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A PASTORAL TRIP.
[By Julius Grunike.]
No. IV. —Fine Cattle Country.—
There is probably no finer stretch of cat tle fattening country to be found anywhere to-day iu Australia than along the Georgina River, in wpstnrn Onpcnslnnd ? All the wav
ioutli from Bedou'ric, through Cluny. Glen gj'lc, Dubbp Downs, Kallidiwarry, and An nandalc Stations, for miles on each side of the river, are to be seen vast plains co vered with magnificent grass. Hundreds of square miles of this country have been flooded by the King, Georgiua, andMulli ptn liivors. and now that the water is dry ing up a splendid growthof feed is covering the ground. For miles in places. the coun try appears to be as level as a table, and is covered with a dense crop of clover a foot to two feet in height. This clover makes capital hay, and on some stations arc to be seen stacks of it stored for future use. At Cluny Station Mr. Field has a weil built stack of about 60 tons in capital condi tion, and at Currawilla, on the Diamantina, nnd at Difbbo Downs, similar provision has been made. As horsefecd costs anything up to £20 a ton 'delivered on the stations in dry seasons; and as this 'clover hay. can be had for tho mere cost of the labour employ ed, it is good business to stack it for the lean years. —Feed in Plenty but Cattle Scarce — Turning southward from Cluny, after a few miles we pass the junction of the King and Georgina Rivers, and enter the s Glengyle Run,, owned by Mr. McGregor, j of Melbourne, and managed by Mr; A. \V..i Piper. The run comprises some S00 square miles, and has on it about 1,200 cattle, all in splendid condition, mostly breeders and young cattle. About 300 fats have just , been sent to the Adelaide market. This i run, like most others un this way, is at present much understocked, and the one regret expressed on every side is that there arc not more animals available to be fat tened on this 'country, to enable the owners to convert into cash the feed which must otherwise go to waste. —Stock Held for Higher Prices.— Several lots of cattle from the river north of here have been travelled to Bourke for sale in Sydney this year, the owners preferring that market to what is considered the more fluctuating one in Ade laide. Some owners, too, are holding their fat cattle until next year, feeling certain from their knowledge of the losses that Irave taken place during the past few years, and the drain that has been made on cattle of any age during the same period, that much higher prices will rule next year. And this seems practically certain to be the case, as for the nest year or two only ! a limited number of bullocks of the right ages will be available for market;. This has been such a good season thai several sta tions with only small numbers of cattle on them have put the animals into the market, and they have no other cattle to lake the place of those sent away. —A Fattening Depot.— The busiest station I saw anywhere in Queensland was Annandalc, the great fat tening depot of Mr. Kidman's, from which place the fat cattle gravitate to the South -Australian markets. This is the station whence the bulk of the fat cattle for Adelaide have come during the past year or wo. Mr. J. P. Gaffney, who is general manager of Mr. Kidman's stations at Annandale, Kallidiwarry, and Dubho Downs, last year sent away to Adelaide ?from tliess runs nearly 9,000 fat rattle, in addition to another thousand or two of fats secured at other places. There is an im mense amount of work for a manager and his men to do in mustering, drafting, and dispatching to market 10,000 cattle. The animals are. sent away in lots of three to four hundred at a time, with sufficient ,'n tervals between each mob to prevent crowd ing in the . market. Mr. Gaffney also has a thousand or more horses to look after on the stations under .hia control, and when we reached Annandalc he had several hun dred in hand ready to be drafted for mar ket. About 600 of these have been selected ami arc now on their way sewth, to form part of a lot of nearly a thousand Mr. Kid man will shortly be advertising for sa-le at Kapnmln. Annandale has 'this year brand ed ivell on to 2,000 calves, and in a few year.? there should be a cood-azed herd established here. — A Paradise for Live Stock. — The country all along the Georgina seems well adapted for breeding cattle and liora-s-. It is splendidly grassed, has a very fair .rainfall, and nearly always gets the flood waters which come down from the semi-tropical country on the .table lands along the Northern Territory bor der and western Queensland. The waterholes along the river are as nearly permanent as possible. Some of them are several miles in length and of sufficient) width and depth to float and turn a good sized ship in. There are lakes and lagoons scattered about this ' beautifully pastured country, all helping to make it a perfect paradise for live stock. — Sandhill Country — . Leaving the Georgina River we struck eastward., and after getting away about 20 miles entered the sandhill country. The feed on the sandhills between here and Birdsville is good this year, but around Birdsville it begins to go off agan, although the residents reckon the country is look ing well. It is a, wet season compared with what they have had. Six inches of rain has fallen already' this year, or about as much as fell during the three previous years. —A Novelty at Birdsville.— Business people at Birdsville and in western Queensland generally complain about the serious inconvenience they are put to in having a mail from Hergott only once a fortnight, and it would pay Adelaide merchants to do their best to get the week ly mail re-established. It takes months sometimes to get a simple order executed from Adelaide under the present mail ar rangements. Birdsville recently had the novelty of a loaded wagon arriving in the town with goods from Hergott. This load, brought by Mr. W. Crombie, of Mungara nie, was the first wa-jon which had reached Birdsville for live years. During all that time of drought all goods were carted up by camel train. —A Drv Area.— I rode up the Diamantina, north-cast of Birdsville. for. 65 miles, through the Bluff and Thundapurty R«ns. These stations, owned by the A.J.S. Bank, have only 200 horses on them, nearly all of the cattle baving succumbed during the drought. This is about the driest part of Queensland, and it- will take a number of good seasons to restore the country away from the chan nels of the Diamanlinii into anything like stock-carrying condition. —In South Australia Again.— Joininc Mr. and Mrs. Kidman at Birds
ville I etarted southward, and we passed through the border rabbit-prcof fence into South Australia, after exactly eiaht weeks' travelling. We had travelled for over a thousand miles through Queensland terri tory, over gibber plains, boggy channels, flooded creeks and swamps, and steep sand hills without any untoward iucident; but a few hours after entering South Australia we got a temporary check. Dropping over a pretty steep bank into one of the flooded channels of the Diamantina the buggy land ed in the gluey mud, a trace broke, the pole gave a resounding crack, and the vehicle was fast in the middle of the stream. No time for hesitation. In a twinkling Mr. Kidman had off his hoots, was into the water, unharnessed Hie horses, and waded through the mud and water to remove the contents of the buggy. —The Cattle King 'in the Soup.'— For once Mr. Kidman was fairly 'in the soup.' A rare chance for a real good snap, shot was lost here. The cattle king, in a semi-detached state- of attire, wading through the water to the buggy, and. with a line disregard for conventionality, carrying his better half piek-arback to ' the bank of the creek, with the half-buried buggy in the middle of the stream, and the timber-fringed bank of the Diamantina as a backeround, would have made a good picture. Half an hour's work saw everything adjusted, and we pas sed through Pandi Pandi Run. and by the deserted homestead. —Kidman Land.— Pandi Pandi is held by Mr. Kidman, but is at present unstocked. We travelled down the Birdsville track for about 40 miles! cros sing part of Clifton Hills Station, which does not look too well, and has - very few stock on it, and struck across eastward to Coongy. This is another Kidman station; in fact, with the exception of a few* miles of Clifton Hills country, we had -been tra velling for nearly a couple of hundred miles on country held by Mr. .Kidman. Coongy Station has had a really good 'rainfall this year, and looks first rate. The Cooper flood has got down .this: far, and is now 'filling up some of the immense. lakes on the run. There ?'are between three and four thousand cattle on the station, most of them bullocks being fattened up for next year. Coongy Station itself is situated in as pretty a place ns one could wish for. Gn a slight rise between the channel of the Cooper and an immense lake in front, of the homestead one can see ducks, peli cans, and the graceful, black swans float ing about. The manager /(Mr: M. R. Oakesi bis '^ the best -station residence I had ocs
anywhere m my travels1, and altogether .Mr. Kidman seems to have got a real bargain when he secured .Coongy last' year with 1,000 cattle for less -than £4,000. —A Beltana Company Property.— With a black boy as, a guide .we left Coon©*,1 and' travelled down the- Cooper past . Kanowinna Station, owned by the Ueltana Pastoral Company. All around lvanowinna and the eastern portion of the run the country looks splendid, herbnge and flowering
plant? knee deep everywhere. Ihis big 6ta-- tion, of 4,000 square miles, had only l,CO0 cattle on ' It j the' drought, having almost iviped-put the herd. .Ten years ago Kanowinna sold '4,000 fat bulfceks, 3,000 cows, and branded- 0,000 calves. From Kanowinna, down the Cooper, the country begins to fall away in condition, and need? rani badly. After travelling Eouth-west for 1 something over 100, miles across wretched sandhills we struck the Birdsville track at the Kopperamanna bore. .,'.-. —Valuable Artesian Wells A' ': The feed on ;the.'stock' route from Birds rille to Hergotl) is now' first' rate, better than it has been' for' several years, and fat Btock are brought - down with little loss of condition. The . facilities .for getting cattle to Adelaide: are increased by each artesian well 'of water' secured along the rcmte, and it now requires only one or -two more flows along the track to enable fat slock to be brought from Queensland to our northern railway at any time. It is difficult to estimate. what the benefit to South Australia has been by the construc tion of the artesian wells along the Birds ville- track. During the past couple of years thousands of fat cattle have come to the Adelaide market, which, but for the arte sian flows from: Hergott northward, would certainly have been diverted to the mar kets of tho eastern slates. These wells havo cost ft lot of ?money, but they have been the means of materially cheapening bhe cost -~f beef to the consumer in Soath Austra lia; and, as nearly all of the fat stock brought down front Queensland is carried over the railway, the construction of the wells has been a good investment by the state. ?'?'.' —Date Palms.— At the Lake Harry bore, 20 miles from Hergott, the State Forest Department has about. 10 acres of date palm trees growing. The bulk of these are about five years old; but the trees are more or less affected by scale, and have to be regularly sprayed to keep the pest in check. As an experiment to demonstrate the possibilities of the coun try, the plantation is useful; but it is nob likely that the imported article will hive much competition from- local grown dates. —End of a Delightful Trip.— , A quick run to the Great Northern Rail way line finished a trip of a couple of thou sand miles through pastoral country looking nc/.v at its best. Having been treated .with tho greatest possible hospitality everywhere —having travelled in the pleasantest of weather and in charming- and interesting company— I reached Adelaide after a most delightful trip. - . .