Oh, it was hard to crawl out of bed the next morning! Once we did, we found the morning dew had been heavy and everything was wet, so we drew out our coffee and cold cereal while the tent dried.
This day’s plan was to head west to the town of Greenfell to
visit some Aussie friends Mike and Kathleen had made during the previous
season’s camping in N. Queensland. These nice people had invited Mike and
Kathleen to visit them at home, but graciously welcomed us to come as
well. It was a goodly drive, and the
farther west we drove, the flatter and drier the land became.
Arriving in Greenfell on a Sunday was reminiscent of our
arrival in the town of Texas up in the north of the province. The town was deserted and all the shops
closed. It was a surprisingly charming
town center, though, with some interesting storefronts that would have been fun
Mike and Kathleen’s friends’ new house was a bit outside of
town on a rise in a field that probably not long ago had been used for
grazing. A huge tree shaded a circular
driveway, but everything else seemed baked by the sun. The house itself was fairly new and combined
their residence with a still-evolving bed-and-breakfast enterprise. We were made quite welcome and given
pleasant rooms of our own at one end of the house, which opened onto a big
shared living and dining area.
Colin and Pippa, a couple in their 70s, were recently
retired from a 4400 acre farm on which they had run some 20,000 sheep, cattle,
and a few crops. Not long ago, they had turned
the farm over to their son, but all was not going smoothly…at least from Colin
and Pippa’s point of view. With fairly
short dispatch, the son had abandoned the sheep farming his parents had
sustained and passed on to him and shifted his attention to grass-feeding beef
cattle in six-month cycles in what he described as “a holistic system of
spoke-paddock rotation.” Colin made no
secret that he was sorely disappointed.
After lunch we went out to watch the son load 24 head of
cattle into a truck. On the way, Colin pointed out the boundaries of the farm. Afterward the cattle were sorted and loaded,
Colin and Pippa showed us the abandoned sheep shearing shed which still held
eight packed bales of fleece awaiting cleaning, sorting and packing, and Colin
demonstrated the how the shearing machine would work. I must admit I’d have loved to have seen an Aussie
sheep station in full operations.
We walked up a hill with Pippa to survey the land and
listened to her describe how their daughter-in-law – now mistress of their old
house – doesn’t want her to drop in to see her grandson without an appointment.
Clearly retirement was not proving to be
all it was cracked up to be.