We’re off on another trip, heading west – chasing big sky country and red dirt. Our first stop was catching up with Trinity’s friend Julie, on her 70,000 acre property south of Mitchell, QLD. Her family run 3,500 merino sheep and 150 head of cattle on mulga country. Trinity and Julie have been best mates since they met back in Vet School, and any excuse to make the 8-hour drive out for a visit is a welcome one.
Dealing with the drought
Life out there is tough right now. They’ve been dealing with drought for years. Julie told us they’ve only had a couple inches of rain all year, with nothing since May. Summer is traditionally their wet season, but the last summer brought little reprieve. The ground is bare. Stock rely on regular supplement feeding and Julie’s family cutting mulga for them to eat. It’s hard work with a lot of mouths to feed. Bags of feed are around 20kg each, and they need to do roughly 5 one-hour runs of scrub cutting each week. There’s also the odd orphan lamb who requires round-the-clock bottle feeding.
Old school or new – which is best?
Before we headed out James and Julie were each talking up how quickly they could sharpen a chainsaw. With years of scrub cutting and experience using a hand file, Julie was confident she had this one in the bag. However, James had a nifty gadget he was pretty keen to put to the test – a bench top unit that was guaranteed to get the angles on the teeth just right. To test whether new tech would trump a bit of old school technique, the two went head to head in a “sharpen off”. Unfortunately for James, Julie’s experience won out, and she had her chainsaw sharp and ready to go before James even had his unit set up! All said and done, both agreed that the fancy gadget would come into its own for correcting angles and getting a bit more life from older chains.
Teaching an old dog new tricks
Having headed out to Julie’s property a number of times over the years, Trinity has witnessed the working dogs grow from young pups to elderly, retired dogs. They all love what they do – riding around on the ute or bike, jumping in on the action when required, or offering up some enthusiastic barks if their ageing bodies didn’t allow them to do more. Our dog wasn’t really sure what to make of it all!
The dogs aren’t the only ones making use of their skills this week. Trinity and Julie both packed up and headed off for a full day workshop on a neighbouring property, ultrasounding ewes (female sheep) for pregnancy testing. While it might be a while since Trinity needed to use her vet skills in her day job, she’s still registered and loves learning new things. The workshop was a great experience, providing plenty of opportunities for some hands-on learning.
Our home among the mulga trees
The best part of camping at a mate’s place is not having to share your campsite with anyone else. We camped by a dam about half a kilometre from the main house, far enough away for a little privacy (and peace and quiet from all the dogs!), but close enough to share dinner with the family each night. Our Ultimate camper was in its element driving out. The suspension rode out the wash outs and bulldust holes with as much ease as our Patrol. Spots like this are worth the effort they require to get there.
With no set itinerary we’ve already moved on to our next campsite for this outback adventure. If you’re keen to see where we travel make sure you subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.