From Thargomindah to Normanton

Host: NKL Contracting
Written by Kayde Jayne Lehman – Owner, NKL Contracting.

First stop post contracting was Naryilco station – an S. Kidman property tucked away in the most south western point of Queensland affectionately known as the ‘Channel Country’.  Like nothing we had ever seen before we endured dust storms, ate more flies than I care to remember, and became stranded after copping more rain in two months than they had had in the past two years. When it was hot it was hot, and when it was cold there was ice. The property ran around 6000 red santas (Santa Gertrudis) which not only seemed quite capable of mustering themselves at times but were surprisingly able to remain rolling fat on what look like no more but pebbled flats and sandy ridges.

Checking cattle in the floods at Naryilco 2010.

The rain had finally passed and the lakes of water disappeared, so we shod our horses and were straight into mustering, chasing the plane’s tail as it bombed mobs of cattle along the way.

This was our first time working with santas (and mustering planes) and to say the least our first time bronco branding. Yes bronco branding was still alive and well in the Channel Country and annual competitions were held at Windorah to bring out the best of the best. Back in the day, when pioneering settlers created their properties and homes on the vast tracts of lands in Australia, bronco branding became the most efficient way to brand and draft calves without yards or walking long distances. It involves a catcher riding a horse into a mob of cattle, roping a calf, and hauling it over to the ground crew who rope it’s legs to mark and brand it.

Bronco branding on Naryilco in the Channel Country.

When our bronco branding days were over we packed our gear and horses onto the truck and rolled 1800km north to our next adventure for a new experience. We had thrown caution to the wind and answered an ad in the Queensland Country Life for a couple’s position on Vanrook station. Located 150km north-east of Normanton, the extensive Menegazzo property not only boasted a quality line of red Brahmans, but some of the best fishing in the north. With a station crew and two contract crews moving all at once, time never stood still at Vanrook and needless to say we played as hard as we worked, especially when there was only one major event of the year . . . the Normanton rodeo and campdraft.

Mustering on Vanrook station near Normanton.

Three months into our new job at Vanrook, Nat, and I had a two week break in preparation for our wedding. We jumped in the car and started the 6 hour drive down the Savannah way to the Undara Lava tubes. Situated on Rosella Plains station near Mount Surprise, this gorgeous outback style ‘resort’ was developed after Gerry Collins, a fourth generation member of his pioneering cattle grazing family from Rosella Plains, applied to develop a tourist facility to showcase the Lava Tubes.

We celebrated with 110 of our closest friends and family surrounded by historic restored railway carriages and finishing the night around the camp fire. Then it was back to reality . . .

Getting married on Rosella Plains at Undara Lava tubes.