Wednesday, 11 December 2013


My wonderful father passed away last week.

It was very sudden...but not totally unexpected as he was in a nursing home and very frail.

A recent photo of Dad with me on the left and Wendy my sister on the right.

He achieved a lot in his 82 years. He wasn't a fact he lived and died in Longreach which is a small town in the central west of Queensland. He never left Australian shores.

He probably spent a total of 5 maybe 6 years in other parts...but as I said Longreach was his home and he loved it completely.

View of Longreach 2013.

During the last few years, my sister's and I would take turns to go out to Longreach and spend time with Dad.

 His favourite place to visit was  the Airport where he would look at the display Qantas jumbo jet and more recently the Catalina Flying Boat. He could tell you all about both.

 He loved planes.

The Qantas jumbo jet on display in Longreach

The other 'must' was to take the short trip out to the Thompson River which is just west of the town.
 He loved nothing better than to sit by the river.. light up a smoke.. and take in the view.

The old bridge across the Thompson River at flood

An old photo I found of the Thompson River a dry time.

 Dad was the last descendant of the pioneering Archer family to carry the Archer name in our direct descending line from David of the original Archer brothers.

 He had a brother who passed away some time ago, and a sister who married and has 3 sons but of course they don't carry the Archer name.  Dad had all girls and his brother also had girls.

Actually this is not entirely true...Dad's brother had a son from his first marriage...who being the eldest son of the eldest son was called David after his grandfather and his great great grandfather.
Unfortunately he has cut all ties with the family...incidentally David only has one child and that child just happens to be a girl as well.

There is also one other male Archer but he is not married and is from a different descending line to Dad.

Are you thoroughly confused now?  Hopefully not.

For readers who don't know about the famous Archer brothers.....I will fill you in quickly.

It all started with  William and Julia Archer who immigrated to Norway from Scotland in the early 1800's. They had 13 children.... 9 of which were boys. The first 8 children were born in Scotland, the last 5 were born at Larvik (Laurvig) after they moved to Norway.

David was the third eldest son, and was the oldest to have a son and, as was the custom in those days, became the head of the family and passed that title on to my Grandfather David Archer.

 Julia (nee Walker's) family had interests in Australia so the boys came to Australia to work. To make a long story as short as possible...and still keep your interest....the Archer brothers formed a partnership of sorts and decided that the only way to get ahead in this young colony was to go north from their base in New South Wales and explore and ' take up country' of their own.

Charles Archer, he and his brother William were the first to discover and name the Fitzroy River and surrounding areas.

This they did ending up in central Queensland where the two brother Charles and William first rode over the hills from the South-West...know as the Dee Range and looked down on the mere, and further in the distance the big river which they named the Fitzroy after the Governor of New South Wales.

 The year was 1853.

They called their station 'Gracemere'. This name came about because Tom Archer was the only married Archer brother at this time and his wife's name was Grace. The word 'mere' is the Norwegian name for lake.

In the early days Gracemere stretched about 70 k's in each direction from the house....the old brothers probably never knew how much country they was probably somewhere between one and two million acres.

The boundaries would have been rivers and rangers with the eastern boundary being the sea.

There was one big paddock on the other side of the Fitzroy .....and big mobs of cattle were swam  back and forth.

They started there with sheep they had actually walked up the coast ...but after a short time they realised that the country was not suited to sheep they turned their eyes to the west and went exploring in that direction ...looking for 'sheep country'.

In 1857 they took up ' Minnie Downs ' at Tambo. They then walked 5000 odd sheep out there.

The homestead about 1950. 

Robert, my Great Grandfather, took over the management of  Gracemere from his Uncle Thomas. Robert's father, David was never at Gracemere.

The brothers that managed Gracemere over the years were...Charles, William, Thomas, Colin, James and Thomas again.

Colin arrived in 1855 and managed for only three or four years, during this time he designed and controlled the building of the house. He then went back to Norway and started building boats....but that's another story.

Getting back to my father. One of the things that kept Dad entertained in his declining years was writing. He managed to write 3 books...mostly about his life and the people that filled it.

He also wrote about his childhood growing up on a sheep station/stud outside Longreach... and his many visits with his parents to Gracemere..

Here I would like to take a paragraph from one of Dad's books...where he writes about Gracemere.

"I have known Gracemere since I was a little kid, and it has never lost any of it's charm for me. Imagine a two or three year old kid, who had never seen the sea, being taken through that lovely garden with those enormous trees, to the boathouse and looking out on the huge expanse of water. No wonder it left a life-long impression on me."

An old sketch of the back of the homestead. From left back of main house, kitchen, office, men's quarters. The banyan tree on the left is still there today.

The gracious old homestead still stands proudly on the edge of the lagoon and the wonderful garden  which has been tended by Archer women down through the years,  is today still a thing of beauty, and still tended by an Archer woman.

There is a small hill behind the homestead and on it's top is the Archer family cemetery. Archer's have rested there for over 150 years.

So this weekend my sister's and our family's, Dad's last surviving sibling his sister Clair and her children will return to Gracemere where Dad will be laid to rest.

He will finally be at peace once his ashes are buried there along side his Grandparents....his parents..his brother and his wife.

The family cemetery which over looks the house and lagoon.

As I write this I am struck with the realisation that this is something that is very rare these days.
 I now realise how very lucky we are as a family to be able to know that this is where we will go  at the end of our lives..... if we choose.

Some photo's of my Dad...Colin Mackay Archer.

Dad doing what he loved best...classing wool. 1980's.
As a young man 

Taken at the Archer family 150 year reunion in 2003...Dad and his girls. L to R Wendy, Sandy, Grace and Virginia.

Until next time

Saturday, 2 November 2013


Mustering cows 

We should be used to it by now...or rather we should have worked out how to cope better with would think after all Australia is the driest continent on earth

.We should all have a ' strategy ' ( hate that word ) in place.....or finances arranged and set aside.

You know something put away for a 'rainy day'...or in this case a 'lot of non-rainy days'

I'm sure people away for the rural industries probably shake their heads and wonder why they basically hear nothing about matters away from the big cities .....until there's a drought...and then a wet-behind-the-ears journalist is dispatched from Channel whatever with a camera crew in tow to rush out to the worst affected area's and shove a microphone in the face of a poor over worked desperate and  destitute farmer and ask him ...wait for it...what is he going to do about this DROUGHT!!!!

I saw it last night on the news.....I felt so sorry for the poor fellow trying to answer the stupid questions and not cry. I felt sooo annoyed and frustrated by the reporter's lack of understanding and utter neglect for the position the man was in.

Let me try and explain what we have here.

Drought in western Queensland

We'll use a fictuious farmer and call him Joe Blow...Joe for short.

 Up until 18 months 2 years ago he was chogging along making a living..not a fortune..just a living breeding cattle for the live export trade
...he had been doing this for quite a number of years and he and his bank manager had a mutual understanding. The bank lent him money to run his property and for his family to live until he mustered and wearned his calves from his cows.
Then these grown calves or wearners would be sold and exported.
 He would receive money for the sale of his cattle which would go to the bank to pay off the overdraft .....and things would continue in this way year in year out.

Breeders  going back to the paddock after having their calves wearned

When hard years came about and Joe was faced with a DROUGHT and he had to hand- feed his cattle to keep them alive he would go to the bank for more money and the bank would be happy to give him more because the bank would know that the market for his cattle.... eg the'trade' was there and even though the money per head would be less this year least there was income coming in and hopefully there would be good years to follow to the take up the to speak.

Now..because the export trade was stopped overnight by some 'do gooder' ...another story.
Joe was suddenly left with no where to sell his cattle.
The complete lack on any income was bad enough....but many other hardships arose from this predicament.

Feeding cotton seed to cattle to keep them alive during a drought

 ....His land which usually ran say 1000 cows that had calves at a rate of 70%.
 You never in that northern Australian country get 100% calving fact 70% is probably stretching things a bit Joe would in normal years get approx 700 calves..which grew up and were sold off.
 But now that he was stuck with these unsaleable (calves ) wearners.
So now he is being forced to run 1700 head of cattle.
Cattle tucking in
This causes what is called 'over stocking' and means the cattle eat all the grass available and when that is done the cattle starve to death.....unless the farmer hand feeds them at great expense.

 Joe feeds them as he loves his his own way...they are also his only way of making a living and he then has to go back to his understanding bank manager and ask for more money.
At this point the bank manager starts to become much less understanding.....he Joe has no way of repaying this extra loan to buy feed ..but the bank manager reluctantly lends him the finance. It's within his interest to do see.

 They both know this is the start of the end for Joe.

Coupled with this Joe has 2 children away getting an education at boarding school. This is necessary because of where his property is situated......500klms away from the nearest secondary school. The children were home-schooled by their mother until they needed to go to high school. These kids will now have to come home as Joe can't afford the fees or the travel costs. That's pretty much the end of their education...due to his lack of finances Joe can't afford payed help so the kids become his work force.

(can you imagine the uproar in the city's if a child couldn't finish he's or her education)

Joe has one option available to him and that is to take advantage of southern cattle markets.

 The saleyards can take his cattle ...... As it turns out he is forced to send his young cattle south..if only to get rid of them off his property to relieve the over stocking situation and stop the need to hand feed his cows, and hence gain some control over his finances.
A cattle sale ..buyers in the foreground..auctioneers on walkway.

 The closest saleyard is 1000klms away and the cattle are now not in very good condition to travel. The truck  trip takes 2 days. Half way into the trip the cattle are unloaded and rested and sometimes feed ( this depends on whether the stock agent in that particular town is prepared to get out of bed in the middle of the night or if he'd rather tell the farmer he'd done the job and charge him for the is he, Joe ever going to know if his cattle were feed or not.

When they eventually arrive they usually spend a few days in the saleyard waiting to be sold.

Cattle sold through the saleyard system are auctioned and  sold on weight ....cents per kilogram of beast weighted over scales.
So farmers try to get their cattle to the yard with the least amount of 'post and rail' or time spent in stock yards and off their normal pasture. Cattle will lose weight rapidly when under stress also.

As you can imagine Joe's cattle sale money didn't even cover the costs of the freight.

Cattle truck 

People have been asking..why is this drought worse than any other...including the 2000's one which in some parts of Australia went on for 8 years.

Because if you are Joe and he represents our northern cattle have been through all of the above and when you are well a truely on your knees you are hit with a drought and no money to fight it with.

Story continues....

Joe has not received any rain for 18 months. This drought has been coming on for all this time and Joe has for the past 3 or 4 months been hand feeding all his cattle. He is now past the point of no return with the bank and everything that is being spent is borrowed money.

Banks will lend the money to keep the likes of Joe going ...but only until the drought breaks and his property can be put on the market and sold so the bank can recoup it's investment.

When the little shinny journalist turned up at Joe's place the other day and asked him 'What is he going to do about the drought' .............What was Joe to say...pretty much what he said ...he is just trying to keep his stock alive....he is just trying to keep going day at a time....trying to keep food on the table....

He didn't say it was all over because he is a proud man like all men on the land ...they will give up with out a fight.

Some though are over the fight and just can't get out of bed and face dying cattle or dry dams one more day. ...these family's are walking off their places and leaving them to the banks...what's the point they say we don't own them !!

So when a polly in shinny new RM's goes up there to assess the situation and we see him on the ABC news picking his way carefully through poor ol'Joe's cattle yards trying not to stand on anything soft and squishy.... and holds a press conference while trying hard not to swat the flyes.....and tells how he is going to give X amount of relief dollars to 'keep farmers going through the drought' ...

Really as you can see by the above's like shutting the stable gate after the horse has bolted.

I personally think there is one sure way to correct this everlasting merry-go-round of drought..floods...good time and bad times.


 This bank would lend money at a very reduced rate....a rate that is low enough to allow progress and development to go ahead on farms. Also this would allow young.. go ahead... up and coming farmers to borrow money to buy their own farms. This is so important as the average age of farmers in Australia is 60+.
Lets keep young people on the land

So many talented young people from farming family's are forced to go to the city's to work and the times where farms were passed on from one generation to next is long gone ..The older generation
 is forced to either stay on the farm and die there.... or sell to retire.

There just isn't any money.

In answer to my question asked at the start of this rant ...

Why are farmers not prepared for droughts as we all know they are a regular accuracy  in this country.......??

I think I have answered that question

Until next time

REMEMBER... You can view my paintings and drawings check out my website I will ship any where in the world     

Contact be by email

Friday, 1 November 2013


Am I getting old and out of touch?

Am I the only person who is completely SHOCKED by the lastest work by one of ...I think....Australia's leading young artist?

I would love to know what others think of this ' work of art '

S'pose by now your wondering what I'm on about 

Well....wait for it

IT REALLY IS ABOUT SEX AND DEATH , IN THAT ORDER.... ISN'T IT.......Ben's facebook comment regarding this painting.

I just don't understand why this wonderful talented artist has to stoop to this deep depth is I would think done to shock , which is usually left to the untalented and disparate among us.

He is the one standing on the chair.

 ...just had to have a bit of a soap box moment .....hopefully he has this sort of thing out of his system and he will continue to blow me away with his usual masterpieces.

Such as this

I love the way he slaps on the paint and how he leaves the bare white canvas for his light.

That's all for now

Monday, 16 September 2013


One sex one year old wethers Isis Downs 1915

Saw this old photo of Isis Downs shearing shed taken sometime around the 1915.
 It is an amazing photo featuring 30,000 sheep waiting to be shorn.
Legend has it that all these sheep were ' 2 tooth's ' or in other words 1 year old and that they were all wethers (male sheep). Just think there were a female equivalent waiting in the wings!

I have had a bit of a search on the wonderfulworldwideweb and come up with some great old photo's of the famous 'Isis Downs Station' at Isisford. It has a wonderful history which goes back to the opening up of western Queensland. In the Isisford/Ilfracombe/Longreach districts it was one of the first stations taken up. Other included' Portland Downs' and 'Wellshot'.

Isis Downs shed  1915

This shed was built around 1910 and was revolutionary in it's day for a number of reasons...

Firstly it was semi-circular not heard of in shearing shed designs before. This was a lot more practical as wool tables were in the center of the shed with shearers working round the outside......roustabouts had less walking and sheep penned up well. There were probably a lot of other reasons but that's all I can think of with out delving into things more....lazy bloger....

Secondly it was run wholly on electricity.......this shearing shed in isolated western Queensland had 'power' before legend has it anyway.

How is this possible you ask. Electricity was produced from steam. The hand pieces the shearers used were driven by steam also. The shed could utilize 52 shearer's. All the wool pressers were stream driven and there was also a little steam driven train which had carriages to cart the wool from the main shearing shed to what was called the 'dump shed' where wool was 'dumped' into bigger bales to then  be loaded a steam driven loading system on to the first steam driven 'road train' which carted the wool to Blackall wool scour 100 miles away.

Teams of men worked for weeks before shearing to stock pile enough wood to keep the fires burning.

Isis downs at the time this shed was constructed was 234,000 hectares and ran 360,000 sheep. It also employed well over 100 men at shearing time.

A group of Isis Downs jackaroo's  1920

Pictured are some Isis Downs jackaroo's . These Jackaroo's were usually son's of land holders and were doing a sort of apprenticeship in preparation for taking over family grazing property's, or going on to management positions on big company places like Isis Downs.

Isis Downs station hands about to start a days work.  1915

On the other hand also employed were ' station hands'. These men were of a very different class and means to the 'jackaroo'. They were workers and most didn't stand to gain anything other than employment. These men didn't usually have a lot of time or patience with their ' upper-class' work mates and sometimes went out of their way to make the others life a misery.

Sunday afternoon tennis party. Isis Downs 1915

Jackaroo's because of their 'gentlemen son's ' status socialised with the station manager and his family. Station hands never did.

The grand old Isis Downs Homestead

The lovely old Isis Downs homestead. This was taken in 1915. It was one of the few station homesteads that sported a lawn. Most others didn't have the water supply for such a luxury. But Isis had a weir in the near by Thornleigh Creek which made this possible .

This I suppose was the 1900's answer to the 'Pergola'. Looks awful hot to me!!

Isis Downs thatched shelter 1915

Isis Downs as it is today

It is now owned by Consolidated Press Company. All trace of the once mighty sheep station has all but gone....except for the shed has not seen a sheep dragged across it's dusty board for a number of years ..but it is maintained to preserve history so that future generations can see how Australia was once built on the sheep's back.

Until next time


Oh I could dance a little happy dance!!!
I'm soooo happy to hear that Barnaby Joyce is now the new Minister for Agriculture.
This is such a POSITIVE improvement for our industry and all our agri businesses.

Barnaby will go in fighting for us we can rest assured of that.
I really think that things are going to turn round now for the 'Man (and woman) on the Land'.

Aside from Barnaby we have Tony Abbott at the helm and I am also a great fan of his...he is such a ' go getta' and I love the way he seems to at last have some understanding of what has happened to this great country of ours and what is needed to get it back up and running again.

We will really be OPEN FOR BUSINESS now........thank god.

But back to Barnaby......I really can't speak highly enough of him.

His passion for the land and it's people is quite moving.

He is like a blue cattle dog chomping at the heels of any one or thing he feels needs a 'sorting out'

He cuts straight to the point and doesn't beat around the bush...

And I think a lot of Politions are a little bit frightened of him...they just don't quite know what he is going to do or for that matter say next.....

Way to go Barnaby!!!

This is Barnaby the down -to-earth country boy

On a personal note .....Barnaby was along time ago our bank manager. He worked for Suncorp Bank in St George at the time we bought Argyle at Bollon and we dealt with Barnaby. I remember him then as being ...believe it or not... quite shy  and little unsure of himself. He has come along way since then.....

He has found his Passion and hit his straps and all of rural and remote Australians are right there behind him.

At last the future looks bright!!

Until next time.....

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Thought while I was on the subject of Droving .......

I want to share with you A.B. Paterson's wonderful poem


I had written him a letter which I had ,  for want of better
Knowledge , sent to where I met him down the Lachlan years ago;
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just on spec , addressed as follows, "Clancy of the Overflow"

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar);
'T'was his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it :
"Clancy's gone a droving, and we don't know where he are."

In my wild erratic fancy , visions come to me of Clancy
Gone-a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go ;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drovers life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on it's bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlight plain extended,
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunshine struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty dirty city,
Through the open window floating, spreads it's foulness over all.

And in the place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street ;
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal
But I doubt he's suit the office, Clancy, of the Overflow.

How about that....such wonderful words....

This poem was written in 1889.....124 years ago.

And he thought things were hectic then....

I love the line

" for townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste"

But the 2 most beautiful lines are

" He  sees the vision splendid of the sunlight plains extended
And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars"

 This 'Clancy of the Overflow' was a real person , Thomas Gerald Clancy who Banjo (A.B. Paterson)  contacted while he was working as a Lawyer,  regarding an unpaided account.
Thomas was working on a sheep station called 'The Overflow ' 100 klms south west of Nyngan in N.S.W

He received a reply that simply read

" Clancy's gone a droving, and we don't know where he are "

He though it looked like it had been written by a thumb nail dipped in this was the inspiration for this great Australian Poem....

It seems that the said ' Clancy ' years later wrote a  poem for Banjo called

                                                             Clancy's Reply

Neath the star-spangled dome
Of my Austral home,
When watching by the camp fire's ruddy glow,
Oft in the flickering blaze
The sun-drenched kindly faces
of the men of Overflow.

Now, though years have passed forever
Since I used, with best endeavour
Clip the fleeces of the jumbucks
Down the Lachlan years ago,
Still in memory linger traces
Of the many cheerful faces,
And the well remembered visage
Of the Bulletins "Banjo".

Tired of life upon the stations,
With their wretched, scanty rations,
I took a sudden notion
That a droving I would go;
Then a roving fancy took me,
And decided me to travel,
And leave the Overflow.

So with maiden ewes from Tubbo,
I passed en route to Dubbo,
And cross the Lig'num country
'where the Barwon waters flow;
Thence onward o'er the Narran,
By scrubby belts of Yarran,
To where the landscape changes
And my path I've often wended
Over drought-scourged plains extended,
where phantom lakes and forests
Forever come and go;
And the stock in hundreds dying,
Along the road are lying,
To count among the 'pleasures'
That townsfolk never know.

Over arid plains extended
My route has often tended,
Droving cattle to the Darling,
Or along the Warrego;
Oft with nightly rest impeded,
when the cattle had stampeded,
Save I sworn that droving pleasures
For the future I'd forego.

So of drinking liquid mire
I eventually did tire,
And gave droving up forever
As a life that was too slow.
Now, gold digging, is a measure,
Affords much greater pleasure
To your obedient servant,
" Clancy of the Overflow "

I read that Clancy and Banjo became life long friends

Until next time

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Over the past couple of weeks an interesting story is coming to light which has all the ingredients of a true Australian Outback legend in the making.

The right characters are all there. have at centre stage the

 BOSS DROVER.....then you have

A very large amount of ....


Then the great Aussie


taking a risk only a mad man would take

And lastly you have


....which to my mind is the most important ingredient.

The photo above is of the Boss Drover Bill Little who is probably a legend already in the Western parts of this great state of Queensland.
I'm not sure when he took on his first job of walking cattle from A to B. Thinking back it was probably around the mid 1980's

When ever you are driving the highways of the west and come across a drover it is usually Bill.
He is very noticeable by the way he sit in his saddle.

 A big man who is not to be messed with.....just the right ingredient for his ...I was going to say 'job' but I think 'passion' is a better word.

Droving is HARD you are out in the weather day after day night after night in all conditions.

You spend your days in the saddle and your nights in a swag.

There is no such thing as a day off.

You make discussions regarding your stock on an hour to hour basis and you and you alone are responsible for the safe arrival of these animals at their destination.

In this case this mob is worth in excess of $7 million

If you've had an inch of rain or 5 inches  and your horse and the cattle are knee deep in mud......if it is freezing with winds that will cut you in half....

It doesn't matter

The cattle still have to walk their 10klms a day ...this is the law imposed by the shire councils that the stock routes run through.

 A stiff fine is the result of not keeping the mob on the move.

But Bill is a master of his trade and if this outback legionary cattle drive is going to go down in history as the last great mass movement of cattle .....then having this man at the helm is the first ingredient for success.

The cattle have been purchased from the largest cattle company in Australia the Australian Agricultural Company know far and wide simple as the AA Company.

The cattle have come from the great cattle stations of the far north....places like the famed
'Brunette Downs'
It is situated on the Barkley Tableland of the Northern Territory.
It runs 110,000 cattle and is 660 klms north west of Mt Isa.

Then there's 'Anthony's Lagoon '
Another of the A.A. Company's major cattle factories.
It is also on the Barkley and is 440 klms north east of Tennant Creek.

And last but not at all least is

 'Camobie' which is in the far north west of Queensland and 180 klms from Julia Creek.

The cattle will be trucked to shires around the central western parts of Queensland

Aramac and

Each mob numbering 2000 head will be unloaded into the capable hand of drovers hand picked by the the boss drover.

They will follow each other leaving up to a week between mobs.

Bill will take the last mob.

In all 18,000 head of young female cattle will begin their journey south to Hay in New South Wales.

A journey of almost 3000 klms.

Bill has said he thinks it will take 3 months.

He is not concerned about the amount of feed for the cattle as they travel..but water he says will be the biggest thing on his mind as 18,000 head drink a lot and the stock route dams and troughs are not used to catering to this amount of cattle.

But of this he says that the cattle are all young and strong and if they have to go for a few 'dry spells' then this will not hurt them especially with winter in full force.

He says he is looking forward to the challenge and also feels that history is in the making...

Then we have the real risk taker enter South Australian Pastoralist Tom Brinkworth pictured above.

Don't let looks deceive you....

This humble looking 76- year- old  has a net worth of $200 million and controls   1 million hectares of agricultural land spread over 99 properties in his home state of South Australia and recently after purchasing the famous Merino Stud 'Uardry' has extended his interests into New South Wales.

 As yet he doesn't own any land in Queensland.

He also owns 350,000 sheep and 80,000 head of last count!!

In an interview which he rarely gives, he is quoted as saying he has always been a fan of another days-gone-by great Australian Pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman and says there is a lot to learn from this man achievements.

When asked if he considers himself a wealthy man he says he is 'comfortable'.....

" Wealth is related to the smallness of wants" he says.
He also says "I've got an awful determination"

.......... and a dream I'd say.

Well at last reports these 9 different mobs with their 9 different drovers and their men were all on the road and the 'Great Drive' has commenced.

I will try my best to keep you informed as this unfolds

Until next time.

Take a look at my paintings and drawings on my website

Friday, 24 May 2013


Today I was driving home from town and listening to the radio which is something I don't do that often...listen the the radio that is ...but as I was in the car I was listening . I heard that "the government" were going to do this great thing for the poor drought stricken... market falling...dollar dependant ..going out the back door ' cattle farmers', they were going to open some National Parks for the graziers to run their cattle....

Oh ..they wonderful they said... ' the Government' were reacting positively to the situation ...and they said quickly...they said...lets pat them on the back and sing FOR SHE'S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW!!!!
they said

WHAT? ....I said

 How many cattle will this help?

I don't know figures but I believe there are something like 3/4 parks being opened up for the drought stricken north of Australia cattle herd....

I just sigh...and shake my head......

As usual they have it all wrong..

 The average Joe sitting in the city with no conception of the person on the land's really tragic position, probably thinks that this is a great and wonderful solution to this distant problem.

  Now they can go about their business and think that the situation has been taken care of.

Let me tell you what I think....of course I'll except that I could be wrong but this is the way I see it.

These National Parks were originally purchased by the Government to preserve the different types of country that makes up this great and vast land of ours.

But I have an idea it was really to give some 'warm and fuzzy's' to the green's and ensure their votes.

 Once this country became the property of the Government they pretty quickly deteriorated into feral animal havens and became over run with toxic weeds.
In most cases they were shut up and forgotten, so any buildings, fencers, and watering systems that were originally used fell into disrepair.

So my argument is are these cattle going to be watered, separated &  managed?

How are they going to cope with the dingo's, wild pigs and cattle killing weeds

....... it just sounds like this has not been thought through at all.

Oh and while I'm on my soap box how about this little treasure I also heard ..the do gooder's are against these parks being opened.
 They are saying this shouldn't happen as the cattle will destroy the fragile ecosystems .

Are they actually saying that cattle should be left to die or be shoot rather than return this country to it's original use?? Are they saying that the 'ecosystems' are more important than living breathing animals??

 Have we strayed this far from reality?

I have been saying for some time the gap between the city and the bush is just too wide.....

Just as a P.S.

Our property boarders a National Park not a large one....but still a National Park.

 It is disappearing in both lantana and rubber vine.

 Lantana is toxic to cattle and it is can completely take over country if not poisoned and controlled.
 Rubber vine will not kill cattle but will spread as well.
In the 7 years that we have been here not a single govenment employee has been any where near this NP to check or monitor it's condition.

Until next time......

Sunday, 28 April 2013


Just home from a drive around the run checking to make sure things are as they should be.

Just checking watering points and that the cattle are where they should be. As it turned out this wasn't the case but with the dogs help this was sorted. 2 bulls and a cow were firmly put back where they belonged.

                                                    Job done....note the self satisfied looks

We then continued round the run and I couldn't help taking more photo's of the wonderful GREEN

                              Cows and calves grazing with stock water trough in the foreground.

                                               A nice view across the paddock to the hills.

Another with cattle and below is Mt O'Connell which joins our property and is a Natural Park.
                                 It is a great land mark and can be seen for miles around.

And of course some water

And  a little more

Well that will have to do for now.
This is why I live where I live.
 I am surrounded by beauty.

until next time

Sunday, 21 April 2013

DAYS AWAY continued

The drive from Isisford to Blackall has changed a lot in the past 30 years

The fact that it is all bitumen is amazing and that you can put your foot down and do the drive at 110k's, with the only concern being the odd kangaroo hopping across the road.

Back in the day it was a fairly rough two wheel mostly black soil track, you had a little bitumen on the other side of the river from Isisford but it stopped where the road turned off to Blackall then the next time you hit bitumen was at  the '6 miles' road junction just out of Blackall.

Many a road party was held either end where the dirt started or the bitumen stopped which ever way you wanted to look at it.
If you had been at the Tatts Pub in Blackall for a session, the ' roady ' was at the six mile....if on the other hand you had been to the 'Pictures' in Isisford then retired to Clancy's Overflow Hotel for a few until the then 10 p.m. closing time....remember that? You had the roady just over the bridge on the Barcoo under a big old  coolabah tree.

As I crossed the river out of Isisford I did glance over at the spot under the tree and remembered some good ol' times. There is now a monument under that tree commemorating the accidental drowning of a young girl back in the early  1990's.

After turning off from the Emment road on to the Blackall road you go over a grid which marks the boundary of the town common and 'Isis Downs'. You then travel about 20 ks through that 'grand old Dame' pastoral  station.

I could still recognize the country although it has changed a little where it has been cleared. Looked as though most of the sheep fences were long gone replaced with cattle barbed ones. A new set of cattle yards beside the road was also a bit of a surprise.
But the turn off into the station and the view of the famous shearing shed , the homestead and sundry buildings was very familiar. Not a great change there.

Next was 'Gowan Hill' which was owned  by the Rice family but I'm not sure who owns it now.

After that you come to 'Springfield'. This property I know well as I worked there off and on for the Armstrong family before they sold to CPC (Consolidated Press ) also owners of 'Isis Downs' and half the Isisford district.

That country had changed with lots of clearing which has really opened up the view but I could still remember bits and pieces as I drove. I used to help Mr Armstrong with his cattle work. We had some interesting times trying to yard his cunning shorthorn cows. It didn't seem to matter how much trouble was taken in the preparation prior to getting them to the yards or how many men, women and dogs we assembled......

it was full on drama!!

I remember once we battled for what seemed like hours with cattle turning back, going in every direction, people screaming at the cattle, the dogs and each other.....but eventually in the dark we yarded them.

All retired to the homestead for a couple of stiff rum's before a feed and early to bed of the next day of drafting and the start of the branding.

Mr A was up first and had gone over to the yards while Mrs A and I started breakfast.
 We didn't notice him walk into the kitchen, he was very quite as he just entered and stood there. We both turned round and looked at him and I think we both knew what the look on his face meant.

There was not one single hoof left in the yard.....they had  knocked the side of the yard down during the night and off back to their paddocks they went....probably with little smiles on their faces!!!

The things you remember

Just after the turn off to' Springfield ' you cross the Springfield Creek which is on the boundary between 'Springfield' and 'Thornleigh'.

I worked at Thornleigh as a jillaroo for Mrs Wagstaff the owner of this magnificent property. She had lost her husband in a horse accident some years before. She had 3 girls, at the eldest was a year older than I was and the youngest was still in primary school.

I started work there in May of 1974.

 Thornleigh is 110,000 acres and when I was there it ran around 20,000 merino sheep, and a fair mob of black angus cattle.
 Mrs Wagstaff had a manager who took his orders every day from 'the ol' boss' as she was affectionately referred to.
 I have just worked out  she would have only been 45 that at that time.

 The manager was in charge of a work force of 5 to 6 men commonly called station hands or ringers. I started work there for general shearing which was always done through the month of June.

 Shearing took a month to 6 weeks and was always full on for that time. We were kept busy mustering woolly sheep to the shed and taking away shorn sheep, occasionally we would help with drafting although there were usually 'yard men' employed to do that.
All mustering was done on horse back when I first went there later we used motor bikes but not often.

I spent probably 3 years there off and on and these are days that I still think about often.

Mrs Wagstaff was a hard boss, but she was fair and we got on well...looking back she was very patient with me.
While at my sister's party last week end in Blackall I meet an old friend who worked in the district when I was at Thornleigh, we were reminiscing about the good old days and he said something interesting that I had never thought of.
 He said how he pretty much always made it back to the homestead for lunch, I said we never did.... that we had to cut our lunch after breakfast and wrap it in newspaper, this was carried in our saddle bags and was pretty awful come lunch time on a hot summers day.
I remember I used to take vegemite sandwiches they seemed to come out o.k.
He said with a laugh that was because he worked on a company place where as I worked on a privately owned enterprise.

 Back then company places didn't employ women.

It was very hard to suddenly be thrown into a work force of men who had never worked with a, I was going to say woman but I was really only a girl, they didn't like it one bit and decided right from the word go that I was completely useless and a hindrance. They tryed as hard as they could to get rid of me and when they couldn't they proceeded to make my job as hard as they possibly could.
But of course I am pretty pig headed...... anyway I loved my job.

I think it must be wonderful for the jillaroo's of today as they are recognized as being able to do the job as well as any man and there are even women up north who are head stockwomen and leading hands  in charge of men. Would never have happened in my day.

I drove though Thornleigh on on to Moorlands which in my day was run as a part of Thornleigh but is now a separate property. Mrs Wagstaff passed away in early 2000's and ' Thornleigh ' is now owned by her eldest daughter Wendy and her husband Tom. Her second daughter Lynda and her husband own ' Moorlands'.

Probably the most amazing thing that I noticed on the drive through 'Thornleigh' was the complete lack of sheep. It is now covered in beautiful Droughtmaster cattle.

The next big place was ' Malvern Hills ' again I don't know who owns this but I am fairly sure it is a big company. As I drove past the turn off there were 3 semi trucks with 3 trailers as piece loaded to the hilt with cattle. This place was a merino sheep stud but now is all cattle.

I drove past the '6 mile' which has lots of memories of great party's round a fire on a cold night.
From there I turned off on to the ' Listowel Downs ' road this is not it's official name but can't remember it at the moment.

 My older sister lives 100 kls down this road at ' Listowel Downs '. I was going out to stay with her for a couple of days for a farewell party as they have recently sold another big company. It was again a trip down memory lane as when Tony and I lived at ' Mt Grey ' we used to go to ' Listowel 'often.
Wendy would relieve me of a child or two when ever I went into hospitial to have a baby, so the kids spent time there also.

The party was lots of fun and I managed to catch up with old friends from that part of the world. Country people never change and it is wonderful to think that you can talk to someone you haven't seen for nearly 30 years and pick up where you left off .

And all the reminiscing!!!!!

From there I drove home and it was great as I had been away for a while and was tired after 2 party's and lots of driving......and talking!!

Now I really need to do some painting

That's it for now

Wednesday, 17 April 2013


I have had 10 days away.
Travelling out west attending party's and visiting my father and my son and grandson.
First off I drove to "Stratton" the cattle property where my son and his wife live and run their business.
It was wonderful to see them.
I must admit little grandson Charlie is a treasure, but I mustn't go on about him as my dear (close) friends tell me I'm getting a little boring on that topic......of course they don't have grandchildren as yet!!
He has grown and is a fraction away from walking. He will be 1 on the 2nd of May ...we share a birthday.

Bill took me for a drive around the place and it is still quite dry as they haven't had their normal share of rain this summer.
Going into winter with the poor grass cover is a worry for them.
In these parts we are a summer rainfall part of the world and winter rain is rare.
Sometimes we get the odd bit of winter rain but it usually does more harm than good.

When the rain doesn't come or is not enough then the other probably worse result is what is called a water drought. Graziers can have enough feed for their cattle but water is in short supply.
This seems to be happening right across Queensland's inland. I think there will be a lot of people heading out into the "long" paddock in the next few months, my son included.

Oh, in case your not aware the long paddock is another name for droving your cattle on the side of roads where grass is which sometimes means shifting them a few hundred kilometers by road transport and walk  cattle around the stock route's (sides of the road) until rain has fallen and the grass has grown on the home property and cattle can be taken home, or turned around and walked home which is usually the case.

Back to my trip. From Stratton I went to my sister Grace's cattle property out side Wallambilla south of Roma. It was to celebrate my niece's 21st birthday. We had a great night and a relaxing recovery day the following day.

From there I drove to Augathella where I stayed with my very good friend Lisa and her husband Mark.
 They run a very successful  fat lamb enterprise. They have managed to successfully make the transition from running merino sheep where the main income was from wool, to a dorper type sheep that is a meat producer only, and needs no shearing at all.
 Having lived in that part of the world  and run merino's it is strange to see funny looking black and white sheep covering the beautiful mitchell grass plains.
That night Lisa invited another old friend who lives on the next door property over for dinner and we all had a wonderful catch up. A few little hangovers may have been scattered about the following morning!!

But soldiering on I drove to Longreach the next day. My dad is in the old peoples home there and my 2 sister's and I take turns to visit and spend time with him. He is 83 this year and getting very frail. But he still has one passion/pleasure and that is being taken out side for a smoke.....puts a smile on his face every time.
He loves also to be taken for a drive and his favourite destination is the Thomson River. He likes to sit and look at the river and buff on his durry.

While we were doing this the other day I got to thinking about the connection Dad has with that river.

His Grandfather Angus crossed that river in the early part of the last century on his way from his birth state of Victoria to take up his new job as manager of the Queensland sheep stud of "Strathdarr".

 Later his Grandmother Alice would have crossed that river on her way to Longreach to give birth to his mother.

Still later his mother Alison would have crossed that river to give birth to him and finally his wife Lesley would have crossed that river to give birth to me.

So he has been crossing that river all his life in one form or another.

Dad loves to talk about the old days and has managed to write and publish 3 books about his life and the people he has known. This is quite an achievement as he has lived all his life in Longreach except for a stint of couple a years working on Sheep Studs also in NSW.

His other love is to recite poetry, mainly A.B. Paterson's work. It was sad to leave him.

From Longreach I headed to Listowel Downs at Blackall where my sister Wendy and her family live. They have just sold the property which has been in he husbands family for 60 years.

You can drive straight from Longreach to Blackall via Barcaldine but I decided on the spur of the moment to divert through Isisford. Take a little trip along the Mighty Barcoo River.

This is my second most loved part of the world after Longreach.

I lived for 8 years on a property right next to the small township of Emmet which is 80 ks north west of Isisford and my husband Tony is an Isisford boy having lived all his childhood on  Emmet Downs at Emmet and then at Isis Downs at Isisford. We have a lot of history in that part of Western Queensland.

Isisford hasn't changed much since we lived there in the 80's, in fact it may have gotten smaller. One thing has happened that has made a difference since our time has been the discovery of dinosaur bones by Ian Duncan  a past manager of Isis Downs. This has resulted in the old picture theatre in the main street (where many a 'film' was watched half lying back in a canvas squatter type chair) being replaced by a state- of- the- art Outer Barcoo Interpretive Centre where you can see a replica of the said dinosaur and lots of other information on the area.

I stopped and had a look and a coffee and Isisford being Isisford in no time at all I had been discovered as well after running into my old neighbour  Jocelyn Avery who with her husband Johnny ran the Emment store.
She has always been an amazing women. When I was first married and moved to live at Mt Grey, Jocelyn had 4 small children and drove the school bus every day and worked at the school all day then drove home. She has had many jobs since then including driving the ambulance. I asked her what she was up to now and she informed me she was on the Longreach Shire Council, worked at the medical centre in Isisford and also ran her own shop selling everything you could possibly need but didn't want to go to Longreach to get. She is helped out by her daughter Belinda and the retired  Jimmy Baker well know  jockey.

 She is still an amazing women.

Having spent too much time in Isisford I hit the road to Blackall. This was a very interesting drive as I know that road and the property's along it very well.

But I think that might be another story\



Sunday, 10 March 2013

Land of Drought's and Flooding Rains.

"The sun is out
 the sky is blue
 there's not a cloud
 to spoil the view"

At Last.

We have had soooo much rain.

 I have just about given up measuring it.

BUT ...having lived on the land and run a business where the main ingredient for success is rain, I know not to complain, because rain can stop and then it can take years to start again. I know this because I have seen it happen....often.

 Australia is the driest country on earth, therefore droughts especially in Queensland are some thing we have to learn to deal with.

I remember the first drought I ever experienced. The time was the late 60's and I was about 10. I have a memory of skinny horses and dead sheep.

For thoes who don't know sheep are an animal that spends it's whole life looking for a way to die!!

(A direct quote from my husband.)

I think this is because they never ever have an original thought, they think collectively.

So if one sheep thinks it will walk into a muddy dam for a drink and gets bogged that doesn't mean that any of the others are going to say better not go in there or the same thing will happen to us.... no they all follow and they all get bogged


This brings me back to my first experiences of drought.....pulling out bogged sheep from dams.

Also another rather awful memory was when Dad would want us to " depth a dam" ...see how much water was left so that he would  know how long until the water dryed up and sheep had to be moved to another paddock or sold.

We would have to swim out into the middle of the dam which I might add usually had the odd dead sheep floating about in it. Once in the middle we would have to hold one arm above our heads with fingers pointing to the sky and go down until we touched the bottom. Dad could then judge the depth of water.

I hated this because I would imagine all sort of horrible things lurking on the bottom waiting for a little girls feet!!

I remember the incredible dust storms that would hit Longreach and just black out the sun, also a bit scary when your little.

The next big drought I remember was in 1982/3. We were living and working at " Mt Gray "
 at Emmet south west of Longreach. A property owned at the time by Tony's father Dick McLean.

 We used to breed our own horses back then. We had about 20 brood mares and a stallion. It was a bit of extra income for us as Tony would break in the grown foals and sell them, it also kept us well supplied with work horses. All mustering was done on horse back as most of the country was too rough for motor bikes.
This suited us well as it gave us the opportunity  to work our young breakers.

It is funny how events stick in your mind, you can go through a particularly bad time where lots of awful things happen but years later when you think back usually one thing stands out.

The thing that stands out for me was to do with our horses. The drought just kept on keeping on and there didn't seem to be an end to it. As with all droughts there are decisions to be made and they are usually heart wrenching.

We were forced to make a decision regarding our horses. We couldn't afford to feed them all to keep them alive. There were a few mares that were heavy in foal so we brought them into the house and feed them until they foaled. Any foals not big enough to fend for them self were shoot to save the mother. These are the decisions that are made daily by the custodians of the land and livestock in times of drought.

One of the mares brought back to feed was a beautiful grey mare who had had 2 previous foals, both very good horses, people reading this who knew our horses  will remember " Bungie", he was her last foal.

She managed to have her foal a few days after being brought home, but she was very weak and I could see that she was giving up. The foal was sucking but her milk supply wasn't great.

 At the time I was 8 months pregnant with our first child. Every morning I would go over to the stable to check on the mare. This particular morning she was lying down this is always a bad sign with horses or cattle for that matter. When an animal is weak they will try very hard to stay up right as they know that if they lay down they usually will not have the strength to stand. If you see a sick animal lying down it's a bad sign and you have to try and get it up as quickly as possible.

I put a halter on her so that I could at least help her when she tryed to stand. I managed to get her sitting up with her front legs out in front of her. She gave one enormous effort and caught me by surprise and I wasn't quick enough to help by pulling on the halter lead, being so pregnant probably had something to do with it.

That effort was all she had left and she just lay right down with her head on the ground and try as I might to encourage her to try again, she wouldn't. She had had enough.

She died late that afternoon with her little foal standing over her.

This drought broke the night our son was born. The 18th March 1983. Just as a matter of interest this son of mine will be 30 in a few days time.

Our enormous amount of rain that we have been having all along the coast of Queensland  has not spread inland. There are part in the west that are in the gripes of awful drought where here on the coast in places like Bundaberg whole towns have been washed away.

Drought Baby Bill with his son Charlie on the road with cattle

Going back to that drought baby of mine, he has been droving his cattle on the stock routes round Roma and Surat as they have had a really dry spell at " Stratton" the cattle property where he lives with his wife Kellie and their little son Charlie. They sold these cattle at the Roma sale a couple of weeks ago, but still haven't received enough good rain to see them through the winter.

In this dry old land of ours all you can do is


Until next time.

To view my paintings and drawings click on this link

Thursday, 28 February 2013


Just looked at my Stats and noticed a lot of American interest in  my blog.
This is great ...means I'm getting out there.

I just love the internet!!
It appeals to me on so many levels.

Firstly, I am pretty well obsessed with information and you know back in the day you had to look things up at in books and I was sooo disappointed when I couldn't find the right book or find anything that would quench the current thirst....but now we have the internet and I sometimes find myself getting up in the middle of the night to look something up that I have been thinking about.

Does anyone else do this or is it just me?

Secondly, it is amazing when you are isolated as I am and also can look at art and artist from all over the world. I can see what is happening in every part of the world and how good is that! I love to google stuff...random stuff like " What did Elvis do on his last day on earth "...or  " Or how do I make a really great orange colour and bang there it is AMAZING.

Or I can follow a dog race on the other side of the word....and really feel like I'm involved!!

This is how my new American readers came about...see killed 2 birds with the 1 stone...and learnt something to boot.

At first I couldn't figure out how this had happened....but then I realized that due to my information obsession I had been following the Yukon Quest which is a 1000 mile Dog Sled Race which starts in Whitehorse Yukon Territory Canada and finishers 7 to 9 days later in Fairbanks Alaska.

I had made a few random comments and liked their facebook page which.... OF COURSE... led to people then looking at me.
I feel as though I have made a big step forward with my understanding of how things work.....some may think this is elementary dear Watson...but not for little ol' sometimes slow on the up take me!!

So I welcome my USA readers.

These are some photo's taken by my daughter Lucy who is currently living and working in Whitehorse

 The start in Whitehorse

The dogs are mix of different breeds. But they say that all they really need is a need to RUN!
As you can see they just love it and are very keen to get on the "trail'

 Off they go...notice the bale of hay...this is used for the dogs to sleep on when they pull up for a blow in between check points. The booties are so cute don't you the fact that they are " glow in the dark"

I could go on and on about this race and the people and dogs involved.
I love things that are a little 'left of centre' or where man and beast combine to achieve amazing feats.

Think I am going to have to go see this first hand.

That's it for now