Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Saltbush survivors

Bob McFarlandIf low wool prices don't make life tough enough, environmental problems that confront the McFarland family of Oxley Station would beat many other landholders. But undaunted, and often using conventional methods, they have found the formula for success in unforgiving country.

Story: Kellie Penfold
Photographs: Lynn McColl

If he didn't wear a grin from ear to ear the whole time he's telling his tale of woe, you'd swear Bob McFarland was just about buggered.

Out on Oxley Station near the tiny village of Oxley on the Lachlan River in south-western NSW, things are crook.

The wool clip is worth next to nothing, carp have taken over the river flowing through the property to such an extent that the banks are eroding and the water is almost mud, the federal government's gun buy-back scheme has virtually eliminated a profitable sideline of enticing visiting pig shooters, pressure on water for irrigation and chemical use upstream has left the McFarlands with the "sewer end of the Lachlan", bureaucrats are making farming harder, and NSW Fisheries ignore Bob so much he calls it the Carp protection Authority because he reckons it doesn't realise the damage caused by the introduced species.

Oxley Station"The carp used to swim past my house with streamers and balloons and blowing whistles. At least now they wear hard hats and carry guns," Bob jokes as he produces a bottle of Charlie Carp, a garden fertiliser made from dead carp - the best use Bob can find for the destroyers of the river.

Charlie Carp Bob or Saltbush Bob ( two names his friends bestow on him) and his wife Errolly, their son Andrew and his fiancee Vanessa Wilkes and their daughter Fiona and her husband David Coleman, are custodians of some of the Riverina's most significant pastoral history.

Despite the challenges they are fighting back.

Using holistic management techniques and practising "clean green" agriculture, they have decided to work with Mother Nature and Father Time to turn the historic property into a showpiece for tomorrow. Story end

Full story: Issue 13, October-November, 2000

Go to:

Subscribe today

Subscribe now and receive each bi-monthly issue for only $45 mailed to any address in Australia. Overseas rates at Subscription Centre. OUTBACK has been Australia's fastest-growing magazine for the past two years in a row.

R.M. Williams Summer 2004/5 Catalogue

Visit rmwilliams.com.au for R.M.Willams history, news and the on-line product catalogue