After some well earned relaxation, and reading, sewing, and a few walks, we decided to go back to the Drover’s Camp for a guided tour this time. What a decision, as we were shown around the excellent exhibits by Tom a retired drover of considerable experience and great knowledge. A range of beautiful paintings, many personal belongings of drovers, and their plant (or team) are on display. Camooweal was in the early part of 20th Century the capital of droving throughout north Australia, which is hard to imagine in the now small community of 310 (according to the entry sign), but it certainly is in a key location.
A droving plant typically comprised a boss, 8-10 drovers, a horse taylor, a cook, and in excess of 60 horses who would sometimes spend upwards of 12 months on the road with a typical mob of 1250 – 1500 cattle. Men often lived on 2 – 3 gallons of water for a number of days, and slept in swags comprising a canvas cover on a couple of blankets, and NO mattress at all after up to 8 hours in the saddle. They were tough guys indeed! The cook was a really important member of the team, as it was often said that a good cook made a good team, as men were always better and happier with good food. The cook and the horse taylor were also responsible for setting up the camp each night, packing it up in the morning, and providing tea, and hopefully shade for dinner (lunch).
Ian (as per the photo) even had a ride on a real life bull (it was a bit ‘stuffed’ though), and performed well without falling off.
For a free entry exhibition, with a ‘professional’ guide, this is a truly great facility, and it is pleasing to hear that they are getting increased numbers through. Anyone coming through Camooweal (and it is the only way across up here) should not miss this place.