Sunday, January 27, 2008

Beginning the N.T. Story


Bessie Springs next door a few ks down the road, out water came from another spring not as large off the Escarpment from the "Lost City" spring water. My son, James and husband in the foreground

The owners of Lakefield went into a freefall for a time and the property was taken over by the New York banks that appointed an Australian representative to overseer their Australian pastoral interests. I had married and had a son, James Anthony born at the Cairns Hospital and became quite weak afterwards, had lost a lot of weight with being ill throughout the pregnancyAnd for that and various reasons departed from the employ of Tipperary Land Corporation and Lakefield Station.
Took up a position at the new Gympie saleyards for about six months, unloading the cattle from the trains and have fond, not, memories of opening the doors of the K wagons in my nightie. I had brought my Arabian stallion, Bayard with me and one of my own personal mares, Ginger Meggs and her foal.


My husband at that time obtained a position on a cattle property in the Northern Territory on the e edge of the Barkly Tablelands. I had a beautiful Fiat vehicle kindly sold to me by a kind doctor who lived in Gympie and for whom I did the occasional “horse” job, a lovely machine, and set off from Gympie in this little car with, Krishna, Hound of the Baskerville’s, my young son, and the ubiquitous husband. I left my horses in the care of lovely people in the beautiful Mary Valley. The position was on a property on the Macarthur River working for an Agricultural consultancy company from Sydney who were representing the interests of English owners of half the property the other half of the property belonging to Laurie Morgan. Laurie was a tall handsome man who had become famous for his exploits at the Rome Olympics of 1960 being captain of the Australian Olympic Team and the individual gold medal winner in the equestrian events, being the first Australian to ever have won a gold medal at equestrian sports at the Olympics ever. Laurie Morgan had been a representative AFL football player, Fitzroy, boxer rower at elite levels, an interesting man.

Headed off from the coastal town to Longreach, Mt. Isa Camooweal and then the beautiful territory roads. At the border the road was immediately better and wider. The Americans had originally constructed the road during the war and those fellows sure knew how to make a road. Some of the older folk told of the Americans flying in all their road making equipment and moving along like a great conga line with a road spewing out the back of the line. Evidence of their road making efforts were still in evidence with the drums used for the tar in huge stacks a little way from the sides of the road. There were no speed restrictions on these magnificent straight smooth roads until quite recently. The beef development road was already completed forming a right angle from the Camooweal Tennant Creek Road to Borroloola, with it branching off to Daly Waters at Balbirini Station where we were destined. Called the beef development road but rumour had it was partially paid for by Mount Isa Mines who at this time had exploration teams in the Macarthur river valley? It was well known that huge deposits of profitable mineral wealth existed in the area.

I had not been in the Territory beforehand and was amazed at the beautiful cattle and the superior black soil plains to the north of the road and the desert to the south. Driving across Avon with the lovely white faced Herefords, continuing on through Brunette owned by the Americans, King Ranch with the shiny Santa Gertrudis cattle, all originating from the genetic giant of a bull “Mickey” bred in Texas in the us of a.. I do not know if King Ranch put their top stock on the road but had not seen the size and quality of cattle in the Peninsula and came to realize that the Peninsula was poor cattle country comparatively. These sleek cattle reared on the Mitchell, Flinders grassed black soil plains of the Barkly Tablelands were impressive. From the open plains the country became treed with mostly Bauhinias, which usually is an indication of good country. My father after managing cattle stations for the younger portion of his life in later years was employed by the Government to Value the rural land of north Queensland and the Brigalow country of central Queensland where he maintained was the best producing cattle country in Australia, not the wilds of the far north the romantic Kimberley and wild west territory but central Queensland as the cattle numbers produced in this area bore out that fact at least in those days. I do remember accompanying him on some of his bush trips and him talking of the relative merits of country and the indicators of it. Bauhinia trees, Currajong Brigalow etc.
The homestead at Balbirini was quite basic with mosquito netting enclosing the veranda, a diesel generator and an bank of 32 volt batteries for use when the generator was switched off. I was absolutely amazed that the homestead was built in a gully, which was an Anna branch of the Macarthur River. A huge levee bank had been dozed around the sides of the homestead. That should have given me an inkling of what was to come. A new complex of tin and masonite construction was the men’s quarters and new machinery shed within the levee complex and a camp on the other side of the river. Perhaps I had been transported back to the 1940’s. Spinifex grass was on the hill facing the homestead and at the back were the magnificent red bluffs of the Macarthur River rising very high to what is called the lost city where tourists take a helicopter ride these days. A truly magnificent impressive landscape that fired the imagination with the fiery oranges and reds with the morning bluffs purple and quiet and mysterious. My regret for my time here and on Lakefield I did not own a camera but borrowed and shot a few rolls only of film at both locations. I must go back to the Macarthur region and take some photographs of this magnificent majestic country. Country that lives in your heart visually awesome harsh and beautiful The absolute best aspect of that homestead was the spring water piped from high on the red bluffs from the most pure spring water one would ever hope to drink. The pressure was magnificent due to the height of the spring.
The horse paddock was twenty thousand acres and the plant horses had gone feral. These animals were the most magnificent herd of horses anyone would want to see. Laurie Morgan had let ten thoroughbred mares and a lovely thoroughbred stallion into this domain ten years previous and so the colts had all gone with the brumbies and what brumbies they were. I guess Laurie Morgan’s had had some of the best performance horses in the world at the time with his most famous being Salad Days and Gold Ross. He told me he had left one or both of these animals with the stables of Prince Phillip. The other investors in the property were a collection of the Sloan rangers of London. and their cohorts, an interesting mix and a change from the Texas Oil Millionaires and the Jewish New York Bankers to the ra ra boys of jolly old England and the interesting Laurie Morgan the boy from Victoria……contd

10 Comments:

Blogger lil harry said...

Wow..what an interesting life..You certainly have seen some beautiful country and met some great people along the way..and still more to come!!! can't wait.
do you still have horses??

January 27, 2008 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger whiteangel said...

Hello Elizabeth,
You certainly have a wonderful memory of the things you have seen and done plus the people.
That photo of a bride I presume is you - you look beautiful :)
I do enjoy reading about what you have done in your life.
Looking forward to reading more.
Take care,
Margaret

January 27, 2008 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Rudy's Blog said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Your ability to draw such beautiful 'word pictures' never ceases to amaze me. I look forward to reading your first book....or have you already written one and not told us about it?

Like Lil Harry and Margaret, I look forward to the next episode.

Cheers

Rudy

January 28, 2008 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

Afternoon lil harry,
Thanks I have.. but the old story "a rolling stone gathers no moss" as in life with the plusses the minuses are waiting to balance out...When I am at a low and reflect I regret leaving certain areas and not associating with the people I knew and loved, moving you do lose touch...my biggest rue but I do believe in balance in everything. Yes I do still have horses. Kind regards, Elizabeth

January 28, 2008 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2008 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

Hi Rudy,
Thank you Rudy. I was in a quandry about some of the following and cowarded out on the personal stuff. May use it later. I have been waiting for the continuation of your story. I hope it is because you have been too busy and are not going to let me go on and on by myself....ha ha
Kind regards, Elizabeth

January 28, 2008 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Barry Nong said...

hey, can you do that thing that annie oakley used to do. jumping from side to side on the horse?
Yehaw! I bet you do it on the way to the shop to get the milk eh!

January 28, 2008 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 28, 2008 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

Hello Margaret,
Yes was I and thanks for the compliment..at that age we all looked a lot better than we do now..speaking for myself. Kind regards, Elizabeth

January 30, 2008 at 8:44 PM  
Blogger Lizzie's Insomnia said...

Hi Nong,
Yes I "yehaw" to get the milk bringing in the cow, Mrs. Moo. She is a Jersey and the cream was too yummy so no longer milk her...bet no one has used that excuse for not milking the cow before. ha ha Cheers Elizabeth

January 30, 2008 at 8:46 PM  

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