I’ve been everywhere man!
Because of the prolonged drought at Webimble, we have been forced to send large numbers of our cattle north for agistment. This is the first time we have had to do this in 25 years.
Last Sunday we set off early to check them, with one of our offsiders, Dave, following in the ute.
It was a long long straight drive, past towns with names that made you want to sing the song, I’ve been everywhere (Lucky Starr 1962!)…past Breza, Boggabri, Baan Baa, and Bellata then on to Moree and Mungindi. From Breza onward, it is clear that the crops have changed. Once on this road you would find sunflowers springing up, growing wild on the verges but now the edges are littered with puffs of cotton seed all the way to the Queensland border. It is like a Hansel and Gretel trail.
Last year when we drove north, we were wide eyed at the trail of trucks hauling wheat and queuing at the silos. Now there are paddocks of cotton stretching as far as you can see and tractors securing the large bales. Along the road are the walls of huge dams that hold the water needed for the irrigation.
The long straight roads lead to the border and crossing into Queensland, the signs endlessly repeat that ‘This Road is subject to flooding.’ What’s that we wonder? Flooding? Not in our neck of the woods. All the other signs remind you to stop. Rest or RIP they keep saying.
A full apricot moon tracks us as night falls and at dusk we are halted abruptly by a mob of emus tottering across the road. We dodge yet another lump of road kill on the side of the road and we are pleased to reach Roma before driving becomes more dangerous.
The next day we drive to the property where we have 450 head agisted and we spend all morning marking and drenching them as the dust swirls around us. They too need rain. The crush is too large for our calves so Dave spends a lot of time inside turning them around or persuading them not to poke their heads through.
We drive around the property afterwards and we are astounded at the landscape which is foreign to us. It is flat earth here, no hills, no rocks and no mountains. Just endless rows of straight GPS lines and early crop planting.
Next day back over the border at Goondiwindi, then Bogabilla, Inverell , Guyra then onto the lush green Dorrigo Plateau. Our cattle here are looking good; fat with shining black coats. They have grass up to their knees and they will never want to come home.
We leave them and head for Armidale, following a FB post from Sophie Masson about a French patisserie , which we track down thanks to Google. The baguettes and soup are delicious and we leave with a parcel of tasty treats…frangipani tarts and a few croissants. The confit of duck was sadly not on the menu that week.
We descend from the Tablelands and head home. It is comforting to see the hills touched by the setting sun and the misty layers of mauve and pale blue as they stretch into the distance.
2,200 kilometres later, we greet the dog and the chickens who seem happy to see us and untangle a calf who has his legs stuck in the fence cabling.
In the morning it will be the same routine; feeding pellets and hay to the calves and checking on the cows and of course the water. They manage to knock off a float or empty a tank with no trouble at all.
But it is good to be home despite the dry.