HARROWIING SIGHT FOR DESERT TRAVELLERS A pathetic sight greeted Mr. and Mrs. W. N. McDonald, of Fossil Downs station in the Kimberleys, when they arrived at Madura station, Eyre-highway, on their trip across Australia this week. They found dead horses on the homestead's verandah, dead crows and rabbits littered about the place and a cat nearly dead.
Mrs. McDonald gave the cat some milk while her two daughters-aged nine and six -cried in pity. Mr. McDonald said after their arrival in Perth last night: "In my lifetime of travelling throughout every part of Australia, I've seen nothing like it. It was a crying shame." "Imagine how we felt." Mrs. McDonald said. "It had been a dry, depressing trip and we had seen only deserted stations. We had seen no live animals except ing two kangaroos and a rabbit and, to make matters worse, we had run over the rabbit. Water was scarce and it was hot. Then we read in our map guide that we were approaching Madura station where it said there were hot min- eral springs and showers available. It seemed like an oasis in the desert." "When we arrived at the station, we could hardly believe our eyes," said Mr. McDonald, taking up the story. "The windmill had been blown inside out, there were dead crows and rabbits on the ground and on the back verandah of the homestead we found two dead horses. They had evidently gone up to the kitchen with the hope of getting food but no-one was there and they had died of starva- tion. The carcass of another horse was nearby in a paddock. They looked as if they had been dead about a fortnight. "The homestead had been broken into but it did not appear as if anything had been stolen,"
he continued. "Crockery was on the shelves and everything ap- peared in order but the place was not being lived in. My wife found some powdered milk and gave it to the nearly-dead cat" Rabbits had died because they had eaten everything there was left to eat, he continued. Wild dogs had also been a menace and the drought, coupled with the
complex water supply and the diffi- culty of getting labour in the area, had resulted in pastoralists meet- ing with the utmost hardships. Some had abandoned their pro- perties. Of the stations they passed along this stretch of the highway, Koonalda was the most thriving with about 500 sheep and 20 head of cattle. This was in marked contrast with conditions in the Kimberleys. The water position was serious along the highway, he said. In many cases water holes marked on the maps were dry and in others there was very little water. Nearly all water tanks along the highway were in need of repair. Mr. McDonald advised any motorist intending to cross the Nullarbor Plain to take a good water supply. The road was excel- lent and he found that the worst patch between Sydney and Perth was between Norseman and Cool- gardie.