Thursday, March 29, 2018


I’ve always loved going out west and spending time on Fortuna. This property, near Aramac in Central Western Queensland, belongs to Kim's brother and his family and has for over 30 years now. I have seen it change over this time and especially in the last ten years or so that they have been grazing the cattle and managing the land in a more regenerative way. It is quite brittle country and responds a lot slower than country in our area. 

Alot of damage was done by early settlers and sheep. Land managers back then and many still to this day have a very European style management system. Europe is quite fertile and the land very stable and robust. Australia is a very old, weathered land and before white settlement was obviously a lot more fertile than it is now.  When I say fertile, I mean that it had been managed for thousands of years in a sustainable way. Our ancestors came along and saw all this grass and thought wow this is amazing we can run vast herds of sheep and cattle.....and they could for a short period of time. Lack of transport options made it difficult to move stock when they needed to, so over the following 100 odd years (from settlement) land slowly degraded to a point that people thought it was normal. What some land managers are now proving, though, is that it can come back - over time.

When trees or branches fall, it provides protection from the kangaroos for the grass and it gets an opportunity to grow.

There's still a lot of bare dirt, so plenty of room for improvement still.

Getting better.

Around our place, people hate indian couch as they see it as an invasive species, a weed. My view is that it shows that you are not doing something right. Out west, indian couch is a good sign - any grass cover is good. It's an early succession species and once the soil improves, other better quality grasses will come. Natives as well as non-natives.

Life is different out West - I feel the change come over me as I cross The Great Dividing Range and smell the western air. It's like a weight has lifted.In the early years I think it was my pioneering nature that made me want to live out there (which we very nearly did) and now I don’t think that I want to live there but I still love coming out. 

It’s one place I can relax. There is no work that I need to do. I can just chill. I can take the time to sit and be mindful. It’s easy just to be in the moment. There’s no rush to get one job done so that I can move onto the next job. There is none of the small jobs that scream at me when I take a small moment of time out at home. There’s time to be mindful. There’s always time for another cup of tea. There’s time to chat. There’s time to go for a walk just for the Pleasure of going for a walk. There’s time to just sit and cuddle the dog. There’s time to just Be. We are human beings and not human doings so I need to learn to “be” a bit more. Be in the moment. Be at peace. Be calm. Be happy. Be relaxed. Be mindful. Be loving. Be me.

 I took many walks and these are just some of the pictures I took

Sometimes it rains cats and dogs, and sometimes it just rains fish!

It’s been a lovely couple of days. Mostly doing nothing. I love the laid back attitude of everyone out this way. Monday morning we went to visit the neighbours for morning tea - only half an hour drive through Fortuna to get there. Typical country hospitality where you just stop work and share a cuppa. Then a quick walk through the garden for me, Kim went with the men to check out the new shed. But Lindy is a keen gardener so I wanted to look around and I scored some bean seeds. Some of “Ned’s beans” which I think I’ll rename to Lindy’s beans as she’s been growing them for nearly 20 years These are also called foot long bean and they look a little like a snake bean. And a new one to me, New Guinea bean seeds which I’ve never heard of and are much larger. This photo shows a dried, fully grown one but apparently they are best eaten about at less than an inch in diameter. Both are climbers so I’ll have to find a spot to put them.

New Guinea Bean - some info on this link.

This is called Ned's bean. I was given some bean seeds a couple of years ago (from Jane) and never had any luck, but I think they were a small black bean - related maybe.

The challenge for me is to take some of this peace and calmness and integrate it into my life at home. I’m sure I could get all my jobs done more efficiently if I can do this.

The West can also be a lonely and harsh life for the humans! George was a caretaker on Fortuna in the 50's. He also happened to be an alcoholic. One wet season, he ran out of food and grog, so headed out to visit the neighbours - about 20 minutes drive away today. It's unknown if he was on foot or in a car, but he got stuck on the way somehow and perished. Very sad to die alone and like that.

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