Gulf Savannah NRM recently spoke to two Gulf locals — Lewis Richards, a Ewamian Elder and local artist, and local author Colleen Taylor from her son’s property at Ooralat Station — about how station life has changed in the region over the last few decades.
“I started my working life in Gugu-Badhun Country in the Valley of Lagoons,” says Lewis. “Then I went to work on many, many other stations, the likes of Abingdon Downs, Chadston, Inorunie over in Croydon Shire, Oasis area, Rosella Plains, Strathmore and around Mt Surprise. Station life has got a lot easier since I started, shorter hours and better pay.”
Lewis recalls seeing a lot more animals from horseback. “Everything was on horseback then. There were no motorbikes; now it’s all 4-wheelers and helicopters. There were a lot of dingoes, emus — and there seemed to be more fish in the river. Now fish don’t taste like fish any more, I think it’s the pollution in the river. I’ve seen a lot of dead fish around waterways.”
Like Lewis, Colleen has also witnessed many changes in her nearly 60 years of living and working in the Gulf.
“Life has changed on the stations a real, real lot. When we moved there, it was all dirt roads — no bridge crossings on the gullies or creeks,” Colleen says.
“We completely relied on the railway,” she continues. “All our food and goods came by train to Lyndbrook Siding, and the mail came from Almaden. Our bread came from Mareeba or Dimbulah on the train, and all our cattle were trucked out by train.”
Lewis and Colleen have both noticed the wet season changing over time.
“You could predict when the rain was going to come. You can’t do that so much any more, even the weatherman can’t tell you,” says Lewis.
“Our monsoons don’t come down as much now as they used to,” Colleen points out. “You’d get those big afternoon storms, and that would be every afternoon.”
Read the full stories from Lewis and Colleen in our latest edition of the Gulf Croaker.