We met Boof and wife Karen on the banks of the Moorehead River. They were travelling with friends Chris and Geoff and had been on the road from their South Australian homes since May. They had come around the Savannah Way from Roper Bar, were heading to the Cape and didn’t know when they would be back in South Australia.
The couples had left their caravans and boats at Lakeland and were going north in modified circumstances: tents.
Karen said travelling with Chris, a retired school principal who had been in command of schools since she was 29, and Geoff, a Pom who worked for Tetra packages in Australia and the USA, had done wonders in helping Boof and she adjust to the laid-back style of exploring Australia.
Like Tony and I, they had always been on schedules and had bolted through previous Australian odyssey at rates of up to a 1000 km a day. This time they had cut back close to sauntering and learning to love it.
Boof, who has been called that since he was two and his father referred to him as a boofhead, now runs smaller (less than a million acres) Angus cattle on a property near the mouth of the Murray.
On the banks of the dry Moorehead, the two couples were preparing for their first night under canvas and feeling pretty good about it. Boof said swapping a caravan for a tent didn’t worry him because he had spent a lot of time in swags.
Boof’s family had moved to the SA-Territory area in 1920, expanding their property in 1945 by buying the Crown station near Dalhousie Springs. Did he miss the wide open spaces and running 5000 to 7000 head of cattle? Not a bit.
Mustering by horse or bike? Karen rolled her eyes and recalled walking stock. A long way. “Boof’s dad would drop us off out somewhere to walk the cattle back. He would come around now and again and give us a sip of water.”
Good times were good. Seven inches of rain at the right time could create lush conditions for three years – if you were stocked and the market was right you could do very nicely, thank you. It didn’t happen a lot.
Too much rain and out came a beautiful crop of wildflowers, blazing as far as the eye could see and bereft of gutsy grass for cattle.
Life is a lot easier down near the coast with the Angus. Life is even cruisier on the road but Boof still had a bit of a load on his shoulders at Moorehead River where communications are non-existent. He couldn't get the cricket scores and he had a horse running the next day.
PHOTO ABOVE: Don't miss that station life: Boof with Karen at Moorehead Creek, a free camp site north of Hann River.