How do you blow off steam on a cattle station?

Host: Abingdon Downs Station
Written by Barry Keough – Owner, Abingdon Downs.

During mustering season things get pretty busy and days are long and hard.

When there is the odd day off everyone likes to relax, catch up on washing, and go fishing and swimming. Our river is everyone’s playground; we do have crocodiles, but they are freshwater and not a threat. Everyone aims to catch the elusive freshwater barramundi, sometimes a very hard feat, but mostly we catch freshwater catfish. Those who don’t know catfish often associate catfish as being muddy, bottom feeding, ugly fish, however our catfish are beautiful to eat, some preferring them over barra (what?!). We get the odd black bream and when we do they go straight on the coals at the river wrapped in alfoil with lemon and butter. Easter Hole is one of our favourite water holes and is the closest to the homestead so it always gets a visit on days off.

4.1 The very popular Easter Hole on sunset copyThe popular Easter Hole on sunset.

4.2 Gabby, Cushla and Caro wetting a line (and the palate) at Boundary Water Hole copyGabby, Cushla, and Caro wetting a line (and the palate) at Boundary Water Hole.

Not only do we fish for barra, catfish, and whatever else we can catch, sometimes throughout the year we will throw pots into Alligator Water Hole (aptly named for the sheer number of freshwater crocodiles in there) to try to catch some cherabin, otherwise known as freshwater prawns. Sometimes we have success but most of the time it is a daily battle with crocs who are forever trying to get the bait in the pots.

4.3 Cherabins - large freshwater prawns found in some of our water holes. copyCherabins – some large freshwater prawns found in some of our water holes.

As Queenslanders we are proud supporters of QLD in the Rugby League State of Origin matches. We’ll invite the neighbours and whatever visitors we have floating around Abingdon to watch the game with us. I’m pretty sure we had nearly 50 people here one night. If we can “wing it” and knock off early we all stock the eskies and make “snacks” before the game starts before a night of hooting and hollering. Doesn’t happen always but it’s great when we can.

4.4 Pizza's for State Of Origin Rugby Grand Final night copyPizzas for State of Origin Rugby League Grand Final night.

It’s certainly not all hard work and no play during working days. We have the occasional “goofs” who keep everyone entertained and if you can sneak in an early afternoon knock off at mustering camp you might be able to throw a line in somewhere. It’s all about taking opportunities when you can, such as when the mustering mob have a quick spell at lunchtime the chopper pilot might fly over to a nearby waterhole and try to snag a quick barra.

4.5 Leigh and Brayden in their spare time copyLeigh and Brayden in their spare time.

4.6 Quick flick at Boundary Water Hole for Cheyne, the chopper pilot copyQuick flick at Boundary Water Hole for Cheyne, the chopper pilot.

We’ve had plenty of fun times. We’ve had karaoke nights, plenty of BBQ and pool nights, bonfires down on the river bed at night, and clay pigeon shooting matches. We’ve driven 110km to our nearest town just to have a counter meal and a feed to turn around and come home again. We’ve spent many a weekend camping at the river, to name a few. In true “ringer” style we work hard and play hard!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaking the most of the river.