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.

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!