Life in the bush

Old Oct 25th 2016, 1:28 pm
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Australian farms: Tim Bates on wild dogs killing sheep and cattle
Gosh, this looks pretty gruesome! According to the report, the sheep-killers are all "ordinary" dogs and not dingoes - although some are mongrels with dingo blood. This is quite foreign to my personal experience. Every once in a while, when I was a boy in the '40s and '50s, Dad and his friends got up a "dingo-drive" to hunt and shoot them; but there weren't many around where we lived. There weren't supposed to be any, since our place was within the official dingo-proof (and rabbit-proof) fence; but some got through.

They did leave baited traps for the dingoes, too; my own dog died from eating bait, when I was away at boarding school.
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Old Oct 30th 2016, 12:03 pm
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I haven't said much about schooling in the bush, in my young days, so here are a few snippets... I first went to school at age seven, as soon as the Statte Education Department sent out a teacher (aged 17, fresh from Training College). The one-room school building was an old wooden former-schoolhouse brought over from another bush settlement. No glass in the window, which had a weatherboard flap that could be closed against the rain when it did rain. No electricity, so no fans and no lights. Three miles from home; my brother and I rode our bikes, except in the wet, when we rode a horse at first, and later a horse each!

Before the school opened, mothers taught their kids from the lessons sent out on the train from Brisbane three times a week and collected from the postmaster; the lessons were sent back for marking when we kids had completed them. The mums were on their honour not to cheat! My Mum did this for three years, and I was four years at the school before all of us in the top class headed off to boarding schools.
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Old Nov 6th 2016, 4:41 pm
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This thread seems to be more popular that I thought it would be - over 6000 hits in eight months, 200 a week, more or less. I don't know who the visitors are, but I guess they must be immigrants to Oz who don't get far out of the coastal cities. "The bush" is an indeterminate region, and a flexible term. Where I was brought up - the western part of the Darling Downs - had mostly small sheep stations, not large ones. We lived in the bush, but nowhere near The Outback! In fact my dad used to refer to himself as a "cocky", which was a disparaging term for a small-farmer, and our place was scarcely a "station" in the original sense of the word.

We had 5000 acres, and our neighbours had anything from 10,000 acres down to about 1500. Sheep only, in those days; the places weren't big enough for cattle (which require more acres to roam around on), and the area wasn't wet enough to grow wheat. I think there's wheat today, but only because of artesian bores. Dad carried up to 2500 sheep when the grass and water were plentiful, but that number was much reduced when they weren't.

One reminiscence that may seem odd is my reference to riding bikes or horses to school. It was only three miles away, and you'd think we boys would have walked. But in fact people in our corner of the world didn't walk much at all. Nor did we ever run around in bare feet. Shoes were essential - to protect against both burrs and snakes, even inside the house-yard, and most of us grew up with soft feet because of the shoes.
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Old Dec 13th 2016, 3:48 pm
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Of course the Queensland bush wasn't the only place in the world where mothers hand-sewed their children's clothes. Are there any BE listers who remember that? The poorer parts of Britain must have shared the experience.

I can remember when my younger brother and I got our first store-bought clothes - a shiny buff-coloured "suit" of shirt and short-pants, each. I was seven and he was four, so this would have been in 1946. Mum was a hopeless seamstress, and churned out some embarrassingly shapeless overalls for us to wear. I started school that same year (after years of correspondence-school), and I wish I could recall what I wore then. I don't have any photos. Only our grandparents in Brisbane had a camera, at that time.
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Old Dec 14th 2016, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
Of course the Queensland bush wasn't the only place in the world where mothers hand-sewed their children's clothes. Are there any BE listers who remember that? The poorer parts of Britain must have shared the experience.

I can remember when my younger brother and I got our first store-bought clothes - a shiny buff-coloured "suit" of shirt and short-pants, each. I was seven and he was four, so this would have been in 1946. Mum was a hopeless seamstress, and churned out some embarrassingly shapeless overalls for us to wear. I started school that same year (after years of correspondence-school), and I wish I could recall what I wore then. I don't have any photos. Only our grandparents in Brisbane had a camera, at that time.
All our clothes were hand made by my mum or my aunt. Mum made wedding and bridesmaids' dresses at home...she used the off cuts to make us dresses. My aunt hand knitted jumpers and cardies for family, friends, neighbours etc. She knitted jumpers and cardies for my sister and me from the wool left over. All our woolies were multi colored stripes and most of our dresses were made of brocade and lace.
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Old Dec 14th 2016, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
Of course the Queensland bush wasn't the only place in the world where mothers hand-sewed their children's clothes. Are there any BE listers who remember that? The poorer parts of Britain must have shared the experience.

I can remember when my younger brother and I got our first store-bought clothes - a shiny buff-coloured "suit" of shirt and short-pants, each. I was seven and he was four, so this would have been in 1946. Mum was a hopeless seamstress, and churned out some embarrassingly shapeless overalls for us to wear. I started school that same year (after years of correspondence-school), and I wish I could recall what I wore then. I don't have any photos. Only our grandparents in Brisbane had a camera, at that time.
My mum made us clothes and knitted. I also made and knitted my own stuff. I designed it myself and would quite often be late to a party sewing up a storm. My friends loved my home made creations. The kind of funky little dresses you'd find in places like "Off Ya Tree" now were really expensive imports from the UK in the 80's so I just used to make them myself.
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Old Dec 16th 2016, 8:01 am
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Below is an interesting link about automation on Australian farms. When my wife and I hostelled in eastern Australia in 1970 we spoke with several English youngsters who were picking apples, on working visas. Australian kids of the same age were reluctant to do the work, it was said. (On the other side of the world at that time, young Aussies were working in English pubs because English youngsters wouldn't do it, it was said.) Go figure.
Robots lending a helping hand on Australia's farms - News from Al Jazeera

Here's a brief extract from the report:
Moving soundlessly down the corridors between trees, an electric robot will scan each plant, identifying individual fruit and flowers. An algorithm is then used to classify and count the apples in each image and provide a yield estimation, a critical figure for farmers that will inform Sanders' plans to manage his orchards and the harvest.
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Old Dec 19th 2016, 4:25 pm
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I see there's a new thread called "rail". Reminds me of my rides on what we used to call the "rail motor" (what would that have been - diesel?) between Toowoomba and Hannaford going to and from boarding school. The rail-motor was based in Toowoomba; from there to and from Brisbane there was a regular steam-train. Happily for me - and my school-friend who also lived in the bush one stop from mine - I had grandparents in T'ba, so we always had time for tea and bikkies there.

I think the whole journey probably took eight or ten hours from go to whoa, but I don't remember exactly. I'm still in touch with my old chum, so I'll ask him.
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Old Dec 19th 2016, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
I see there's a new thread called "rail". Reminds me of my rides on what we used to call the "rail motor" (what would that have been - diesel?) between Toowoomba and Hannaford going to and from boarding school. The rail-motor was based in Toowoomba; from there to and from Brisbane there was a regular steam-train. Happily for me - and my school-friend who also lived in the bush one stop from mine - I had grandparents in T'ba, so we always had time for tea and bikkies there.

I think the whole journey probably took eight or ten hours from go to whoa, but I don't remember exactly. I'm still in touch with my old chum, so I'll ask him.
A couple of years ago they took the tracks up from the old siding at Thebine all the way to Kingaroy. Kilometres of rail went for scrap and the area was full of blokes selling old sleepers from the back of trucks.
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Old Dec 20th 2016, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by cresta57
A couple of years ago they took the tracks up from the old siding at Thebine all the way to Kingaroy. Kilometres of rail went for scrap and the area was full of blokes selling old sleepers from the back of trucks.
Wikipedia spells it Theebine, Cresta. There are some great photos of the old railway line, with trains, at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_...ne,_Queensland

By the way, I checked with my old friend, who still lives out at The Gums on the Downs, and he told me the trip home on holidays took us the best part of 12 hours. What a long waste of precious vacation time! The first time I did the trip, at the end of my first term, aged 11, my grandparents would have met me at the station in Toowoomba, taken me back for a quick cuppa and put me back on the next part of the journey. After that, I caught the "coordinated" bus from Helidon up the range (it took half an hour, while the train took an hour longer!) and got the driver to drop me off at the top of Margaret Street, where the grandparents lived.

Our branch line ended at Glenmorgan. There's a 1991 photo of a rail-motor on that track on Wikipedia (below). It was a comfortable ride, I remember that. I think it ran three times a week out to Hannaford in the 1940s and '50s. Dad used to drive the three miles down to the siding and general store (rode a horse in the wet season) to pick up the mail and to shop for veges and bread. The siding was where we packed the sheep onto rail-trucks for the butchers in T'ba. Or were they in Brisbane? I'll have to ask Donnie again.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenmorgan_railway_line
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Old Dec 23rd 2016, 1:36 pm
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My friend Don reminded me of the custom of the navvies who lived by the tracks while on maintenance assignments, to call "PAPER!" whenever a train passed them. We boys saved newspapers to throw them, although some threw paper bags full of water. 'Little bastards!', Don says now, looking back. We thought then that the men wanted to keep up with the latest news, but today I think they probably wanted paper for bog-rolls. After all, cut-up newspapers served for toilet paper in our outdoor dunnies at home. If we were caught short while away from home, we used sticks, mostly, and cleaned our hands on the leaves of trees. Not grass, so much, because you never knew whether sheep or horses had been there before us!
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Old Dec 26th 2016, 12:33 pm
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Not all irrigation is via artesian bores GB.

We supply pump stations and irrigation equipment to many farmers across the Downs, a lot of irrigation water is harvested from overland flow, ie in a rain event, captured into dams or turkey's nests as they like to refer to them. Others have extraction licences to extract from the river systems, again this is often stored in turkey's nests and then finally there's the coal seam gas water - a by product of coal seam gas harvesting. In South Australia, all our irrigation came from bores but we've found very little in this area. Bores are more often for stock water alone.
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Old Dec 28th 2016, 2:43 pm
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Originally Posted by jothefw
Not all irrigation is via artesian bores GB.
I guess not, Jo! But my memories of life in the bush ended in 1954, and back then not everybody even had a bore on his property; so irrigation was pretty much out of the question. Until Dad struck water at 1200 feet in 1963 (?), all our water for the animals came from the dredged "dams". Household water was saved in 5000- or 10000-gallon galvanised-iron tanks; in a place where the average rainfall was something like 10 inches a year, we never wasted a drop. When Dad leased-out the property and we moved to Toowoomba, it took us a while to get used to brushing our teeth in running water instead of in half a glass of tap-water! (The bore water was brackish, and we never had it connected to the tanks.)
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Old Jan 2nd 2017, 2:26 pm
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Originally Posted by jothefw
...a lot of irrigation water is harvested from overland flow, captured into dams or turkey's nests as they like to refer to them. Others have extraction licences to extract from the river systems, again this is often stored in turkey's nests and then finally there's the coal seam gas water - a by product of coal seam gas harvesting. In South Australia, all our irrigation came from bores but we've found very little in this area. Bores are more often for stock water alone.
Good Lord, Jo: I've never even heard of some of those things. The term "turkey's nest" is new to me: where did that come from? "Coal seam gas water" - again, totally new to me. What is it?

There was no river where we lived, out west of Tara - only a creek that was dry for all but a couple of weeks a year. Our dams had sloping sides - to make a better catchment area, I presume - and that had to do for the sheep. Our property was 5000 acres to begin with, although Dad sold a couple of paddocks during the twenty years he lived there; and we had only two dams, that I can recall. I don't recall them ever running completely dry, but a couple of times when they got low he had to sell off some or all of the sheep. When it rained, he went out into the paddocks and cut trenches joining up all the melon-holes to make the water last. As I think I said before in this thread, it usually rained twice a year, but occasionally one of the rains didn't come.
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Old Jan 12th 2017, 5:49 am
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I suppose that some (many?) British immigrants will be surprised that I have never mentioned the presence of aborigines in my little part of the Australian bush. But there were almost none there. There must have been some, of course; but their culture didn't tie them to permanent residence in any one place. They had their hereditary sacred places, which British settlers and British authorities generally disregarded; but they (the aborigines) didn't have villages. They also didn't believe in individual title to any piece of land.

Cultures that recognised formal land ownership have always had a hard time getting their minds around the concept of entitlement-without-title. Hence all the warfare in the Americas and elsewhere where the two incompatible cultures met.

There were usually two or three aborigines hanging around gymkhanas and the like, where I lived as a child, but they were pretty much ignored - neither included nor excluded. The British courts, at the time of the earliest British invasions, ruled that they weren't human. In my time, on the Downs, they were assuredly regarded as human, but (generally speaking) simply too foreign to bother with.
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