Cashbook and Claypan
Birdsville or Bust
East From Oodna
Alive in the Dead Heart
B-line for Birdsville
Fat Cattle Country
Grazing on Dried Herbage
Patrolling the Waterwell at Kamaran Downs
In order to sustain these early enterprises, hundreds of bores were sunk along the back country stock routes by governments eager to foster pastoral endeavours in their regions. There was nothing in it for these governments in sinking the wells except perhaps license fees, for in those days no taxation was paid by people living off the land.
Permanent Water at Dalhousie Springs
The reliability of their water supply determined the farmers' chances of success or failure. There were only two permanent waterholes in over a 692,000 hectare spread of country, so they were heavily dependent upon the government bores. On the western side of the desert lay the magnificent permanent waters of Dalhousie Springs, by the Finke floodplain. The other was at Kaliduwarry above Annandale ruins on the Eyre Creek to the east of the desert. Not much of a prospect to keep dozens of businesses and hundreds of thousands of head of stock going!
Eyre Creek Near Old Alton Downs
Considering the bulldozers were only twenty miles ahead of the CGG campsite, I had a long drive after that point was reached guided only by the sight of the surveyors' wispy strips of yellow or red plastic tape they positioned periodically, knee-high and attached to whatever they could find, like a gidgee stem or a clump of spinifex. Thus did they mark the way forward for the French Line.
Stockyarding Cattle at Kamaran Downs
That trip I overnighted with Jack and before I set off back along the Creek to find my lifesaving row of surveyors' plastic markers, he offered me a full breakfast of steak. This was a repeat dose of what we'd had for dinner the night before and it was too much for me but I made the mistake of asking Jack if he had any cornflakes. This met with a howl of derision. There were two things on a menu most despised by Jack - one item was offal and the other, he roared scornfully, was 'dried herbage'. He likened city breakfast foods to the staple diet of his cattle herd and learning my lesson, I've used the deprecating term ever since myself.
First Fence East, Out of the Simpson
On another occasion I took the sensible shortcut, old Alton Downs through Karrathunka Waterhole, which bypassed Pandie as well on the way to Birdsville. As it happened, new Alton Downs at Andrewilla was washed away in the 1974 floods and I haven't seen its new location. CGG personnel were to spend a lot of time on stations such as Glengyle, Sandringham, Kamaran Downs, Monkira and the deserted Dubbo Downs and Annandale ruins in the months to come and struck up quite an amicable social discourse with the proprietors and staff of the occupied stations in leisure moments.
The Annandale Cattle Station Ruins - 1963
The Birdsville Track and the Channel Country of Queensland are regions that have seen more than enough tragic perishes. There is stark evidence of many economic disasters as well. Annandale and then Dubbo Downs and now possibly Kamaran Downs, have become outstations of another cattle station, in this event in favour of Glengyle.
Sidney Kidman's Tree of Knowledge at Glengyle
Glengyle is listed on the National Trust and if Sir Sidney got his inspiration to plan his strategies while camping beneath that very tree, I thought it was good enough for me to shelter under it too and I took it as a bonus that others recognised the worth of his acquisitions in such a public way. This planning of his led to the ownership of a chain of cattle stations from South Australia to the Gulf of Carpentaria that is without parallel. Today, many of his original purchases remain in the Kidman family empire.
The Bedourie Cricket Team - 1964
I whipped out some photos of the two teams that were taken outside Bedourie's Royal Hotel in 1964 and sure enough, my informant spotted himself amidst the Bedourie side. Amongst that cricket team were some local names to conjure with; Jack Gaffney was captain and there was a 'B. Condon' (a relative of Joe Condon the Bedourie publican?) Norm Portch the Birdsville publican played, plus Bill Ritchie, a Crombie, a McIntyre and John Hardingham, the local BP agent.
||Try the "with Malice a'Forecourt?" link and read what they did|
|Alive in the
||Thommo's Desert Report||The BeeGees Page|
|Coles Express Picks On a Pensioner||The Kid From Towra Point|
|Bulldozing a Desert||Trans National Causeway|
|Signwriter for the Simpson||The Long Haul|
|Simpson Desert Birdlife||French Line Circa 1979|
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