Fw: Rest of the Nullarbor

Fri 16 Dec 2011 09:12
This is a much delayed blog due to our inability to put in a lat/long correctly!! Thus the cats cradle that is our route around this island.
From:Sent: Friday, Decesandy and steph mber 02, 2011 12:08 AM
To: Blog
Subject: Fw: Rest of the Nullarbor
We got away from Nullarbor Roadhouse early and had a LOOOONG 750km drive (much too far in a day but we had to put the clocks back 2.5 hours entering WA so we just kept going)
I read some stuff written by a lady called Coral Beattie about their family life at the Nullarbor Station. (Nullarbor is the name of the station as well as the plain)  Coral married Scobe in 1937 and they moved to Nullarbor in 1947.  They had 3 children, Elaine, Dennis and Jenny and they ran the sheep station of 1.3 million acrea.  Some of the things Coral talks about are hard to imagine.
They had artesian water that was quite salty.  In the hottest weather it evaporated, so they had to shut the sheep out in the day, then refill the tanks with fresh water at night for the sheep to drink so lthat they wouldnt be poisoned by salt.  They had a meathouse at the back of the homestead made of posts and broom bush and wire netting with a meat safe inside to hold 2 sheep carcases.Coral had the job of cutting up the meat with an axe and a butchers knife and it was shared with the family and the aboriginal people working on the station.  The men often brought home a wombat, there were thousands of them, and she would salt the legs for bacon.
The Dog Fence runs for thousands of miles across Australia to keep dingoes to the north of it and sheep to the south.  (we crossed the grid at the start of it).  The men had to go out every day to maintain it, blocking up wombat holes with rocks and wire.  The Vermin Board had a bounty of 2/6d a scalp for wombats, and dingoes £1 a scalp.
Rabbit trapping was a common way of life.  She talks about the trappers having to kick the rabbits out of the way to set the traps.  One man would set 200 traps a day, 7 days a week, and a pair of rabbits fetched 2/6d.
Coral’s family were friends with an aboriginal couple called Jimmy and Myrtle who were always rowing.  Jimmy was always cadging cigarettes from Scobe, and she points out that “back in those days aboriginals were not allowed to drink”, although Jimmy did.
Scobe died in 1966. Coral moved from the station in 1960 and ran the post office at Fowlers Bay.  All her children got married.  Near the end of the story, she says that Scobe was a port drinker and would often become violent towards the family and suffered from mood swings.  But she mostly remembered the good times.  Coral eventually moved to the Senior Citizens Village in Ceduna (which we saw) and died  aged 94 in 2006.
Coral’s story kept us amused on much of the journey, till we eventually arrived at Norseman, an unremarkable dead quiet town at the western end of the Nullarbor.  We had a really gritty hot fly blown campsite and felt exhausted!  The flies make you really bad tempered, and have caused us to buy some ridiculous hats that make you look like a beekeeper.