Working cattle from the air is an essential part of cattle production these days.
On a vast property like Anna Creek Station in South Australia’s far north, using an aircraft to spot cattle spread out over big distances saves time, money and the efforts of the stockmen on the ground.
It is a fallacy the Australian Outback is a vast, flat featureless plain.
Granted, at times the gems may seem far apart but in reality it is an ever-changing landscape of colour…almost chameleon like.
Take for instance the Margaret Range, about 70 kilometres south of Oodnadatta on the Oodnadatta Track not long after a brief shower of rain and a cloudy sky.
A small addendum to the previous post on the Peake Telegraph station.
There are four graves at this lonely outpost, although I am not sure they were the only casualties.
Two of the graves are unmarked, the two others are dated 1887 and 1900 and are well preserved although neither refer to the cause of death.
I took a few shots of the graves when I was there but this one, to my mind symbolises the remoteness the best.
140 years ago this building must have seemed like an outstation on the moon.
Even today it takes a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get the last few kilometres to it. Back then the trip would have been of astronomical proportions.
This is the Peake Telegraph station, constructed as part of a commutations network that crossed the Australian continent from north to south.
The Peake is an outstation on Anna Creek Station, the world’s largest cattle property run by the S. Kidman Company.
I did the photography for a story on Anna Creek for the R.M. Williams Outback magazine back in March this year.
The telegraph station is on this section of the property. It’s just south of Oodnadatta on the Ooodnadatta Track.
Two things stand out about this old telegraph station. The first – how substantial the buildings are. The second – the beauty of the surround landscape.
It was one of 12 repeater stations between Adelaide and Darwin and its completion brought Australia closer into contact with London via telegrams when news could arrive in around 24 hours instead of months.
Getting back to my point about an expedition to the moon….back in 1872 or thereabouts when the telegraph line opened between Adelaide and Darwin this was remote in the extreme. To get here people had to cover some of the most rugged and dangerous country in the world and be completely self sufficient at the same time.
36,000 poles and 3,200 kilometres of wire were used to link the two cities at a time when explorers had only just before passed through or died only a few years before.
A project of epic proportions.
These photos need no explanation……same part of the world…different journeys.
Forget Texas…everything out here is bigger…bigger cattles stations, bigger sand dunes, more flies.
This sand dune on Anna Creek Station in the far north of South Australia is massive…well over 30 metres (100 feet) high.
It’s so big that without something in the foreground it would be hard to even guess just how large it is, and this only a small portion of the dune.
Anna Creek station is the largest cattle station in the world, four times larger than the biggest in Texas and about the size of Israel. Sand dunes make up a good portion of the country.
The dune has been shaped by the wind as can be seen on the windward edge.
The sand is so fine and the sides so steep that progress is one pace forward and two back on all but the shallowest of climbs.
Despite the apparent harshness of the landscape, all the rains of recent times have put much life into the shifting sands, perfectly typified by this thriving plant with its single golden flower pointed directly at the autumn sun.
Try this in the city and get caught by the cops. They’d throw the book at you.
Outback where the bike is an everyday work tool, you can pull a stunt like this and even have a crowd clapping for you.
The recent William Creek Gymkhana and a competition to see who could make the longest mono, and with four police officers looking on too.
The winner went about half way round the horse racing track.
With the smokey grey sky and the leafless bushes, it would not be hard to imagine this was the aftermath of a bush fire.
It’s just scrub country up the Oodnadatta Track after sunset.
I’m not sure where…some distance north of William Creek I think.
It was just something that caught my eye because it was a bit unusual.
Sunsets though are a dime a dozen out here.
Hand held at 1/25th sec, f5.6 ISO 400
This old wheel barrow reminded me of a story told to me by Keith Nicholls, an old chap who lived almost all his life running a sheep station at Warraweena near Beltana in the Flinders Ranges.
Keith was 86 when he died but he remembered as a young lad a bloke who lived in the area who was out of work.
The chap heard there was work going at Broken Hill, more than 300 kilometres away as the crow flies and over some pretty inhospitable country.
As old Keith told the story, the bloke set off with his worldly belongings in a wheel barrow, only to find when he got to Broken Hill there wasn’t any work there, so he turned around and came home.
There’s not too many people who could do that today – we’ve all grown a bit soft.
I believe this wheel barrow was a bit younger than the one in Keith’s story. It looked like it might have had a rubber wheel in its heyday, but I suspect it too had a pretty hard life.
Faces of the Outback…blokes from stations around William Creek and the Oodnadatta Track……doing what people do everywhere….having a bit of chin wag.
With big distances between isolated stations, an event like the local gymkhana brings people together for some horse events and a beer or two.