This city girl has lost her heart to the country. How could I not after spending the weekend on a cattle station just outside of Julia Creek in far central Western Queensland?
The Haynes family have been based on Keswick Station for over 30 years, and a more genuine welcome I am yet to find. Jim and his wife Jean are delightful. Treated like a member of the family, I joined in and got down and dirty, smiling the entire time. So thanks to Jennie for the invite.
With more rain than usual for this time of year, the paddocks were green, with glorious black mud ankle deep for negotiation. Gum boots were essential items of attire and I am now sporting toned calves and thighs after slogging through the mud for three days.
Driving into Julia Creek from Cloncurry there was water over the road in three places. We came into Julia Creek expecting to swap over from our hire car to the farm 4WD. Due to the amount of rain however (more than has been seen since the mid 1950's)we ended up overnighting in Julia Creek. Jean's Mum, Margaret, put us up for the night, so we took her out for dinner as a thank you. Julia Creeks "top pub" was jumping on Friday night, with half the community on hand for drinks, dinner and a chat.
In her 80's Margaret still drives a big Toyota 4WD around, except for a couple of weeks ago when she nudged another car. Just happened to be the local Policewoman, oops. Her home is a tribute to her life and family with photos of family members across the generations, handicrafts and bric a brac on every available surface. She truly is a classic example of the traditional country woman. Central to her family and local community.
Saturday lunch time we finally got the all clear to head out to Keswick Station. Hire car safely parked at Margaret's we piled all of our gear into the 4WD and headed out of town. Keswick is approx 40 000 acres, so as properties go it is not small. It pales into insignificance however compared to the family's other property in the Gulf country. At 248 000 acres Kuchera is massive. This is managed by Jim and Jean's daughter Belinda, supported by daughter Kylie, and her fiancé Tommy.
Lunch Saturday was a family affair, with oldest daughter Kimberley and her husband, and daughters, Peyton 9 and Kadence 5 joining us. Margaret wasn't given time to miss us, as she too came out for lunch. Lots of fun and laughter, good conversation, food and a game or two of cards. Perfect.