After spending a few days at our first farm stay for this trip at “Ups n Downs” in Roma, the kids had fallen in love with ‘Bently’ the pig and did not want to leave, but we convinced them we were off to new adventures.
Bently & Henry
Our next stop was ‘West Leinster’, a large cattle station over 82,000 acres which is bigger than some small country towns.
The drive out there was an experience in itself. Located somewhere between Mitchell and Charleville on the road out west, we had to access it via a little town we had never heard of before, Mungallala, a town consisting of the post office and the pub, which also has a small caravan park at the rear.
From Mungallala we turned west for 60km of roads into unknown territory. 12km in, the bitumen stopped and we were greeted by a bright red roadway covered in fine dust. 10km down the further, the isolation started to hit home to us. What we take for granted in the cities and major towns did not exist out here. Neighbors were sparse, and it was kilometers between letterboxes. To drive down flat bitumen roads is also non-existent in these parts, although the roads were not too bad, there are at the mercy of the weather and often rutted and rough.
The road out was rough & dusty.
But still, the vibrations kept us all alert. Not one car passed us on the way out, but a couple of Emu’s did out-run us, sprinting up alongside the bus for a few hundred meters. Dead Roo’s lined the road every few hundred meters and the kids were asking 101 questions about how anyone could hit a Roo and leave it by the side of the road, it was at this point that a mob of well over 100 Roo’s came bounding out of the bush and surrounded us, hopping at top speed. Question answered!
It was certainly a sight. The trip was slower than we anticipated as we did not expect to see such varied wildlife and nature on the way out. This also included several stumpy tailed Lizard’s meandering slowly across the track.
The beauty of the landscape was striking, especially a patch of purple wildflowers contrasting the red soil on the side of the road. Jade insisted we stop so she could roll around in the green and purple patch and pick some flowers.
The purple flowers were irresistible, had to stop and pick a few.
An hour and a half later, we found ourselves entering the property and continuing a further 5km down the driveway to the lone homestead. It was a typical farm setting with the main house, outbuildings and machinery sheds.
We were greeted by our hosts Dolly & Dave, who are the new generation of farmers in these parts. Both only in their 20’s & 30’s respectively, they have owned the property for the last 6 years and having a good go at farming in this harsh country.
Dave & Doll
Dave said they had been fortunate in these parts, as they did have some recent rain, but still had to keep abreast of things, especially on 82,000 acres with over 1000 head of cattle, and hundreds of kilometers of fences to maintain.
After a very warm welcome, we parked up the motorhome and headed off for the afternoon chores.
Parked at West Leinster
The kids were instantly befriended by Doggie, the miniature farm dog who did not leave their side for the rest of the afternoon, except for when he speared down some rabbit holes in search of bunnies. Henry, was quick to follow, trying to get his head into some of the holes also to give Doggie a hand.
Doggie and the kids. Hunting for Rabbits
Our first chore was to distribute the Lick. What is ‘Lick’? That is what we all asked. Lick in it simplest terms is a nutrient supplement for the cattle. It has to be distributed around the farm and put in barrels for them to – lick, hence the name.
Driving over 15km in the back of the Ute, just to get to the first Lick trough was a tonne of fun, as was watching a large herd of cows come running up for their treat.
We continued our tour of the property and an explanation of how it all worked and the constant improvements and maintenance that was required to keep the property operational. Clearing paddocks for more area to grow grass for cows was a major task, undertaken by massive dozers dragging an 18 tonne chain. Dolly has learnt how to drive one of these massive machines and gets in to help Dave clear paddocks.
Clearing is done with a massive D9 and 18 tonne chain.
By late afternoon, we returned to the main house where the working dogs, all 11 of them were let out for a run, fed and watered. The kids were amazed at how obedient the dogs were, and astounded that these dogs were actually able to round up cattle.
Letting the working dogs out for a run.
We were then spoilt by our hosts to a campfire under the stars and a true home cooked meal with baked vegies.
The following day saw us further exploring the farm. We helped Dolly by distributing more lick and checking all the watering holes, which took a fair while considering it was kilometers between feed troughs and dams. There were a few repairs to do along the way, which Dolly was very capable of. Dave meanwhile played mechanic and fixed one of the Dozers after the parts arrived in the mail that day. Another thing we took for granted. Out here, you cannot just drive to town and get spare parts, they have to be ordered and in some cases can take over a week to arrive.
Dolly repairs the pump
Spending a few days on a cattle station this size gave us a true appreciation for what our farmers actually go through. The work is constant, and with the relentless drought, conditions can be tough. There is also the isolation, Doll explained it is nice to have visitors from time to time, even if it just for company distributing Lick or checking waterholes, which she often does alone. Dave told us that the longest he had gone without seeing another person on one occasion was 6 weeks, but, they do have great neighbours, all be it, over 15km away, and they try to get together regularly.
Before we arrived, we were wondering what we would do to help and if it made much of a difference, but it appeared as though it did. We are not sure who gained more out of the experience, but we can highly recommend to anyone who is travelling to jump onto our Help Out section and head out to some of these remote locations and help someone out. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we can guarantee you will find the experience very rewarding.
To find out more about how to Help Out someone in need, head on over to our Help Out section where you will find a selection of listings for people that need help all over Australia.