Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


ImageLife on the track

The Birdsville Track is one of Australia's most famous roads, its history steeped in the myths of the Kidman droving days, the Afghan cameleers and the unstoppable mailman Tom Kruse. The families and characters that live there today continue the legend.

Story Sue Neales photos John Elliott

Adam Gerard is leaning against the cattle yards down by the dry Warburton Creek on Kalamurina Station. He's the newest owner on the Birdsville Track and probably at this moment, the most sweaty and dirty.

ImageNot that Adam cares. His newly-acquired mob of motley cattle mustered from the Simpson Desert to the north and the Tirari Desert to the south are in the yards, the spuds and steak are on the fire and the first beer can is in hand.

Manager Nathan Keogh and his brother Steve are planning the next day's branding, while Adam's young son, Josh, 10, can't keep the smile off his face after a day mustering the sand hills and river flats on the station's new quad bike.

"Look at it; it is marginal country – there's no doubt about that," says Adam Gerard, his eyes scanning the dry river bed and desert country beyond of the 7,000 square kilometre pastoral lease his family has just bought for $1.8 million.

It is something of an understatement, Kalamurina has less than four inches of rain annually (if it's lucky), is largely undeveloped with only one bore, no boundary fences on its Lake Eyre and Simpson Desert fringes and only one internal 100 hectare-paddock. Otherwise it's all high and long sand ridges with claypans in between.

"But there's something about this part of the world that really gets to you," says Adam, part of Adelaide's high-flying Gerard family, which has just sold its successful Clipsal electrical products business to a French company for $750 million and is looking to expanding its agricultural interests.

"It's big, it's untouched and it's fluctuating country. But when the Warburton River flows, like it did in March, it looks just marvellous; there was feed everywhere. That's what is so attractive about buying Kalamurina. It's partly the history of the place, and the mythology of the Birdsville Track, but this land also makes you feel you can shape it the way you want." Story end

Full story Issue 32, Dec 03/Jan 04

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