|Travelling Australia - Journal 2009|
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|29 July to 1 August 2009 - Charleville|
Charleville is the main service centre for pastoral properties in South-Western Queensland. Tourism is also regarded as an important business.
Charleville also processes feral goats for export to Indonesia; animals are slaughtered in accordance with Muslim religious requirements. We were told a feral goat is valued at about $50 because of this business. There is also a processing plant for kangaroo meat exported to Russia after being shot around Charleville, but this business has been curtailed by a Russian decision to stop importing meat which has not been slaughtered in a processing plant. This decision, taken on the grounds that carcasses may not have been correctly handled by shooters, has applied to meat from six or seven other countries as well as Australian kangaroo.
The Warrego River flows past Charleville; floods have caused severe damage in the past and a levee has been constructed to prevent damage in future floods. The levee is a bank for some of its length and a vertical wall about two metres high for other parts. The road to Quilpie and Augathella passes through a gap in the wall.
|The levee wall beside the road designed to keep out the Warrego River when it floods; other sections of the levee are
earthen banks but a wall is used near buildings.|
|Warrego River flowing peacefully past Charleville. During
previous floods the river has washed away houses in the town.|
The weather during our stay was consistent; each day was bright and sunny with a cool to cold intermittent wind for five or ten minutes followed by calm for an hour or more. Nights were cloudless and cold with temperatures of 1 to 3 degrees recorded and ice on the caravan roof at sunrise on at least one occasion.
The pastoral property (Thurlby) we are staying on runs tours to show visitors around. The driver/tour guide was the owner's wife who took us to the three major sections of the property. Around the caravan park was red loam mulga country where cattle feed on the trees and not on grass, since there isn't any. But leaves on a full-size (10-15 metre tall) mulga are too high for cattle to reach. For immediate use trees are bulldozed so cattle can reach the leaves; for long term use bulldozed trees are left to sucker into two metre high shrubs with leaves at cattle browsing height. A form of Emu Bush, locally known as Turkeybush, spreads over the ground to about half a metre under the mulga. Nothing eats Turkeybush so it is spreading.
A second part of the property carries brigalow and gidgee on country which is hillier in parts and much rockier. This part of the property has considerable ground cover plants and was once renowned for the quality of wool from sheep grazed here thirty or forty years ago when this was sheep property. Attempts are being made to encourage grass to grow for pasture on this land. The third part of the property is along the Ward River; grey-black clay river flats carry Mitchell grass and gidgee (this is the soil and vegetation found around Longreach and used to such good effect by generations of pastoralists).
The tour spent some time dealing with fresh water supplies, from bores, around the property. Stock watering arrangements suitable for sheep had proved inadequate for larger cattle and the owners have put a lot of effort into ensuring water is available for the stock. Their aim is to drought proof the property after experiencing the devastation of the 2002 drought during which cattle and trees died.
Kangaroos are widespread over the property and emus were common on the river flats. When internal fences are replaced a simple cattle fence using star pickets and vertical spreaders on plain wire, without barbs, is installed. These fences hold cattle but don't impede native animals. We saw a wallaroo hop through one of these fences; its head passed between the wires which spread to allow the animal's body through.
The three hour tour was comprehensive and interesting. Often an explanation relevant to Thurlby explained things we had seen in past weeks on our travels.
We extended our stay from three days to five days so we could fit in everything we wanted to do in and around Charleville. Large, well-laid out sites make this a most pleasant park.
|Part of Charleville shopping centre.|