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! THROUGH the NOR -WEST j
A CHAT WITH MR. R, E. WEIR ^
The Chief Inspector of Stock (Mr. R. E. Weir) recently returned from an extended trip through the Norl-West country in company with the Public Works Engineer for the North-west (Mr. Tindale). The object of Mr. Weir's journey was primarily to in- quire into the tick question in the stock areas and to investigate stock matters generally. As the Chief In- spector naturally had a lot of informa- tion which should prove informative to our readers, we sought him out for a few particulars of his trip.
"I am submitting a lengthy report covering my experiences and inquiries to the Minister," remarked Mr. Weir, "much of which will no doubt reach thé press in due course." Mr. Weir left Fremantle on June 14 per the Min- deroo, reaching Derby on the 22nd.
Where did you proceed from Derby? asked the interviewer.
"We left that port on June 26 and travelled through Teda and Lower Liveringa stations to within 12 miles
of Mt. Anderson. At Y eda ticks were, found to be prevalent, and on account of the coarse nature of the herbage this proves favorable to the success- ful hatching of this parasite. This par- ticular country is unsuitable fop rear- ing of horses owing to the grasses, and outbreaks of the Kimberley disease are not infrequent. Further inland the natural pasture is more easily diges- tible, and the mortality is at a mini- mum. At Mt. Anderson shearing was in full swing, but we were hospitably received hy the manager. Mr. Wil- liams. There are about 12,000 sheep on this station, but it is possible to carry fr*m 15,000 up to 20,000 with additional water supply. Undoubtedly the finest sheep station in the Kim-"
MR. R. KENNETH TAKING HIS CHAMPION TAMWORTH BOAR TO THE SHOW. CROSSING THE SWAMP AT THE BACK OF YARLOOP.
BACON AND BUTTER FACTOR!" AT DENMARK, W.A.
berlcys is the Kimberley Pastoral Company's, adjacent to Mt. Anderson station. It fronts the Fitzroy River, but also contains a large number of natural dams. A large sum of money has been expended on the conservation of water by means of tanks, as the sub-artesian supplies have not alto- gether been a success in the waterless regions. At Noonkanbah, one of For- rest, Emanuel and Co.'s properties, 70,000 head of sheep were being shorn by native shearers owing to the shear- ers' strike."
Are all the herds affected with tick in that locality?
"Oh. no. Examination was made for the*presence of tick at the Gogo Sta- tion-probably the best cattle-run in the Kimberleys, and carrying 50,000 head. In every instance the cattle were perfectly free from the pest. From this station large numbers of the host quality of prime fat cattle are annually forwarded to our local markets, and it is extremely regrettable we cannot get such iiue cattle to their destination in a state approaching their prime condition on the run. A great deal of attention has been paid to improve- ment in the breeding of thc herd, and in the further provision of water in the back parts of the run, which lias increased the carrying capacity by 10Û per cent. Some difficult range country made motor travelling very unplea- sant, and many obstacles were encoun- tered in our route to Cos's Station, .ad- joining the Margaret River. Once there our host-one of the most hos- pitable of men-made life acceptably more comfortable for the time. A small portion of this run is tick-infest- ed, but thc greater part is free."
How is the Government station in that region getting on?
"The manager (Mr. Haly) met us at the Margaret River Station, which is now held by Vestey Bros., and he rendered us valuable help in travers- ing the country in the neighborhood. We reached Mulla Bulla on July 3. It is situated on the tableland, practi- cally between the two Kimberleys, at a high altitude of some 2000ft. above sea level. This station was fornitrjy composed of three small runs, and v as acquired by the Government in 1'jlO to form a feeding depot for natives in that centre. Mr. Haly, who was for- merly Inspector of Stock for East Kim- berley, has made good in his new managerial position. This was cn ¡y to be expected from one who hud :> vast local knowledge of thc country bi those parts and a lifelong experience among
What stock is the station now carrying?
"About 15,000 head cf cattle and a large number of horses, but the hold- ing capacity is being steadily develop- ed, and if the water problems can be overcome the run could successfully carry 40.000 to**50,000 cattle. In this section of country-unlike most of the Kimberley areas-chiefly Witchell and Flinders grasses arc in evidence, and these being of a light-and easily digested character the stock thrive well and horses may be bred success- fully. The breeding of horses is a
special feature of the management at Mulla Bulla, and some very high-class thoroughbreds and draught horses have been introduced there. In the tho
rougrhbreds the Ghoorka and Mithras progeny showed both growth and qua- lity, and when matured should make good remounts. In the Clydesdales Pride of Fashion is responsible for some shapely young colts, and these should prove very suitable as medium class draughts for the southern mar- kets. Mr. Haly bas great leanings to the Suffolk crosses for gunners, and for breeding this class of animal last year secured a fine young colt from the Homebush stud, which has furnished into a magnificent animal. Herd bulls have been introduced from the Gogo and Argyle stations, and the type of cattle shows a steady improvement, while two pedigree bulls and 10 heifers have been imported from Queensland. A good deal of killing is done at thc station for natives, and the hides are tanned on the station and sent to market- The station has not only served its purpose originally intended, but has proved a financial success. To obtain the fullest result from the pro- perty further improvements in con- nection with the water supply and fencing are essential. There is no reason why, with such improvements, the Mulla Bulla Station could not fat- ten at least 5000 head of bullocks an-
nually, and thus help to serve the i Wyndham Freezing Works. We tra-
velled on to Hall's Creek, now no ' longer a busy mining centre, thence
to Turkev Creek, and caüed in at Alice Downs and Ffog Hollow Stations en route. Rough rangy country, and then a light sand track brought us to Wyndham after a strenuous journey. Tlie motor trip from Derby overland can be accomplished in ten days, but I can hardly say there is much plea- sure in it, and no doubt greater com
fort could be obtained by the slower > method of horse and trap."
Mr. Weir attended to various de- partmental matters at Wyndham in connection with establishing watering facilities for stock approaching that centre. Questioned about the progress of the Freezing and Canning Works at Wyndham. Mr. Weir was thoroughly optimistic as to the ultimate benefit to our pastoral industry and the State generally of the Wyndham venture. He said: "1 found the works well under way, but necessarily some time will elapse before the requisite machinery is all installed and ready for opera- tions. Canning will most likely be proceeded with next year, but I do not think freezing will be entered upon before 1919.
The works are compact, and there is no doubt their construction is based
on plans which will permit operations
to be carried on at a minimum of cost. A jetty is being made adjacent to the work», and this will assist materially in facilitating loading and transport. These works will undoubtedly give a decided stimulus to cattle-breeding in that particular portion of tbe State, and we may look forward not only to an increase* in existing herds, but
country Still unoccupied will assuredly - be stocked in the early future. Small stock-owners who in various ways have been handicapped in the past will now be enabled to get good value for their stock, and will be encouraged to further develop their holdings."
Hr. Weir, having completed bis dut- ies at Wyndham, sailed by the Bambra
to Port Darwin, where lie had an op- portunity of inspecting Vestey Bros.* Meat Works. Mr. Weir was Impressed with the thoroughness o£ the appoint- ments in every way. He anticipates that some difficulty may be experi- enced in thc preliminary stages of the operations by insufficiency of cattle supplies, but is of the opinion that any
drawback in that direction will be re-
moved when the large tracta of pre- sent waterless and unoccupied country are developed by the provision of an adequate water supply, which is natu- rally a question of time."
Comparing the Wyndham scheme with Vestey Bros.' works at Port Dar- win, are there any particular advan- tages in favoir cf either sile?
"in many respects I think thc ad- vantages lie with the Government
works. While the Darwin works ap- j
pear more comprehensive, I was struck with the compactness of the works and their facilities at Wyndham. More-
over, cattle can be driven on the hoof ' right to the works, practically without loss of condition. On the other itiand, the cattle for the Darwin works will have to be railed 200 miles from the , Katherine River, after being driven a
greater Journey on the hoof than is the case at Wyndham. It is essential ba freezing that the animals shall not
in any way be injured or bruised, and this fact again is in favor of our site, which excludes any railage costs and probable reduction in the value of many beasts through trucking injur-
. Did you observe any local activities
"No. Outside Vestey Bros.' opera- tions, the place seemed very quiet. Wages are high there,' but the cost of living equally so. For about 200 miles inland from the port the country is mostly stunted forest growth and of rocky formation, with a light surface soil of a sandy nature. South of that area the country opens out into more fertile regions."
On the return journey from the Northern Territory pori Messrs. Weil- and Tindale left the Bambra at Broome and essayed Ute journey overland to
Marble Bar, via Roebuck and La Orange Bays.
We remembered there were some
Hereford cattle up that way, and asked the inspector how they were doing.
"At the Roebuck Bay Station we saw hundreds of these depasturing on an open plain in front of the homestead, and these reds, with bright white faces, formed a picturesque sight. Mr. Male (Streeter and Male) is a great admirer of the Hereford, and has bred some high-class cattle up there. Un- fortunately, ticks were introduced into this herd during last year, and in con-
sequence the condition of 'thc cattle
has been somewhat impaired. Bulls from these herds, however, should prove a valuable acquisition for' the northern tick-infested'areas, as they will thus be immune from the injuries resulting from tick infestation. -The Herefords are more suitable than the' Shorthorns as beef cattle for the rough, rangy country along the coast in that
locality, being hardier animals. If the breeders further Improve their stock, thc beasts should be an asset to thc State."
What grasses did you notice there? "Couch, African Wonder and Rhodes grass have been fçeely planted, and are growing luxuriantly without any irrigation. Thousands of acres in the immediate neighborhood, at present waterless and devoid of grasses, could be transferred from a condition of wil- derness to a land of productiveness by' introducing suitable grasses and stock- ing Up. We called at Edgar and Biddle's station, and were made most welcome. This station runs about 100 miles
along the sea coast. We saw there many hundreds of bullocks, many in prime condition, awaiting an outlet to the southern markets. At La Grange Bay the site for the erection of a dip to act in conjunction with the one at Wallal was inspected and approved, and the work of constructing the dip is now under way. With the exception of a small portion of Hamilton and James' properties adjoining, all the country south is free from tick. The run to Wallal was all fairly good go- ing. From Wallal, going south, the country changes to spinifex and lighter grasses, and is chiefly stocked with sheep as far as Nullagine, when flat open plains are roe» with. There are some very imo pastoral runs at Roy Hill and Ethel Creek Stations, the catlin being in remarkably good con- dition. At the latter station Red Poll bulls have been introduced. It will be interesting to ascertain later the adapt- ability of this breed of cattle for our southern pastoral areas. The natural pasture" was abundant, and the carry- ing capacity of this country could be increased very considerably by the provision of increased water supply. One cannot travel through the im- mense territory in the north of this State without realising that we have a heritage which in course of time should rel ¡ove us of any anxiety as to our financial obligations."
Did you encounter evidence of any fresh slock pests or diseases during your travels?
"No, but the Buffalo fly has been giving some trouble. This fly was in- troduced from the Northern Territory, where il appears to h:ive originally been imported from the East Indies by shipments of. buffaloes. These flies have become a groat pest along the coast from the Northern Territory to Wyndham. Travelling in swarms, they attack the cattle, causing great annoy- ance. They usually cluster in large numbers on a small area of tbc skin, producing sores which irritate the animals, causing them to rub against hard surfaces, resulting in extensive abrasions and consequent loss in con- dition. Experiments require to be car- ried out to discover an effective means of combating the fly. The Kimberley disessa in horses occupied my atten- tion, particularly in the West Kimbcr lev, where thc disease is still preva- lent on the coast-line. This is due to the pastures being difficult of assimila- tion owing to their coarse and indi- gestible nature. Further inland the disease appears to be steadily de- creasing, particularly on the flat lands, where lighter grasses abound. To avoid losses_amon?rst teamsters' horses the majority of the station-owners and carriers are now using donkeys. Those hardv little animals travel backwards and forwards, suffering no ill-effects from the change of food."