Welcome back to Dampier Downs

Host: Dampier Downs Station
Written by Anne Marie Huey – Owner, Dampier Downs Station.

Well, this certainly came around fast. It feels like only a few weeks ago I was putting the final touches to last year’s blogs, but here I am again. In truth, I scratched my head a bit as to what to write about this year as we are still enjoying the tail end of the wet and our season has yet to start in earnest.

The dry season is when all the action happens. The days are filled with never-ending jobs, whether it be checking bores, mustering, or working cattle through the yards. All the social events also tend to occur during the dry which makes it a very busy time of year. As a result every station develops a list of ‘wet season jobs’. These are jobs that need to be done but no-one ever seems to find time for during the year.

Some of the wet season jobs on our list this year included putting a roof over the helicopter hanger, installing a new water tank at the homestead, and putting a fence around our house to keep the poddies at bay and protect our newly installed garden.

1.1 copyFinishing off the roof on the helicopter hanger.

Of course, there is also all the general maintenance that must be done before the year starts. Vehicles and machinery need to be serviced and repaired, fences fixed, and roads and tracks graded to allow for access.

1.2 copyExample of our ‘wet season job’ board. Not everything will necessarily get done this week, but helps to have a plan.

The wet season also brings its own challenges. At the first hint of storms either the internet or the telephone tend to go out – sometimes both at once. Getting a technician in to fix the problems can be interesting, particularly with 110 kilometres of wet, boggy road to negotiate.

Getting around the property can also be problematic. Fortunately, bores no longer need to be checked and/or pumped every few days, but phosphorus needs to be fed out to our cattle. Our country is highly deficient in phosphorus, which is an important mineral for our cows. Phosphorus plays an integral role in milk production and is also critical for young, growing cattle, particularly last year’s weaners and heifers.

Then there is the planning for the upcoming year. Late last year we were fortunate to be supported by our local Landcare group, Rangelands NRM, who came out and spent a few days helping us develop a property management plan. Despite our best efforts, we do have a few problem areas – country in poor land condition due to historical overgrazing and erosion issues caused by the installation of roads and tracks. With the help of the team at Rangelands NRM we have come up with a plan to begin to address these issues and eventually bring the county back into equilibrium again.

1.3 copyScrub packing a gully and installing an erosion bund to stop the problem getting any worse.

It was also great to have Mike’s nieces, Emma and Peta, home for the school holidays. You will be hearing more from Peta later in the week.

All in all, it is shaping up to be another busy year. I hope you enjoy the journey.