|15th – 22nd September, 2013
We are at the end of our first week in Burra.
We are actually 12ks from Burra on a 20,000 acre sheep station called BALDINA STATION.
The set up for the van is great. There is a gravel slab to park on with plenty of room to set up the awning and associated shade clothes and a camp fire area as well.
Connections to power and beautiful sweet tank water are right there as well.
Camping here is free so long as you give a couple of hours a day helping out in return. This is certainly not hard to do and we consider it a pleasure rather than a chore.
We took a couple of days to set everything up and to get to know the Managers, Kobie and Natalie and their two children Jessie and Lilly. Jessie goes into town each day to attend school and he is 7. Lilly is only 3 and goes to playgroup on Mondays when Natalie works in the visitor info centre and swimming lessons on Thursday.
To start our adventure off Rob went with Kobie to do a trough run. This is where you go out to all the outer paddocks, with broom in hand, and clean out the water troughs and make sure the automatic taps are working and to adjust the windmills if necessary. This takes around 3 hours and at the moment is only done twice a week but as the weather warms up it will be on a more regular basis.
Then it was off for a walk to have a look at the shearing sheds and the old shearer’s quarters which are now just a pile of rubble as the white ants made a meal of it. It was quite a large structure with bunk rooms, lounge room, kitchen and an outside camp kitchen as well.
The shearing shed is a four stand affair with many pens both inside and out. It is built overlooking the creek which runs through the property from the furthest end to the front gate (which is about 3 kilometres from the homestead).
There are three houses on the property, one for the managers which was built in the 1960’s, another one that is used by the University of Adelaide as a base for their research programs in the area (currently it is the pygmy shingle backed lizard) and of course the homestead itself.
The “BIG” house comprises ten bedrooms, two kitchens, two bathrooms in the house with a further two out near the pool. It has all the usual rooms associated with a house of the era with parlours and studies and morning rooms and day rooms, formal lounge room and ball room (which are now used as a conference centre).
As well as all these attributes the homestead also boasts its own butcher shop, bakery, blacksmith and ancillary work sheds.
All of the older structures, including the homestead itself, are built from local stone and have stood the test of time really well.
The next job on the agenda was mustering the sheep which were to go to market the next day.
Rob and Kobie took off on the trail bikes (pity, they don’t use horses anymore) and sometime later I looked out and here comes a mob of sheep with the dogs working them and the two blokes bringing up the rear.
Rob has now learnt how to gracefully come over the handlebars – twice – and to lay the bike down (not so gently) four times. What he now has to learn is that when you stop a bike you have to PUT YOUR FOOT on the GROUND Robert. LOL.
Seriously, he hasn’t been on a motor bike for some 37 years and back then it was just a little Yamaha 125, nothing like the big ag bikes that are out here. Practice Robert, practice. Oh, and just don’t call him Walter (as in Brennan – but between you and me he sure walks like him) LOL.
Anyway, they got the sheep into the pens ready for the truck to collect the following day and for Rob to go back to the van and attend to all the abrasions. Poor Robert. Giggle.
Kobie went to the sheep sales and bought 10 rams for this year’s breeding program, Poll Merinos, at a very reasonable (according to Kobie) cost of some $20,000.00. Glad I’m not footing the bill.
They also have five head of cattle which they are fattening up and also intend to breed up their own meat eventually.
It has taken us about six hours to mow the lawns (including a grass tennis court) and pull some weeds and whipper snipper all the rough areas around the big house, so I consider we have earned our keep this week already.
David Barker, the sixth generation Baker to be on Baldina, arrived on Friday night with his two children Alfie – 5 and Zellie – 3 for the weekend. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of history available about the Station as when the ownership passed from a batchelor Uncle to David’s branch of the family everything was destroyed as the old gent evidently didn’t trust anyone.
Kobie and Natalie took the weekend off and went down to Adelaide so Rob and I are filling in.
Feed the chooks and the mongrel rooster who attacks anyone that goes into the enclosure, collect the eggs, feed the five working dogs and let them out for a run and hope that you can get them back into their kennels when you are done cleaning them out and disinfecting them and feed the little western red orphan kangaroo it’s bottle twice a day. All good fun and we had no problems at all, the dogs even behaved themselves and came when called and I’m just glad that they knew which of them belonged in which kennel because apart from the mother red kelpie and her pup I wouldn’t have had a clue.
We had a nice evening last night when David and the kids came over to toast marshmallows on our camp fire. I was rather impressed with the manners of the children and the fact that they both have a really good imagination, something sadly lacking in a lot of youngsters these days. We played shop, there were fairies in our hair and horses that can jump to the moon and you catch them and lots more besides.
The full moon is amazing out here and it’s a pity that my camera doesn’t do it justice, so I won’t bore you with inferior photos, just take my word for it……big and red on the horizon and shining like daylight fully risen. Just magic.
Today, Sunday, we took a drive out to Burra Creek Gorge to check out the camping area, which has some very nice areas all along the creek to camp and then we went over to Robertstown just to have a look. The only thing open there is the pub.
We did find an old grave yard which was obviously for the German residents of the area. Mostly were of children and date back to 1837.
Being such a beautiful day there were a lot of Bearded Dragons sunning themselves on the road but soon skedaddled out of the way when a vehicle came near.
One thing I have noticed in this area is the number of derelict and abandoned homesteads and houses all in various stages of decay. Those who have lost their roof suffer the worst of the weather and if they are made of mud brick, which a lot of them are, then the decay is rapid.
David has gone back to Adelaide and Kobie and Nat have come home.
All in all a great week and we are looking forward to next week when I am sure there will be more adventures for both of us.