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Published: September 7th 2014
Approximately 40 kms NW of Broken Hill is an outback sheep station that welcomes travelers and provides generous camping and bunkhouse facilities. Mount Gipps is an 85,000 hectare property that runs 8,000 Dorper sheep and some cattle. John, the station owner, was no where to be found at the homestead when we arrived, but as I had spoken to him by phone earlier in the week, we decided to make our way down to what was obviously the camp ground (there was another caravan there) and make ourselves at home.
The current owners of Mount Gipps are relatively new ... 9 years they've been there. Historically Mount Gipps station figures quite large in local lore concerning the commencement of BHP and mining at Broken Hill. The Syndicate of Seven, the 7 chaps who discovered the mining riches of silver, zinc and lead and clubbed together, each chipping in 70 pounds, to form the Broken Hill Proprietary company, were all working at Mount Gipps station when they made the discovery. They were the overseer, the manager, the roustabout, the station hand, the shearer. Or something like that.
This station is in real red dust scrubby country – nothing grows higher
than about 2 metres, and the ground is covered in prickles of every shape and size. Just ask Polly. She became very wary of venturing too far from our camp site and simply refused to follow me up the hill behind where we were camped after the first attempt because she became quite lame because of all the prickles she picked up.
When we arrived at about 1.30pm there were approximately 1 dozen emus wandering around but they quickly disappeared. However, they seem to be creatures of habit because at almost exactly the same time the next day they reappeared and then disappeared off in the same direction they had the previous day.
We were told by our fellow campers that there was an enormous wedge tail eagle that lived just at the top of the hill so I was hopeful of some good photos. But alas, the eagle did not show himself to us, and all my attempts to find his (or her) nest proved fruitless.
The infrastructure on the station is amazing. There is no surface water …what was obviously once a huge dam is now completely empty and no longer used. John told us
that all their water is pumped from underground, and pumped all over their 85,000 hectares by a system of pipes, tanks etc etc. Some pumps are solar and wind powered, others electric. They have their own air field, a huge wool shed which I doubt is used much for shearing as they are now running Dorper sheep which are a meat breed of sheep and shed their wool naturally and don’t need to be shorn.
We were fascinated to watch the huge amount of traffic that passed by Mount Gipps on the road along which we had traveled to get there and which continued on elsewhere. There was always a cloud of dust along this road as vehicles of all shapes and sizes literally flew along it. Lou and I decided that they must go fast so that they don’t feel the bumps and bangs. This road apparently leads eventually to the Dog fence which at the corner of South Australia is only about 140 kms away (according to John).
We enjoyed our time at Mount Gipps very much. It was sooooooooo quiet. And we had the place virtually to ourselves as the other campers left the morning
after we arrived. As they generously provided us with a drum to have a fire and a large pile of firewood, we had a wonderful campfire all day on Saturday – to combat the very cold wind from which there was very little shelter.
Now we are back in Broken Hill to stock up on supplies, and tomorrow will head off to Menindee. They’ve had rain out that way recently, and earlier this week we heard that all dirt roads to and from Menindee were closed. Hopefully they are now open, and we are looking forward to some lake side camping, a bit of fishing and some wonderful sunsets to photograph.
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