We left Farewell station, stayed in Winton for one day, and had in mind going somewhere, on our way to Brisbane (to catch our flight to New Zealand on the 4th of June). There was not much plan, when we decided that we wanted to see another station. That was maybe our last chance to get to be in Australia with some time ahead for a station experience. So we went on www.helpX.net, and found a nice family where we could stay and do a bit of cattle work. They accepted our request, so we had to get to Duaringa (west of Rockhampton) the following day. Easy! There is this Spirit of the Outback train leaving from Longreach (the next town, 150km) in the morning. With the connecting shuttle bus from Winton early morning, it sounds perfect! Everything sounded perfect until the booking time… we could not book the shuttle bus! After a short investigation, we heard that it was sold out! Crazy, a small town like Winton has the shuttle fully booked! Well, we need a plan B… it was already 2pm, the daily bus to Longreach left 1hour earlier, and the train goes only twice a week… we need to catch that train! The only solution: hitch-hiking!
We started hitch-hiking at 3pm on Sunday…
And kept hitch-hiking on Monday morning at 6am…
At 7:30am, I gave up, sat down and made myself a jam sandwich for breakfast. When a couple stopped with their SUV and caravan… great! I swallowed my sandwich quickly and we jumped in their car. That was just on time that we could book the train on the way with an on-and-off mobile network and that we went in the train 10 minutes before departure!
12,5 hours later, we arrived in Duaringa, where John picked us up. We drove about an hour south to reach the property of John and Alicia and their 2 daughters. They live in the middle of their property, full of trees and with plenty of green grass! This does change a lot for our eyes after the dry outback. There is a creek just behind the house (Mimosa creek), where they pump the water from. (a few meters under the sand there is water to pump).
We went out mustering with John on another property near Duaringa. The landscape is hilly and green! What a difference! Mustering was easier than what we knew, we parked the car along the fence and watched the helicopter mustering. When all the cattle was in the laneway, we pushed them to the yards.
Watching the helicopter mustering
Drafting the cattle to be sold at sunset
At the yards, dust and sunset…
Alex drafting in the round yard
We were introduced to new practices… the first one being no yelling nor swearing in the yards. Another one was spaying. John chose in his heifers the ones to spay or the one to keep for breeding. Then we pushed the one to spay to a crush, were they were spayed: a person who has been trained for that is then employed, to actually remove the ovaries of the selected heifers. He basically had both his arms inside the cow to do his job… And sometimes he told us that “oh, this one is in calf already!” , well, no spaying for her that day!
Trying to push the heifers to the race (they probably knew what was happening to them and didn’t want to go there!)
We also had a demonstration of the Brahman cows… they look a little funny with their long ears. John told us that when a Brahman does not want to do anything, she just sits and wait. We were a bit surprised and laughed. But it was true! One sat down 3 times in the race and in the crush. That was pretty hard to make her stand again! Even a crowbar under her belly was not enough to keep her standing!
We also spend some time at home, with Alicia and the girls. We did play-doh, magic sand, coloring and stickers books… and I am not sure who had more fun… the girls or us!
With my little play-doh Kangaroo mum with her Joey
We stayed about 10 days at the farm, and took the same train, at night and arrived in Brisbane the following day around noon. We spend 2 days with Karen and her family, where Alex stayed 4 years ago for a while. We moved to the city center for our last 3 days in Australia, we caught up with our pictures sorting and publishing and with our administrative documents to enter New Zealand on Thursday! (well, hopefully everything goes well and our paperwork is alright!)
Back to the city life…
You can see all the pictures, as usual, in the Photo of my trips link on the right of my blog page!
See you next time in New Zealand!