The Snail Trail

Travelling with my home on my back and in no hurry to get anywhere


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Dry as Dust

Augathella, Thargomindah, Eromanga, Yaraka –
I’ve been out in Western Queensland, travelling on and off the tar.
Where everything is dry as dust, both the locals and the land,
They haven’t lost their Aussie humour, but they could do with a hand.

At Isisford and Blackall, Windorah, Quilpie, Tambo
If they can’t keep their stock alive they’ll pack up and they’ll go.
The drought is devastating as it sucks the country dry
And the wind blows off the topsoil, and the wild dogs multiply.

So they’re building dog proof fences to keep wild dogs at bay
And they’re hoping this will keep their stock alive another day.
A farmer told me recently he’d lost seven hundred sheep
And that was just one pack attack, it’s enough to make you weep.

The long paddock is well stocked with beasts grazing the stubbled ground
And stockmen and their horses and their dogs move them around,
I’m not sure where they’re taking them, there’s no relief in sight,
There’ll be many miles to cover before they rest up for the night.

Cunnamulla, Eulo, Toompine and on to Bourke
This drought’s affecting everyone, not only those the land they work.
The little towns are dying, although they’re struggling to the end,
And shops are closing one by one without a local spend.

The “nomads’ keep their hopes alive as they buy their fuel and food
Any dollar spent in town can only do some good
So on your travelling adventure to our outback Aussie land
Spend up in little country towns, it’s a way to lend a hand.

And leave a little something in the RFDS tin
Or other outback charities, it’s a chance for them to win.
Too many farms have closed their gates, they’ve just packed up and gone
Where they’ve farmed for generations is worth nothing but a song.

Longreach, Winton, Isisford, Jericho and Jundah
Aussies need to band together, stop these towns from going under.
So while we all appreciate a cloudless, clear blue sky
Think of the west that needs the rain to put an end to this long dry.

Rosemary Robinson
August 2018


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Photo blogging Day 3 – Water

All my life I have been drawn to the beach. You’ll have heard me saying it’s good for my soul,¬†opens my mind and removes any stress ….

Lucky Bay

Pristine beach and clear water at Lucky Bay, Western Australia

14 Mile Beach

14 Mile Beach, Western Australia

Then I travelled inland and discovered the cool serenity of lush pools like here at Millstream Chichester National Park in Western Australia.

Millstream Lily Pond

Millstream Lily Pond, Western Australia

Millstream Chichester National Park, Western Australia

Millstream Lily Pond

And the famous water trough at Derby

Derby, Western Australia

Myall’s Cattle Trough, Derby, Western Australia

And the devastation when the water dries up …..

Dry river bed, Broken Hill, New South Wales

Dry river bed, Broken Hill, New South Wales

Drought at McKinley, Queensland

Drought at McKinley, Queensland

Water, not only necessary for the soul …..necessary for life.


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Red Dust

Drought cattleCattle dying by the roadside, skin falling from their bones
In the drought struck red dust country of the west
Crows fighting wedge-tailed eagles for their share of roadside kill
As they compete in nature’s cruel survival test.

No water in the dams or creeks, there’s been no rain for months, not weeks,
Cattle forage where no blade of grass is found
Behind fences and roadside, amongst livestock that have died
On the dry and barren western red dust ground.

Hills hover in the heat haze disconnected from the land
Trees dance above the soil from which they grow
Red hills rise on the horizon, ancient relics of the past
As they push from out the dry red earth below.

No clouds. No rain. Wind blows the dust through every vein.
There’s no relief from scorching heat and clear blue skies.
Ringers check the bores and cattle in this never ending battle
And farmers watch and cry as all around them dies.

When Dorothea Mackellar wrote of ‘drought and flooding rain’
Did she ever see the west in a long dry?
Did she see the dust bowl waterholes, the rivers and the creeks?
Did she feel the heartache watching cattle die?

Yet there’s beauty in the landscape even when it’s dry as dust
Ancient mesas rising where there once was inland sea
And the bones within the earth have witnessed changes since the birth
Of Australia, and this dry, harsh, red dust country.


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McKinlay – Drought, Dust and Crocodile Dundee

McKinlay is a small town south of Cloncurry, probably most famous outside the local area for the Walkabout Creek Hotel, which featured in the movie Crocodile Dundee. We stopped opposite it on the way to visit a couple of the local stations that Bev had tee’d up for us, and then called in for a cold drink on our way back to Mt Isa.

Bev

There was a busload of oldies in the pub when we went in and a little bit of Crocodile Dundee memorabilia but I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t have at least a BIG knife so that we could have at least said “Now, that’s a knife!”

Walkabout Creek Hotel 2

The first station we visited was Answer Downs where Julie welcomed us with a cuppa and then took us off to see the calves they had penned so they could feed them. The drought is truly devastating out here and the calves would not survive, nor would the cows, if they were fed as nature intended.

Cattleyard 2

It’s interesting what you learn about when you are out here. For instance, although I knew cows had 4 stomachs I didn’t know that calves only used stomachs 3 and 4 until they are¬† weaned and stomachs 1 and 2 kick in and they can find a feed and digest food without their mum. These calves are being fed until they get to the stage where they can forage for themselves.

From Answer Downs we went to another station called Colwell. Luke, the manager, lent us the 4 wheel drive farm ute so we could get out to the old shearing shed and this trip really shows the heartbreak of the drought.

Stock 3 Stock 1The shearing shed hasn’t been used for many years as the livestock out here now is cattle and not sheep.

Shearing Shed at Colwell StationThere was also a little cemetery there where previous owners and their families are buried.

Cemetry at Colwell Station?It is truly heartbreaking to see the country so dry and the cattle with their skin hanging off their bones and it must be devastating for the station owners.

They talk about the tyranny of distance – well this is one method of transport that brings those places closer together. This photo was taken at Colwell Station.

Colwell Station transportWe left Colwell Station and travelled back through McKinlay to Cloncurry and Mt Isa – probably a round trip of about 500 or 600 kms.

McKinlay is only a small town, population of 20 people. John McKinlay discovered the area 150 years ago when he was searching for the ill-fated expedition of Burke and Wills, and the town was established in the 1900’s when a bore was sunk on the edge of the town to provide a permanent water supply. It was a Cobb & Co staging post.

It’s claim to fame today, apart from the Walkabout Creek Hotel, is that it is home to the smallest public library in Queensland.

Smallest Queensland LibraryAnother wonderful experience from my time in Mt Isa.