The calf scruffing

June 5, 2018

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It was late in the afternoon and I was with Dad driving around the mill run in the old “Willy’s Jeep”. The soft canvas sides of the old green jeep flapping slightly in the breeze as we drove along. Lady, the old sheep dog was hanging much of her body out the side, to get a good breeze and any exciting scents ahead, dodging the regular bushes flashing past, doing their best to poke their head in to the cab on the way thru. Dad wasn’t saying much in his usual fashion, as driving was pretty much a full time job on those old mill run tracks, dodging stumps and sticks to avoid punctures.

It had been a long day for a little bloke like me at five, as we had been out since first light and done the eastern side of the Curbur mill run, some call them a “bore run”, which was at least a hundred kilometres and most of that was very slow because of creek crossings, gates, cleaning troughs and checking watering points for stock water. We had collected two woolly wethers tied up in the small back section of the jeep that we had picked up on the run earlier during the day, which had obviously escaped that year’s shearing muster, and they would be dropped in the straggler paddock further down the road on the way home. There wasn’t much room in the back of the Willy’s soft-top, just enough for a dog, tool box and a few extras like an axe, fencing pliers and trough brush, and on this particular occasion the two woolly sheep took up any excess room available – hence Lady’s far flung stance.

Not far from Tin Hut mill we swung onto the “main road”, as we called it, because it was the main gravel road between Mullewa and Gascoyne Junction, and my old home Curbur Station just happened to be pretty much exactly halfway between the two outback towns. Well you could hardly call “The Junction” as we locals called it a town, because it was really only a few old corrugated iron sheds, in the 60’s and the junction pub, nestled just off the banks of the huge Gascoyne River east of Carnarvon, with its gigantic white ghost gums along its banks.

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