Life gets more interesting every day at Koramba Farm.

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Finally, after getting my strength back, Kerrie and I decided to have a go at trimming some more of the overgrown trees around the camp vicinity.

We intended to just spend an hour or two to do something physical and make a start on the next tidy up phase.

After cutting one of the rotting power poles, that was being used as a border around the driveway to the car park, and stacking it up ready to set fire to it, we moved around to the half acre or so of overgrown land opposite the camp kitchen and mess room.

Ready for a great bon fire tonight.

Ready for a great bon fire tonight.

Life's much easier with a chain saw. "Boy Toys"

Life’s much easier with a chain saw. “Boy Toys”

There was quite a bit of big stuff round here and some of the lovely old trees had been killed by a thick thorny vine which I think might be Smilax or Barbed Wire Vine. This thing has used the good tree as a sort of life support, twisting itself around the trunk and then high into the upper branches. The thick wood trunks of the vines had almost become part of the host tree and many of the camp trees that would have once been quite beautiful are now dead, throttled by this ugly and horrible looking thing.

So Martyn’s chainsaw saw action in a big way as vines and dead trees began to cover the ground.

Poor Kerrie!

She started trying to pull the large branches and thorny vines to a central location with a worried look that seemed to ask the obvious question, “You expect US to move this forest?”

It was about then that Shannon the 22 year old mechanic strolled over.

“I’ll get some machinery to push all this away”, he stated through his ever present grin.

Shannon is always smiling and willing to help

Shannon is always smiling and willing to help

I showed him what was happening to the trees with the vines and pointed out how many of the surrounding plants were not actually trees at all but thick clumps of thorny vine with a dead tree in the middle.

Shannon’s simple answer was what he called his “Ultimate Gardening Implement”. “All gardening should be done this way”, he said as he fired up the old International Bulldozer!

Shannon purchased this awesome little machine himself through eBay after the clutch was burnt out by people who had no idea how to operate it. It had sat for a few years in a paddock. Shannon bought it and then spent three months sourcing parts for it and fixing it up.

He’s going to take it up to his own 250 acre farm outside Glenn Innes but since fixing it up it’s already done about 80 hours work on the farm.

It was a beautiful thing to watch as Shannon expertly drove the little dozer into dead tree after dead tree easily uprooting them and then pushing huge piles of the overgrowth into windrows in one of the adjoining paddocks to later be set alight. All the while he seemed to have this look of sheer enjoyment on his face, as if he was relishing the opportunity to put the little dozer through its paces.

 

I kept chain sawing more and more branches, some revealing native beehives thick with beautiful bush honey.

Nothing seems a bother to Shannon. Even though it was his day off he’d already fixed the head gasket on a tractor earlier in the morning. He’s one of those young fellas who’s worth his rather substantial weight in gold on any operation. He never seems to complain, never whines, is always willing and is highly competent with an obvious large helping of practicality and common sense.

Shannon also loves the farm. He’s a hive of knowledge about its history and its current and future operations. He told us of places on the property we hadn’t yet explored and how the vast areas of land that are not producing cotton (that we thought were lying wasted) would possibly soon run many head of cattle again as they did prior to the long drought.

We hope we have the opportunity to see this happen.

It seems that nothing is a bother to the people on the farm. We didn’t ask Shannon to help he just merrily chipped in. We’d also been talking to Darryl, the Farm Manager, a few days earlier and we asked if we could get rid of the old power poles lining the camp driveway.

The old telegraph poles that line the driveway were rotting... so of course we wanted to change them.

The old telegraph poles that line the driveway were rotting… so of course we wanted to change them.

These would have been rather nice when they were first put here many years ago but they’re now distorted, twisted and rotten as they’ve moved into an advanced state of decay. They now make the area look untidy and without them we could make the mowing of the grass a much easier task.

We want to be able to leave the place easy to manage when we move on so that one person can maintain the area easily with just the ride on mower.

Darryl agreed with us but wanted to retain a defining area for the driveway so we suggested using some of the hundreds of discarded 350ml irrigation pipes from Siberia, the farm dump.

These would be uniform in size, straight and won’t decay in the future.

He liked the idea and so as we were clearing up a couple of the workers turned up saying that Darryl had told them to organise the removal of the power poles and to get as many of the irrigation pipes here as we needed.

Sure enough, by the end of the day, there were the delivered irrigation pipes.

In the meantime (and seeing it was Sunday afternoon) Shannon had taken a break to do some fishing so we decided to check out the old Corenda homestead way out on the South Western boundary of the property.

We drove through mile after mile of cotton land in various stages of preparation for the next planting in September and then past large tracks of land planted in wheat. There must be three or four thousand acres just in wheat and, at this early growth stage, it’s a spectacular sight.

The green this time is wheat. It's planted in non cotton areas. They have planted this in every little corner of the farm.

The green this time is wheat. It’s planted in non cotton areas. They have planted this in every little corner of the farm.

It’s a bright, almost iridescent green that seems to shimmer in the sunlight. It’s a carpet of green stretching across large paddocks and it’s an awesome visual.

 

From Cotton to Wheat

From Cotton to Wheat

We eventually came upon the Corenda homestead and we were amazed at the beautiful spot that we’d found ourselves in. It was once a stand alone farm with stock yards and machinery sheds of its own.

Corenda House, one of 4 farms that make up Koramba.

Corenda Homestead. Corenda is one of the 4 farms that make up Koramba.

The home itself has been substantially renovated and has beautiful large surrounding verandas.

Fully screened veranda's around the house.

Fully screened veranda’s around the house.

The old house has had some renovations.

The old house has had some renovations.

The old meat shed is still in remarkable condition and the hanging rack is still there where the carcasses of sheep were once prepared for farm consumption. Even the old butcher’s chopping block is still there.

The old meat shed has had the roof replaced and is still in good condition.

The old meat shed has had the roof replaced and is still in good condition.

The butcher's chopping block and the hanging rack are still there and in good condition

The butcher’s chopping block and the hanging rack are still there and in good condition

The old laundry is still in great condition and all around the house and the yard and gardens are reminders of what once would have been a self sufficient property.

A short distance from the house are the old shearer’s quarters and apart from a collapsed section of roof and some missing walls the quarters are still in surprisingly good nick.

The old shearers quarters.

The old shearers quarters.

The shearer’s quarters shower facility, laundry and out houses complete with drop toilets are all still in quite reasonable condition.

The shearer's showers and old drop dunnies are still in good nick

The shearer’s showers and old drop dunnies are still in good nick

The piece de resistance though is the shearing shed.

The Shearing Shed

The Shearing Shed

This structure would have seen many thousands of sheep pass through its sheep runs and shearing stands and it’s easy to imagine the hive of activity that would have been the norm here. It’s easy to visualize the shearers at their stands, the roustabouts clearing fleeces and spreading them on the classing tables for the classers to grade the wool before being thrown into the cages. They would be taken from here to the old wooden wool press for pressing into bales before being stored ready for shipping. The old wool press is still there although largely destroyed by white ant now.

The old wool press has been eaten by white ants.

The old wool press has been eaten by white ants.

The bed that would have once housed the engine which ran the shears is still there although it would have been a long time since the engine was in place. The electric motors that would have replaced it are still there.

You can almost hear the shears and the sheep.

You can almost hear the shears and the sheep.

That unmistakably pleasant smell of oily unprocessed wool still pervades the whole shed.

Wool fleece is still laying on the floor.

Wool fleece is still laying on the floor.

What a shame that this once bustling old building is falling quietly, molecule by molecule into the ground from whence it came. It makes you yearn to DO something to save it – but WHAT!

What is she thinking? Soaking up the peace and tranquility of the Corenda Homestead backyard.

What is she thinking? Soaking up the peace and tranquility of the Corenda Homestead backyard.

All round the property the wildlife abounds. Birds are everywhere, Kangaroos are almost in plague proportions even a Boar, Sour and 6 piglets could be seen scurrying across one of the paddocks. An Emu hurried on its way to who knows where and all the while the silence and peace enveloped the whole area.

Wild pigs racing through the scrub.

Wild pigs racing through the scrub.

The property itself is difficult to access and I’d say it would be completely cut off at the lightest of rain. Still, it was an amazing afternoon.

Driving back around the cotton fields we could see the boys working the tractors and we could see the contrasting patchwork of wheat next to ploughed cotton fields.

Along the tops of the giant reservoirs we spotted hundreds of thousands of water birds. They were in huge quantities, like moving clouds over the water surface. We could see Herons, Terns, Gulls, Sea Eagles, Pelicans, Black Swans, Ducks, Cormorants and others.

Water birds of every variety.

Water birds of every variety.

Making our way back past the Gin the colours of the wheat fields contrasted with the colour of the cotton modules awaiting processing.

The green wheat against the white wool bales at the gin.

The green wheat against the white wool bales at the gin.

Returning to the camp in the late afternoon we lit up the pile we had made from one of the rotten power poles and sat contentedly watching the sun go down and the amazing array of stars appear as the fire enveloped us with its warm glow.

 

There is nothing like a roaring bon fire.

There is nothing like a roaring bon fire.

Truly this is an amazing place!