“Hello Chris and Anne, it is good to see you both again” I said greeting them as they entered the apartment, which was a lot cooler than outside.
“Good to see you again Lloyd, and my how much has changed since we last saw each other” Chris replied.
“Thank you so much for the wonderful campsite that you have provided for us, it is absolutely magnificent” Anne added. “You are both most welcome” I replied smiling.
Matt handed out cold drinks to everyone, while Greg retrieved the meat from the fridge, and began cooking on the BBQ out in the patio. “So, what are your plans for the station?” Anne asked me.
“Well as you know, we had a category 5 cyclone pass right over us not long ago, and we have cleaned up the ruins of the damaged buildings, both here and up on the hill, plus the old beach shack.
I have decided to keep all accommodation well away from the homestead compound. With that in mind, work has already been completed on the new backpacker’s hostel, that is located 4 kms south of here, just after the sand dunes and before Black Moon Cliffs. With 16 twin rooms and two quad rooms, there is plenty of space for them, and each room has views of the ocean.
It has indoor and shaded outdoor cooking facilities, male and female ablutions, and a large shaded outdoor social area, with a campfire pit, and we plan to gravel the track from the backpacker’s all the way to the Visitors centre, for easy two-wheel drive vehicle access.
We will be doing the same on the main track, from the visitor’s centre north to where we will be building six guest cottages, that will be built on the east side of the track 100 metres apart, and situated between Maggie’s and Elle’s beaches, 6 kms from here, also for easy two-wheel drive vehicle access” I announced.
“Well that is some major changes, and I see you have some new camping markers, and direction signs” Chris replied.
“Yes, we will be having stricter rules, regarding vehicle access to the beach, and where guests can and cannot camp. There is a total of 180 camping sites over 7 location throughout the station, once they are occupied that is it, we will not accept any more campers” I stated, as I retrieved some copies of the new maps and handed them around.
“Wow boss, this is very impressive, I see now why you had us note down the coordinated for each camp site” Matt commented.
“So, does this mean that, it is still first ones in get the choice of camp sites, and those later will get what they are allocated?” Anne asked me.
“That pretty well sums it up, guests can request anarea, but if it’s already occupied, they will have to be allocated a different site. From now on, all adult visitors are to provide photo ID, not just the driver of the vehicle, which is to be recorded on the registration sheets, along with the vehicle registration, and the camp site that you have allocated them.
We already have a list of 23 people who are banned from entering the station, as they illegally gained access, by crashing through a fence, and having wild parties in the owner’s house and on the beach below. When I am not on the station, as I own a farm just north of Northampton, Matthew Price here is the senior Caretaker in charge of the station.
We are currently destocked, so the lads will be working on improvements to camping facilities, and other things, you may have noticed some picnic tables up near 14-mile, we will be having them scattered along the camp areas up and down the coast on the station.
I will be here until the new fence and gate are installed at the north end, then I will be heading home. I will be contacting the two tour groups in a day or two, that use our backpacker facilities, to let them know that they can resume overnight stopovers at the station, on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but that will be the only visitors permitted on the station, until we have completed a few more improvements.
I am hoping that we will be ready to reopen just before Easter, for the start of the tourist and dry season” I announced,
“We noticed new signs on the way in, do the visitors need to obey those rules posted on the signs?” Chris asked me.
”Yes, they are to be strictly enforced, with no exceptions, no matter who they are. There will be twice daily patrols made by either Matt or Greg, to make sure that the new rules are strictly followed, they are there to protect the environment, and to keep the indigenous land owners happy, as they will be making the occasional visit, to inspect the property, as will the Parks and Wildlife rangers.
Lastly, I have a portable safe for you to install in your caravan, for the storage of all fees collected, and Matt will come and retrieved that and the registration sheets from you every two days” I said, and Greg arrived with all the cooked meat, and we sat down to eat.
The next day, I called Dave Henderson, to let him know that I would be on the station for at least another week, and he said that he had everything under control, and not to worry. I also contacted the two tour groups, and they were very pleased with the news, that they could come back to the station for overnight stays.
With the phone calls out of the way, I redirected the station number to Matt’s Satellite phone, and I headed down to the machinery shed, having mentioned during breakfast, that we would be digging and carting gravel from the visitor’s centre, down to where the backpacker’s hostel is now located.
Three days later, we had a good quality gravel road, that had been compacted down with the loader and the truck, for 4 kilometres, and we included a parking area, for vehicles, beside the building. With that out of the way, we now concentrated on getting the north entry post and rail fence and gates completed, so that I could make the journey home to the farm.
When it was completed, we removed the old fence and gates from the main entry and the north entry, to reveal the new entry fence and gates, and the new signage. We had changed the station message, to announce that the station would be open for campers, and limited backpacker accommodation, on the Thursday, the day before the Easter long weekend.
I had long discussions with Matt and Greg about procedures to follow, regarding all visitors to the station, and they were confident that they would be able to handle it ok. Two days before I was due to leave the station, I headed up to the 14-mile camp, very early in the morning, to check in with Chris and Anne, and I was surprised to see another vehicle and caravan parked next to their campsite.
“Hello Lloyd, this are our good friends Rebecca and Troy Harris, they have just come back from a caravanning holiday in the Northern Territory” Chris said making the introductions.
“Would you be interest in a position as caretakers of the south end of the station?” I asked the visitors straight away, and both couples were surprised at my sudden offer.
“Yes, we would love to do that” Troy said smiling, and Rebecca nodded her head in agreement.
“Good, come down to the Visitor Centre tomorrow some time, and I will show you the site that I have in mind for your camp. By the way, Chris and Anne, and this now applies to you Troy and Rebecca, I will be paying each caretaker couple, $100 per week to assist with your food costs during the tourist season, starting from next Monday.
I know it’s usually a volunteer role, but I think you deserve some compensation for your hard work to come” I replied, before heading off in an easterly direction and then south down another station track open to station staff only. When I returned to the Visitor centre, I found the lads in the office in deep discussion, and Angus was on Matt’s lap, snoozing”.
“Traitor Angus” I commented, as I entered and took a seat, with the lads laughing at my comment.
“We will have caretakers for the South end, as of tomorrow, good friends of Chris and Anne, their names are Troy and Rebecca Harris, and I will be showing them where I want to put them tomorrow morning.
What do we have left of cement, so we can build a caravan slab for them” I said to the lads.
“We have plenty available, and if we start on it in an hour, we could get it completed before dark” Matt commented.
“Good, let’s get started on it then, as I want to build it just 50 metres south of the backpackers, on the East side of the track. For now, they can use the facilities at the backpacker’s, until we install a bathroom, water tank and gazebo for them” said to the lads.
“We have a smaller poly water tank behind the shearing shed, that we could use, until we get a bigger one in place” Matt suggested.
“Perfect, right let’s get going then” I responded, and we headed out the door, leaving Angus behind, with a topped-up water and food bowls.
Once we had everything we needed, I climbed into the cab of the loader, and headed south, with Matt and Greg following in the Colorado, with the trailer full of supplies and equipment, attached, as soon as they had half drained and disconnected the poly tank, and loaded it onto the trailer, in an upright position and strapped it down.
Once at the chosen site, I went to get some buckets of white sand for the concrete, while the lads got to work with setting up the edging. When I had returned, I offloaded the sand, and using the post hole attachment, I began to drill post holes on either side of the access track, just as the new gravel tack turned to a compacted sand track, about five metres before where the caravan slab will be.
Once those were dug, 6 in total on each side, I went to help the lads with the laying of the concrete slab for the caravan and a gazebo, which would be added later, and we used the water in the poly tank as our water supply for making the concrete.
We completed the work, just before dark, and I was happy with the results, which included anchor points for the caravan to be tied down, with it being set back about 5 metres from the track, with enough room for an awning, to cover the remainder of the concrete area.
Early the next day, straight after breakfast, we headed back down to the backpacker hostel, with post and rails and wire, and we commenced building the short fence, that marks the start of the south end camping area, and we had it half completed, just before lunch time, when two vehicles arrived, one belonging to Chris, the other belonging to Troy, which was not towing his caravan.
“Wow, this is big change since the cyclone, very impressive” Chris commented as they looked at the Backpacker’s hostel.
“Thanks, we hope that the guests will like it” I commented, when I walked up to them from the fence line.
“You have been very busy”, Troy commented as he looked at the concrete slab nearby.
“Yes, it will be fairly cured within a week, so you can put your caravan on it then, say a week from this Monday, in the meantime, you can park alongside the backpackers, and use their facilities for showers, toilets and laundry” I responded.
“What’s with the fancy entry?” Rebecca asked me.
“Just keeping the theme going with the two main gates and the camping entry at 14-mile, this as you see, marks the start of 4wd access only, and the start of the south end camping area, as there is no camping between here and Elle’s Beach” I replied.
“I have the caravan parked near the visitor’s centre, as I wanted to check the road conditions before coming down here with it” Troy commented.
“Well it is up to you, if you like you can park up next to the owners house on the hill, and use the facilities there, or park next to the workers cottage behind the visitor’s centre and use those facilities, until you are ready to move to the new site.
Once we have finished this fence, we will be starting on laying down a gravel road from here upto the visitor’ s centre, for easy 2wd access to the backpacker’s, so you can wait until that is finished if you like” I mentioned to Troy and Rebecca.
“I think we will just park next to the workers cottage thanks, and just wait for the road to be completed” Rebecca answered.
Once the fence was completed, and the lads were started on building the gravel road, I packed up my belongings, and Angus, and we made the long journey south back to the farm. Stopping off in Carnarvon, I arranged and paid for the construction of two more gazebos, with solar panels, ceiling fan and light, work and kitchen benches, and storm shutters, and forthem to be delivered to the station, along with two bar fridges and a large BBQ.
I also organised for a transportable bathroom, identical to the one at 14-mile, to be built and be delivered to the station, and the commencement of the construction of the first three guest cottages. Once that was done,I continued the journey south, arriving in the late afternoon, two days after leaving the station.
Pleased to be back home again, I called Dave Henderson, to let him know that I was back, and during discussions with him, he informed me that he knows of a local farmer, who is looking for more land to lease, and that he had taken up the offer, and that Dave had mentioned my farm as another possible location.
I informed Dave that I would consider it, and asked where this other farmer is located, and I was told he is based at another lease on Brooks Road, Ajana, approximately 48 kilometres NNE of us, and just 4 kms east of the main highway. I next ask what Dave planned to do when his farm is leased out, as he was still quite young, and he said he hadn’t put much thought into it yet, and he had to consult his wife Sue, before they decide.
I suggested that they consider moving to the station and work for me as a senior station hand, and Dave said he would discuss it with Sue and get back to me. I estimated Dave to be in his late 30’s, and I don’t recall meeting his wife before, so I was sure that they would be up to the challenge of working on a cattle station.
After the phone call, I decided that if they do accept the position, that they can have the main house on the hill, overlooking the ocean, as their residence, and that I would by a new Colorado, for Dave to use.
Two days later, Dave and Sue arrived on my farm, smiling, and I suspected that they were happy that things were improving for them, as I welcomed them, and invited them into the main house, were I prepared some morning tea.
Copyright April 2019 Preston Wigglesworth All Rights Reserved