2013.2 Western Qld Second Trip - Days 4 to 15

Monday, Sep 23, 2013 at 21:02

Member - Ossiejs (Qld)

Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame Museum, Longreach.
Day 4

I'm now ready for a stint of volunteer work at the ASHOF Museum. I was ready for a 9:00 start, which is when the doors open to the public. They were queued at the front door. T'was a good idea as it was already 25°, with a forecast of 35°. Meeting the Curator, I was introduced to an air-conditioned environment in the Hugh Sawrey Art Gallery which regularly displays the work of Australian artists, as well as being the Curator's other office. The current works on display are those of acclaimed Australian Artist [url=http://www.artoncairncross.com.au/john-morrison/]. He is to visit the Art Gallery in a week or so with his partner, and I look forward to meeting them. In the interim, I will be admiring his inspiring outback art, and dreaming!

Many would know Hugh Sawrey CBE was a gifted Australian artist and visionary who, in 1974 "dreamt of creating a grand tribute to the unsung heroes of remote Australia. This dream, it turned out, was shared by other outstanding Australians, including the legendary R.M. Williams." Source: ASHOF website. Sawrey was co-founder of ASHOF.

This was going to be a pleasant working environment indeed. The principal work I would be doing is probably frustrating to some involving the proper library cataloging of thousands of photographs depicting Australian people, places and events. I was in my element, as most of my working life was of a similar nature. I love attention to the smallest detail - and not a damn lawyer or petty government bureaucrat in sight.

After an introduction to the proprietary cataloging software eHive, I was away. Before I knew it, it was knock off time. Pleased with my day's work and given this was only day 1, I contemplated including a return visit to ASHOF, to continue this historically valuable work on my next trip to the Outback.

Note to self: consult with SWMBO re when next I can come back!

Days 5 and 6

These days were much the same as previously, only a lot more productive as I became more familiar with the eHive software. Things were warming up in the tropics as they reached a warm 41° And more of the same is expected.

Included in the early photographs catalogued included famous Australian artist Sir Sidney Nolan, the legendary R.M. Williams, iconic author Dame Mary Durack, as well as many other identities involved in the establishment of the ASHOF - living and deceased. Also important, not publically known, were photographs of many hitherto unknown stockmen and stockwomen who participated in outback musters, drover's reunions, bronco branding competitions since ASHOF opened in 1988. I felt as if I had met some of them personally, as will anybody researching the eHive database. This was going to be an exciting and educational two weeks - for me.

After that, the road beyond beckons.

Day 7

Work was much the same as before. For a bit of variety, I made time to get to the 1 hour ASHOF Outback Show today. A third generation stockman Lachie Cossor, with his wife and three daughters, entertained the group for the hour. I bought his first album (CD) "Rollin" of good old Aussie country and western music a few days ago, and is well worth listening to. His show included a couple of his songs; on his stockhorse and on a 10 year old very very tame Brahman-cross bull named Jigsaw. He was 1,000kg, and the thought of how many steaks he coud be made into never crossed my mind, not even once!

Lachie gave the audience some stockhorse and working dog demonstrations as part of his show, which was thoroughly entertaining and informative. He and his family generated lots of outback humour and genuine laughs with the way he worked his stockhorse, and with tricks his horse did on its own, and while being ridden. Never having been a stockman, unlike my father, his father, his grandfather, etc., I'd never liked the thought of spurs being needed when riding a horse, but today clearly demonstrated to me their necessity, when used on a stockhorse Lachie loved his horse, and the horse trusted Lachie, with a splash of horsie humour. If you get to Longreach before the end of October, I can recommend the Outback Show as part of your visit to the iconic Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre.

Day 8

I didn't mention yesterday that on a pre-dawn walk to the laundry facilities, there was a pair of brolgas doing their legendary courtship dance. And me without a camera! Up early again today, I found them fearlessly walking through the Park, but, not otherwise distracted by their courtship games, I couldn't get too close for a reasonable photograph.

So today, I thought I would take half a day off, for good behaviour. Before I left, it was with some pride that I signed off and handed to the Museum's Curator a copy of my dad's self-published biography of his father. "LR Cattleman", written by Bob Shaw, will now be part of the ASHOF's Library, ensuring another small part of our outback history is recorded for future generations.

I hadn't been into Longreach's "CBD" since arriving over a week ago. Shopping for a few essentials, including quality and hard-wearing outback clothing, I had an average lunch at one of the Longreach bakeries and returned to my oven of a Camper. I had knocked up a simple and sort of effect evaporative air conditioner before I left home. A simple conduit frame, a tea towel, an old fishing tackle box half filled with water, and my 12v fan. It sort of works, but in the 39° early afternoon temperature, a few degrees is lovely - sort of! Now I should be able to enjoy marginally cooler nights.

At least, I could update my travel blog, while waiting for an afternoon blow, and possible rain. The blow has started, so the apparent temperature has dropped almost 10°. I still haven't decided what to do over the weekend. Another visit to my cousins at Beaconsfield, or visit an old family friend at Winton. Decisions, decisions. I'll let you know tomorrow.

Day 9
I've changed the format slightly after reading, and liking, the information Member Yachtie records daily.
Saturday 28 September 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 21°-36°; light rain, possible storm
Activities:
After a week's work at the ASHOF, it was time to relax, with a stroll through Longreach and window shopping. Bought a few little hardware items for the Camper, including a decent collapsible metal windshield for making a brew outside on my travels. I had bought a flimsy aluminium one from the "you know where shop" on line, but the Longreach Outdoors Shop had a decent one. It's now in my inventory. I had looked for, and placed an order with, a number of camping stores for this type of windscreen in Brisbane for twelve or so months, with no success. Today, lucky.

Having stocked up on quality clothing yesterday, I avoided the clothing shops lest I be tempted. But, I found a second bakery which had more of an outback feel to it "Yeast 2 West" in Eagle Street. It gets my vote, and I enjoyed my first pie this trip. And the freshly baked break is to die for.

Took a little tour around the area, and then returned to the Camper. After making little improvements to my 12v air conditioner, I spent a quiet but warm afternoon in what shade I could find reading my recent purchase from AAOD - "Unsung Heroes".

Published this year by Penguin, the book is a series of 150 short, true stories of outback characters from the 19th and 20th centuries. The book is a good read, and imparts an honest feeling for the conditions faced by our pioneers - men, women and children - over the past century and a half. I am enjoying it, and can recommend it for some bed-time reading. And no, I'm not getting a sales commission!

Commentary:
My little home-made basic evaporative air conditioner made marginal, but noticeable difference overnight, making for a more comfortable temperature. I suspect by 1 or 2° from the recorded 25° - 30°. It's all in the mind!

Day 10
Sunday 29 September 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel, including Ilfracombe
Weather forecast: 18° - 37°; fine, mostly sunny
Activities:
Visited my second cousins on their property north of Ilfracombe. Also there was there was a son and daughter-in-law with their four young children (3rd and 4th cousins?). Lovely to see the young family growing up.

Back to Longreach, I was amazed to find Foodworks open with most other businesses being closed on a Sunday. A few things were added in preparation for my independent camping trek south west in a week or so.

Returned "home" to my camp oven of a Camper. After opening up, and switching on my "air conditioner", the gradual temperature drop was reassuring. Propped outside in the little shade available, I updated my blog, met and chatted to new friendly neighbours, and planned to spend the afternoon embraced in a bit more reading of my new book. It was only 35.8° at midday and gradually getting cooler: 35.4° by 3:00pm.

Day 11
Monday 30 September 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 19° -37°; possible shower or storm
Activities:
Today heralds the start of my second week working at ASHOF. I wonder which outback folk I'll meet today, or at least catalogue their photographs. Still engrossed in the history I am assisting in recording, mainly early-mid 20's stuff at the moment. Lots of previously "unknown" drovers, graziers, stockmen and bushmen. At last their names will be recorded and acknowledged for their families and historians. It was fortuitous timing to be reading my book of such unsung heroes. It is putting so much into perspective for me.

Some photos were of the Bruce Yeates Memorial Building, followed by the actual Hall of Fame building under construction over 25 years ago. Having worked in the Hall of Fame building for a week or so, I can now really appreciate the post and rail artisanship skills required to expertly shape and dress the timber used with a razor-sharp adze (no machines here), and the massive saw used to cut and shape the sandstone used in the building's construction.

Commentary:
Absolutely enjoying the book "Unsung Heros". It provides the real experiences of our early pioneers, especially stockmen and drovers - white, Aboriginal, and mixed. The role of the Aboriginal drover cannot be underestimated, with their knowledge of the land, tracking ability (man and beast), bush lore, finding water and food, liaison with local tribesmen (with caution!), and many other skills. Many became excellent stockmen. Their role is not to be underestimated.

The book also reminds us of the then widespread prickly pear problem, beriberi sickness through inadequate Vitamin B1 (thiamine) nutrition in their diets, droving cattle and horses over unimaginable distances (well before road trains), water for man and beast, food for the stock, and the quest for fresh food (mainly meat) for the men and women. The horsemanship and cattle-handling skills (breeding, breaking in, shoeing, saddle making, saddling, riding, etc., etc. has passed down through the generations. Lessons learned from these early pioneers can still be seen today.

Day 12
Tuesday 1 October 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 20° -37°; shower, chance of gusty storm
Activities:
Much the same as previous days, and still finding the work mildly exciting as I research and record the photographs, biographies and places not found in any history book. I'm doing my bit to ensure historians, students and the interested public that an important component of our pioneering history is captured and recorded. Still love it.

Perfect timing of my trip to Longreach! Today I had the good fortune to meetJohn Morrison, and his enchanting partner Janette De Sousa Roque. John and Janette were here for the launch of their artistic, colourfully illustrated and well-researched book "Captain Starlight - Harry Readford". After a quick perusal, and talking to John, I bought the book. More enjoyable reading ahead.

Commentary:
Hardly an "unsung hero", Readford (commonly mis-spelt 'Redford') is famous in Central West folklore, and indeed throughout Australia, as one of our genuine 'Aussie' outback pioneers. I think I would have liked the man, sharing a dislike for the "heavy handed bureaucracy and the strict British system of law that took a very narrow view of justice and personal freedom". Not much has changed.

"Captain Starlight - Harry Readford" is a an illustrated and factual story book for young and old alike. The life of Harry Readford is comprehensively illustrated on every page with John's art. If only to see John's art, I can highly recommend adding his colourful literary canvas to your reference material, library, or coffee table.

NOTE: I originally had the URL for a different John Morrison. It has now been corrected.

Day 13
Wednesday 2 October 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 19° - 37°; Sunny. Light winds becoming southwesterly 15 to 20 km/h in the late afternoon then tending southerly in the late evening.
Activities: Nothing out of the ordinary to report today other than a fierce westerly wind, dust and four drops of rain in the evening. I'll be eating that fine red dust for days! At ASHOF, catalogued a series of impressive photographs of experienced Stockmen and Stockwomen who competed in and won championships in outback rodeos and campdraughts on broncos and steers, before I was born. I wondering if I'll find my forebears on my father's side as competitors, judges, or spectators. A cool change (16° - 34°) is forecast out here for tomorrow, and I'm slowly acclimatising to the heat, so we'll see!

Day 14
Thursday 3 October 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 16° - 34°; Sunny. Winds southerly 20 to 30 km/h.
Activities: I continued with my usual cataloguing duties, including talking to and assisting visitors with general queries about people and places in the outback. I also had the occasional enjoyable chat with John and Janette.

Day 15
Friday 4 October 2013
Campsite: Longreach Tourist Park
Campsite Co-ordinates: Caravan Park
Cost of Camping Site: Ensuite site;@ $240/week - 7th night free
Distance travelled: local travel
Weather forecast: 16° - 34°; Sunny. Winds southerly 20 to 30 km/h.
Activities: My last day here was pretty much similar to the past two weeks. It was with a little bit of sadness, for a second or two that I bid fond farewells to David, the dedicated and hardworking Curator, and the John and Janette. Next time I plan to be in their home town, Marie and I hope to catch up for a coffee and a chat. You meet the nicest people in the outback.

Did a little spot of shopping before I embark on the return and meandering trek back to Brisbane for a couple of weeks. Remembering my night in Mitchell on the way up two weeks ago, I bought a compact cotton quilt for the Camper. It is now park of my permanent Camper inventory. The old Packhorse is slowly getting fitted out for truly independent camping. Just add food and water as needed.

Refuelled at BP, Longreach for the start tomorrow. Diesel $1.689/litre. Plan to call into cousins at Beaconsfield to say 'cheerio' for this trip. They will be busy loading sheep for transport, and as I know little about sheep (besides warm woollen jumpers and socks, mutton and raw onion sangers, a good lamb chop, lamb shanks, ...) I would be a hindrance. Plan to have a look around Stonehenge, then Jundah, with a camp overnight near Jundah.

New blog starts tomorrow. Am thinking, after two weeks in Longreach, I might give my Prado the nickname "Bronc" (no disrespect to our stockmen and rough riders!) and the little Jayco, the nickname "Packhorse" to remind me of my first stint at the Hall of Fame. I'm already my next trip in the first half of 2014.
To forget one's ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root -- Chinese Proverb
John & Marie
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