After our wonderful time at Camp Barrabadeen we headed back to spend our last two nights with Rus and Gladys in Malanda before heading off to meet Murray’s Brother, John at Oak Park Racecourse for a working bee before the July race meeting.
Oak Park Racecourse is part of the original Oak Park Station owned by the Nimmo family, a respected part of the Etheridge Shire for over 100 years. The races were originally The Lyndhurst Amateur Picnic Races and held at Lyndhurst Station but became too big, so the Nimmo’s offered a parcel of land from Oak Park Station for the relocation of the races.
Wednesday morning, 27th April we said our goodbyes to Rus and Gladys in Malanda and headed south southwest for Oak Park. Temperatures rose, the sky cleared and we had the makings of pretty good weather ahead. Once again the roads were part of our adventure with a good mix of dirt and tar and livestock to contend with.
When we arrived at Oak Park it was a perfect 32 degrees. We set up camp and made new friends quickly with our neighbours, John’s friends, in our camp. Angie and Bryan Scott, close friends of John’s were there and his mate, Lux Foot, whom we had met before. Angie and I quickly became good friends and she helped me get to know all about camp life while together.
Angie prepared dinner that evening after happy hour, giving me the night off and something I love to eat, fresh fish and salad. Eating meals of an evening was something which was usually done together, so Thursday evening I made tacos for everyone.
Each evening, around four, the boiler had to be lit for hot water for everyone’s showers, there were two shower cubicles but when everyone was there you still had to line up. There was an old green bench seat outside which you lined up on to take your turn and after a hard day’s work it was lovely to get in that shower and refresh yourself.
Thursday morning after yoga and breakfast we talk a 45 minute walk with John and Bryan (Scottie) along the banks of the Copperfield River, which flows into the Gulf of Carpentaria, to check the red claw pots they had put out the previous afternoon. The red claw seemed to like the new bait of salami and cheese as the pots with potato in didn’t catch as many. All up over two days they caught approximately 70 red claw which went down a treat with everyone once they marinated and cooked them.
Thursday and Friday were reasonably quiet days and were the ones where we got shown around the different camps and introduced to some lovely people whom we quickly came to know and love, Eadie and Jerry from Watershed camp were two of those special people. Lux, Angie and myself had a few quiet but cheeky games of Rummy-o during the days at Murphy Camp.
Our campfire Thursday night with just the six of us was reasonably quiet and I was told it would be nothing like the nights to come. We did have a couple of little visitors each night which were a pair of paddy melons and big visitors through the day which were the local cows. Angie, Murray and I even made some scones in our camp oven which were a roaring success.
Old fashioned hospitality and cooking were abundant over the four days we spent here. When Friday evening came we met the Murphy family who’s camp we were part of, all the other camps were filling up too. The cook, Anna had arrived and was doing her stuff in the kitchen. It was steak on the barbie with veges. Boy was it good after a busy day all round. The bar was open and the stories were being spread around the tables as the food was devoured. Then off to bed ready for a big day Saturday.
We had a quiet breakfast before heading up to the kitchen to find out the jobs for the day. I remained in the kitchen and spent a few solid hours preparing for morning tea (smoko), lunch, afternoon tea, nibbles and dinner. I’ve never seen so much food prepared in so little time, all before ten o’clock. I cut up around ten kilos of potatoes, two large pumpkins and three blocks of cheese along with other helpers. I helped with three large platters of salads and a very large coleslaw and saw around six large pieces of silverside cut into 18 smaller pieces, all to be cooked and consumed over lunch and dinner. Desserts were provided by the camps that had representatives there for the weekend and some looked pretty good, let me tell you, as did the slices and cakes some of the women provided for smokos.
Murray was part of the electrical detail who were out replacing and fixing supply lines which had been downed by a recent storm. He also assisted with the unloading of many bags of dry cement and other equipment for building new toilet blocks ready for the upcoming races and also gave a hand with plumbing repairs on some inground water leaks around the stables.
All in all a busy, productive and successful few days. There will be another working bee before the races in July to finish off any other outstanding jobs.
Saturday night saw a few people let their hair down and enjoy this friendly atmosphere and company of people whom they don’t always get to see as they all have their own busy lives on stations in the area. A lot of the tradies who give up their time for these working bees come from Townville and Cairns and are only too happy to do so. Everyone is always well fed and looked after at Oak Park and we were made to feel very welcome. We look forward to one day returning here, hopefully with ours boys, or them on their own, to spend some more time with these wonderful people whom we can call friends.
As with all good times they must come to an end and we chose to leave on Sunday morning. We had the best time here but our adventure awaited us on the other side. After some hard farewells with our fellow camp members we hit the road to Porcupine Gorge near Hughenden…but that my friends is another story and blog you’ll have to wait for.