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!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I  would like to  wish  any one reading this a very  Merry  Christmas and Happy  New Year!

Merry  Christmas from the crew!

Yesterday  we spent time practising "whips". This is where you  approach  a motocross jump,  angle the bike on the up ramp and "whip" it across the table top section.

It was really  very  hot at  42c, and the guys needed a lot of water after each  session.

Davids friend Gareth is perhaps the best  rider I  have seen, and below is a series of photos on how just to  whip it good!

Gareth "mid whip"

Bringing the nose down for the landing...
Another perspective….

..then once landed, hard left turn and into the straight!

A great  lesson in how to  do  it right.

Merry  Christmas!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Droving Women

In researching my families pastoral  history,  the one thing that really  sits in my  mind is the life the women had. Every bit as tough and as hard as the men, only  different.

I  really  would like to  make their story heard as well as it is in this song.