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\