We had a big wet season soon after I arrived there and we couldn't do much stock work as the black soil plains is very friendly and sticks to you like that stuff that sticks to blankets. If you should walk a few hundred yards, the mud, mixed with dry grass, would end up making you several inches taller before the weight became too heavy to drag along.
Yanyrate, the water was available in copious amounts, and in tanks as well so, I being an enterprising sort of bloke, I suggested that maybe I could grow a crop of watermelons on the slope below the dam. No not under the dam, below it on the slope.
I went into the 'Reach (Longreach) and bought a couple of packets of Queensland melons and headed back to the patch.
The soil was kind to me and it was just at the right moisture content to plant, so being a fairly clever sort of bloke, I planted.
A few months later I could look out from the verandah of the Ringer's quarters and see this lush green growth, with large round things scattered amongst it all, up on the slope. The melons were big, huge is more the description, and I was in the process of hiring a back-hoe and a semi-trailer to get them to town, when the boss came over with a serious look on his face.
"Pete," he said, Pete was me name ya' see, that's why he said Pete.
"Wot's the problem?" sez I.
"Look, mate, I know ya' spent a lot of time on them melons, but I have to tell ya' that they have to be gotten rid of, soon."
"Gotten rid off?" sez I incredulously, "Soon?" sez I, not giving any credit on this either.
"Yeah! It's like this ... Yesterdy' arvo' just on sunset, the cook was going over to get a bucket of milk from the cowboy, well, from the cows that the cowboy milked, when one of your bloody melons broke away from the vine and rolled down the slope. It flattened the dairy, the cook and the bucket, and the cowboy as it went on to flatten the wife's Mercedies in the shed. So, I reckon that we better get the rest of them out of the place, hey?"
I could understand why the boss had a serious look on his face. Seriously, I mean I was no dummie in the costs involved in running a property, and a good stainless steel milk bucket is not cheap.
Well, I sold one melon to a bloke down the road at a garage, who put it out the back, put in a few cots and a window or two and rented it out to the Truckies!
A few were scooped out and used in Longreach for in-ground swimming pools and the rest we rounded up and pushed out to the back paddock. As it turned out this was a good idea as tourists thought they were looking at the Olgas in the Territory and paid money to see the melon coloured rocks and wrote their graffitti all over 'em.
Fair Dinkum! We got pictures ... I think.
Peter Rake's 'Fair Dinkum Yarns From The Australian View' is available in print and eBook formats on Amazon.com