Yee-haw Cowboy!!!

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jun 18, 2011

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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Monday, December 13, 2010

So yesterday we finally left Hervey Bay... after 3 weeks of relaxing it was time to go. We all got very teary-eyed when it came time to say goodbye to Katrine and there were lots of hugs and tears when we had to leave.  Our next stop up the east coast is a place called Rockhampton, which is about 5 hours away. There has been a lot of flooding lately in Queensland, however we haven't seen any of it in Hervey Bay.... until our final day. It poured with rain from the moment we woke up and by the time we left town on the Greyhound bus the main highway which we were traveling on was shut because of flood water and we ended up sitting in a stranded bus while the water slowly rised around the tyres. Well to cut a long story short we got out of the flood water and our journey to Rockhampton took nearly 8 and a half hours rather than 5; we didn't end up getting to our accomodation until quite late. As soon as we got off the bus we could tell that we are entering a more tropical climate; it is so hot and humid here and there are countless bugs, lizards and huge toads everywhere.  

After a good nights sleep we were up with the lark to do an activity which we have come upon since we arrived in Australia and is the only reason we came to Rockhampton; we are going to spend the day at a cattle farm! Since we have been in Australia we have really wanted to do something different because all the towns we have been to so far have been very similar and we wanted to get away from the coast and experience the Australian outback, so as soon as we had found out about the farmstay we signed up for the day. The farm is an hour and a half inland from Rockhampton, so we were picked up at 6:30am and driven out into the outback to the farm. The scenery on the way there was so different from everything we have seen so far; huge rolling hills, mile after mile of lush green fields and nothing but clear blue sky as far as the eye could see. On the way we got chatting to the two other girls who were also visiting the farm and learnt all about farm life and the outback from the mini-bus driver; we found out off him that in Central Australia some of the farms are bigger than the size of Texas! We arrived at the farm at about 8am and as we pulled into the grounds we were immediately greeted by three huge kangaroos! Although the farm breeds cattle they also have plenty of other animals, including horses, chickens and countless kangaroos who roam the farm land. Still feeling a bit sleepy and disorientated we climbed out of the mini-bus and was greeted by a lady carrying a canvas shopping bag. She was one of the owners of the farm and had brought us one of their latest rescued animals to see, a lovely baby roorat; yep, before you ask it is a cross between a kangaroo and a rat and even though it sounds pretty awful it was actually very sweet. They are very rare and only come out at night but the farm had just been given the stranded roorat by a neighbour and we were very lucky to get to see it and we even got to hold it... it was a very good start to the day! Once we had all signed in we were taken to get some breakfast in the open-air kitchen and dining area; there was a log fire which heated a couple of billy-cans of hot water for your tea and coffee, a long skewer which you toasted your bread on above the flames and jugs of freshly milked creamy milk... it was one heck of a breakfast! As we were sitting eating the grandfather of the farm came and joined us and he made us all vegemite sandwiches, teaching us the art of how to make spread it with the right amount of butter, so that the vegimite is not to strong, and they were actually really tasty, not bad for my first taste of vegemite. After breakfast the day started properly as we went to get changed out of our own clothes and into some farm clothes, complete with boots and cowboy hats. There were only 6 of us visiting the farm that day; during the day the farm puts on activites and you are free to either join in or spend you time relaxing and pottering about.

The first activity of the day was horse-riding so we all went along together and were given a big wheelbarrow full of food to give to the horses before we got them saddled up. At the stables we met our farm-hand for the day, a real Ozzy called Trevor who reminded me of Crocadile Dundee. He led us to our allotted horse for the day and taught us how to saddle them up; Tom had a beautiful big grey horse called Spinifax and I had a brown horse called Barnaby. As soon as I got to Barnaby I was told that he was a grumpy old horse who liked to kick other horses, didn't listen to directions and was a bugger for constantly stopping and eating grass... so as you can imagine, considering I've never even sat on a horse before, I was feeling pretty nervous! The first thing that struck us both was how huge and powerful the horses were, they certainly weren't for mucking around on. We led our horses to the training yard and got taught the basics on how to ride them. When I say we were taught the basics I really mean we got the 'basics'; in Australia you don't get much guidance on things as they believe that the best way to learn something is to just do it, which means that you end us winging it most of the time. Now my lovely horse Barnaby turned out to be a real pain in the arse; he wouldn't turn where I wanted him to, he got annoyed at other horses and he took all my concentration to ride him. In the training yard I really struggled to ride him, but Trevor didn't bat an eyelid at me getting more and more flustered and before I knew it we were on our way out into the huge farm-yard fields.The ride we were going on would cover the whole length of the farm which was staggeringly big and took us about 3 hours to do a half circuit. Despite having such a difficult horse the ride was fantastic and we saw wild kangaroos and dozens of cattle roaming the fields. The views were incredible as we rode along... nothing but endless sky, grass and kangaroos. It was so perfect as we rode along chatting to each other as we really felt like we were getting a taste of the true Australian outback and even though Barnaby was a handful I felt really proud of myself for having mastered how to control him and he was quite happy to plod along behind the other horses for most of the ride. However, because of his bad temper, Trevor had warned all the other riders to keep a good distance back from my horse, but despite this warning one of the other horses came too close when we stopped at a gate and my horse reared up and got ready to kick the other horse. Luckily Trevor noticed in time and shouted at the top of his lungs for the other horse to move; afterwards he told us that if my horse had of kicked it probably would have kicked the girl riding the other horse in the head and she would have been very seriously hurt and would probably been airlifted out to hospital. After that incident I was very nervous and was looking forward to getting back to the stables; even though Barnaby was on the whole quite a pleasant horse I was quite tense following the kicking incident. Back at the stables we were taught how to take our horses saddles off and we also got the chance to shower and clean the horses. Once they were all clean and back in their stables we got cleaned up and headed for some lunch. Walking back to the dining area Tom told me that he had been quite nervous on his horse too because his horse was so big, nearly twice the size of all the others and powerful; I felt really bad because I hadn't been able to get any photos of Tom riding his horse because I didn't dare take my hands off the reins to get my camera.   

Our lunch was delicious and we got the chance to meet some of the farms other animals including a baby kangaroo called Natalie, a pink and grey bird called Pink Floyd who could talk and swear like a trooper and a little bird who had lost all its feathers because it had a skin disease (ahhh). After lunch was finished myself and one of the other girls went to collect eggs from the chicken coop and we managed to find one each. Once we got back from our little trip to the coop we all headed off for our next activity.... learning to ride a motorbike!! Yep, you read me right, learning to ride a motorbike!! Trevor took us over to a collection of small farm-yard motorbikes and we all got our helmets. Our lesson in motorbike riding was quite difficult because there was such a huge amount of new information to take but Trevor told us that within an hour we would be able to ride around the training track standing up and doing figures of 8!! I was so nervous and the girl next to me went as white as a sheet with fear but Tom just had a huge grin on his face the whole time! Next thing I knew I was getting pushed over to the start of the track and told to start my engine, then I had to show that I could change up to second gear before I was set free on the rest of the track. Once I could change all my gears I was off around the track and going up and down the gears evertime we went around a corner. Over my shoulder I could see Tom riding around the track like a pro, he took to his motorbike brilliantly. After a couple of circuits we were told to drive standing up around the whole length of the track, but I was convinced I wouldn't be able to do it so when I drove past Trevor he kept slapping my bum until I finally stood up for an entire circuit... not the most conventional teaching technique but it seemed to work! One by one we all got pulled into the side lane and taught how to do figures of 8 which we had to be able to do succesfully before we were allowed to go out on a longer drive, everyone did really well apart from me, who managed to fall off my bike and land in the big pile of grass. I didn't hurt myself but I was so annoyed at myself because up until that point I had done really well. After a couple of attempts I mastered the figure of 8 and we all had to ride down the long driveway, ride a tight corner around a steeldrum and come back to the startin point fast enough to go into fifth gear. Tom was fantastic and did a couple of runs down the driveway standing up in fifth gear the entire way!! I think he is a natural motorcycalist! I fell behind a bit from the main group because I stalled my bike a couple of times, but I absolutely loved riding the motorbike so each time I did something wrong and stalled it I was even more detirmined to get it right next time and by the end I had cracked it! Because we had all done so well up to that point we were allowed to go on a longer drive up through the farm-grounds to a lookout post called Sunset Point. It was only about 5 minutes away, but for those 5 minutes we all felt amazing! It was fantastic scooting up through the dirt tracks and we all arrived covered in red dust and grinning from ear to ear. On the way back we were told we didn't have to follow the guides anymore and were given free rein to go at our own pace, which meant that we all sped off, kicking up dust in our wakes. I have never felt the urge to ride a motorbike before, but having learnt how to do it at the farm I know now how great it feels!

It was almost time for us to leave the farm and head back to town, however before we left I had one thing which I had really wanted to do all day... milk the cows. We were running really short on time so Trevor ran us over to the cow-shed and got us a cow ready to milk. Trevor asked us if we would like to taste the fresh milk and we all looked at each other and said that we didn't have any cups.... to which he told us we didn't need any, and pulled one of the girls over to where he was sitting on the milking stool. Next thing we knew he was squirting the milk straight from the cows udder into her mouth! He stopped and asked if she wanted some more and she hungrily said yes. Next he asked Tom if he wanted a go and Tom declined, then he asked me and I thought "Hmm, why not, it'll be a new experience". So I knelt down next to the cow and got some of the milk from the cows udder. I know it sounds like a really strange thing to do, but if you ever get the chance to drink milk straight from a cow, then do it... it was one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted! It was so sweet and creamy, if not a little bit surreal! After everyone who wanted a taste had got the chance, we all had a got at milking the cow ourselves and I think that Tom and I were the best milkers there... we managed to get it in the bucket at least! Once we had all had a go at milking we had to get changed out of our farm clothes and get ready to take the mini-bus back to Rockhampton. We all got changed into our normal clothes and were ready to leave when we found out that the mini-bus driver had been called away to another part of the farm and we had a little more time to kill. By this point the baby kangaroo from earlier, called Natalie, had come over to join us and we all got to have a cuddle with her. She was so soft and lovely and spent most of the time nestled in your arms sucking her little toe. However she took a particular shine to Tom and followed him wherever he went, nuzzeling his legs and trying to climb onto his knee. After a while Natalie came and climbed onto my lap and the grandmother of the farm brought me a little baby's bottle full of milk and I got to feed her; she was so sweet and clung on to the bottle with her little fingers, even after all the milk was gone she wouldn't let go of the bottle. After she had drunk her milk, she went and curled up on the lap of one of the other girls and proceeded to poo all over her... I was quite glad I had passed her over before she had done that on me! A few minutes later the bus driver arrived and we had to hand Natalie back over and leave the farm; we were all really sad to leave and most of us had a nap on the journey back. Back at the hostel we agreed that the farmstay had been one of the best things we had done in Australia so far; it had been very challenging but more rewarding than we could have hoped for and had given us the chance to try some new and exciting things. What a brilliant day in the fantastic Ozzy outback!!!        
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