"(and I mean this in the sincerest terms- brother)

I  think its time we, as Australians stand up and acknowledge the "invasion" of Australia, and acknowledge that its irreversible.  Be proud of just  how hard the men and women worked, to  create the wealth that we enjoy  today. It  was the sheeps back until the 1970's. Today  its mining.

The workshop. Note the ramp in the background.

Its my  view, that  we are being hi-jacked by the left. Made to feel guilty, that what  we achieved, is wrong.  We are encouraged to eradicate  all that  we have done. Can I  claim my  indigenous rights back in Bantry  Cork? I  doubt it.

Can I  claim to  be proud of the pastoral history of Australia? You  bet I can. Do I feel deeply about the utter destruction of the Aboriginal history along the river? You Bet I  do.

The sheep/cattle yards.

As I  drove away  from Caiwarro, I  realised that we have both "lost out". Both  my  indigenous brothers, and my  pastoral family.

I  hope its not too late to  reclaim our rich heritage. Embrace our brothers and sisters and work towards real reconciliation. Not just  a hollow  "oops! sorry."

I  hope , one day that I  too can  stand along the Paroo, and talk of my  family in Wilcannia, to a "clever man" and share that  experience.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Currawinya National Park

Currawinya Shearing Shed

Whilst Plummer Cotter, the Bartons, the Howchins, the Dunks, and MaGraths worked on the properties I have previously  mentioned, Alfred Cotter was managing Currawinya and Caiwarro. So it was worth the trip to see what  remains of these.

The shearing shed is a good one, well laid out and in good order it would not take much  to "turn on the lights" and start up.

The shearing stands

The same could not be said for the shearers quarters, kitchen, and meat  house.  QLD National parks have used concrete reinforcing steel to "wrap" some of  the buildings  disallowing access.  I  can  only assume the buildings are unstable.

The engine that  drives the shearing gear.

Reflecting on what I  have uncovered over the past  12 months it leads me to  ponder about just  how "proud" are we as a nation of our pioneering history.

It seems we have a cringe mentality  to  it. There is no doubt that what happened to the Aborigines was, and is, appalling and I  acknowledge the utter devastation  that  occurred to them. However, our current prosperity was forged by those women and men who created these great sheep stations. Yes there war tyrants, but there were many more good people.

The shearers accommodation

It seems that  National parks are very  good at measuring decay, and are lousy at any  real positive input into the natural environment or real maintenance of the buildings that  people worked hard to establish.  I  say  this with  confidence based  on  what I  saw. 1. Feral cats at  lake Wyalla, 2. the building condition, 3. the utter waste of money  in creating sculptures   welcoming you  to the park. are just  a couple  of examples.

Sheep yards

I  give the area about 10 years.  When all the older cattlemen and women retire and are forced to sell and use there properties as their superannuation.  I  doubt if the government has enough resolve to invest in our pastoral history.

The country  here is good. Flood out with a great  mixture of herbages. It seems such a date to  leave it to the ferals.

We left Currawinya and headed towards Caiwarro.

From a pastoral history  perspective Caiwarro will prove a worse example.