Kroombit Cattle Station, Australia (14th Feb 2008)
For the days leading up to this stop we have being having some mixed feelings and didn't know if we should look forward to it, or if it would be a total disaster, but still it was hard not to be a bit excited as we came through the fields surrounding the farm and saw all the animals around and the crops in the fields and since it's a compulsory over night stop for the Oz Experience bus we had no choice in the matter anyway!
Upon arriving in the middle of nowhere we were greeted straight away by some stereotype cowboy blokes who were stood round an open sided barn cooking some steaks and dishing out salad for dinner... what a welcome! After lunch we then had to decide which of the optional activities we wanted to do, we had a choice of horse riding, which involved rounding up the goats or clay pigeon shooting. Mark decided that he would be a natural with the shotgun so signed up for the clay pigeon shooting and since Kara wanted some photos, she signed up too.
Since it was Valentine's Day and the dorms didn't get air conditioning, we paid a little bit extra and got our own private double room next to the showers and toilets which only the private rooms were meant to use since they were much nicer. After dumping our bags in the room we only had three quarters of an hour before the clay pigeon shooting was due to start so we headed back out to the barn and found ourselves some more temporary friends to last the next couple of days. Eventually one of the cowboys turned up in his Land Cruiser and took us out to a field to do some shooting. In the field opposite were the group of people whom had decided to do the horse riding and they were making a real racquet all shouting the same thing time and time again while the goats ignored them, we were glad not to have paid $50 to do it as the horses looked like they would be more at home with the donkeys on the beach at Scarborough plodding along being equally as disobedient as the goats they were meant to be rounding up.
The guy in charge of the shooting went through a few bits of safety and then went on to show us how the launcher worked and then tried to shoot a couple as Mark volunteered to fire the guys pigeons for the demonstration, he got 2 out of 5, and he was trying, regardless of what he reckoned. In the first group there were about 10 of us and after a few other people had been up, Mark stepped forward and tried his luck and after biging himself up on the way there, was a bit nervous; thankfully as soon as he picked up the gun and yelled PULL he swung the gun round to the right, and BANG, first one shattered in the sky into a millions pieces. Feeling like an old pro, Mark proved himself to be one of the only people (3 out of 50) who got 5 out of 5 and got a huge round of applause from everyone when he put down the gun for the last time, so, now for Christmas Mark would like a gun as he loved it so much, so watch out everyone and make sure you don't upset him.
After the shooting we had to wait for the donkey riders to finish getting all the goats into the pens, so the people who worked the farm came to try and teach us how to lasso but to be frank we were both absolutely rubbish and gave up and decided to laugh at everyone else instead who seemed so intent on being the first one to lasso the cows skull that was on a bit stick. Thankfully it wasn't too long before the goats had all been rounded up and everyone else had come out to where we were from the farm.
The next activity was the one that we had been dreading, the goat muster challenge, which is basically as follows:
1.About 100 mixed goats (Billy's, Nanny's & Kids) are placed into the biggest of the holding pens, where for the challenge, we would wrestle a nanny goat down, milk it, then drink its milk.
2.We are then told to get in groups of three and to decide who would be doing what. Mark being the only male in the group decided he would do the macho thing and wrestle with the nanny goat and before Kara could protest that she didn't want to drink the milk the other girl we had just met volunteered so Kara was left with the milking!
3.The whole event is timed and to cut a long story short we managed to nearly try milking a Billy goat then Mark through one over onto its back and finally we managed to get it done in a time of 1 minute 38 seconds which had us finish in 4th place, which we thought was OK out of ten groups that had the bottle to even get in there and try it.
Since we only had one night at Kroombit they seemed to make every second count and soon we were back down to the bar area for our tea; soup followed by a roast, but nothing like Mark's Dad's or Sian's roast (can't wait to have one of those) but more like a slab of cheap meat with some boiled veggies and a teaspoon of gravy (not impressed). It wasn't great but it filled a hole, and more importantly for us, it was free. After dinner was cleared away we were told to gather round and listen to the old guy who owns the place prattle on about how it all came about and how the area produces 70% of Australia's beef. Following on from this, the old guy pulled out his own fancy whip and started cracking it like mad, going over his head with it and doing a bit of a show; then he taught us how to use a whip, or at least he tried. Mark managed to crack it once and Kara only did it a couple of times too, but she had a disadvantage from the start, everyone else had 4 foot whips, Kara's was pretty pathetic and was 18 inch at best so by the time we had hit ourselves around the head ten times and nearly drawn blood from our legs, we were happy to hand back the whips and more on to doing something else.
They had a bucking bronco which was the last organised activity for the night. We had all previously put our names down on a sheet and signed some kind of disclaimer but when the time came to actually get up on the thing a lot of people chickened out (including Kara, she blamed her ability to bruise so easily) A few of the girls and guys we had met up with had a go first and the girls beat the boys hands down, literally. Most of the girls managed to stay on for a good twenty seconds at the least whereas most of the lads managed two 'bucks' and they were off. Mark soon stepped up to the challenge hoping for a repeat of his success at the shooting but with little luck, he was off within the first five seconds and didn't take the second go he was offered as coming off once was enough.
The rest of our night was spent with a few people that we had met at the farm, one of whose birthday it was, so we stayed out drinking the overpriced rum and coke listening to some music until just before midnight at which point we called it a night and went to bed.
We then left the Cattle Station at 7am in the morning at got as comfortable as we could because this leg of the trip is the longest journey of our Oz Experience, taking 11 hours to do about 760km to Airlie Beach where we get to go sailing out onto the great barrier reef and around the Whitsunday islands, and there wouldn't be many stops on the way either!