After our stay at Charleville, we headed further north to Longreach. We had been warned as we left Charleville to expect the conditions up that way to be worse as far as the effects of the drought went. We could not imagine how, but soon reaslised what they meant. The country side was barren, with barely a blade of grass to be seen in the paddocks. Dead Kangaroos lined the roadway, in some stretches, too many to count.
The harsh barren countryside
We arrived at our destination which was a 37,000 acre property north of Longreach. John & Heather where our hosts and they have owned the property for the last 8 years. We were met and welcomed with a cuppa and soon set up camp near the main homestead.
We set up camp @ ‘Kanandah’
After setting up, John & Heather gave us a tour of the property, which although barren, still had a natural beauty and serenity about it.
They didn’t have to say too much about the effects of the drought in these parts, it was clearly visible. All that remained was dirt, and the stubble of what used to be grass. To add to this, what remains of the stubble is shared amongst the hundreds of kangaroos as animals compete to survive on this barren landscape.
All that remains of the grass
It is definitely one of the worst drought effected properties we have seen to date. The drought causing them to reduce their stock from about 2000 head of cattle down to the last 280 head. However, both John and Heather had an upbeat approach and like everyone in the area, they look forward to the rain to relieve the situation.
We spent our days exploring the many facets of farm life out here and trying to help out in whatever way we could. We would head out in the cool of the afternoon to help clean up some old fencing that has been laying around in the paddocks for years. The kids relishing the chance to ride in the back of the ute and both chipped in to give a hand. John tells us there have been some advantages to the drought, that being you can see what needs to be fixed, like the wire lying around that was previously unseen in the long grass. Picking it up now meant less chance of the cattle being tangled in it come muster time. It also gave them a chance to clean out previously silted dams as they were now empty.
Cleaning up old wire fencing
The mornings saw us out on feed drops and checking water levels. They are fortunate enough to have a few deeper dams on the property with water still in them. There is also a shared bore water source on some parts of the property which at least maintains water holes for the cattle, unfortunately you cannot irrigate with this water.
The dam with very little remaining water.
This has meant that they have to hand feed the remaining cattle, which with the current cost of Hay and molasses is a costly exercise. It left us wondering how long they could keep this up.
Our morning hay drop as we hand feed the remaining cattle.
Whilst the help we provided was only quite small in terms of what they do on a daily basis, it appeared to go long way. Our hosts were grateful for our attendance and assistance. Their attitude impresses us the most, instead of drawing on the negativity of the drought and current hardships, they highlighted the simple things they gained pleasure from. From the stunning sunsets over the barren land, to the newly born calves prancing around the property oblivious to the lack of food.
Stunning Sunsets & Newborn Calves
This was indeed another worthwhile experience for us, greatly enhancing our journey around Australia, and offering us a greater appreciation of how harsh, yet enjoyable life on the land can be. It was refreshing to wake up each morning to the freedom and space of the land, and know we were going to experience something different for the day.
If you are travelling around Australia, and looking for new experiences, or different places to stay, we would urge you to find a farmer or anyone who is in need of assistance and swap a bit of your time for a place to stay.
We currently have over 60 listings in the directory where people around the country are in need of a helping hand. You can find them all via the link below