“Clovernook”, Bauhinia District

In 1966, Lew Blackmore from “Chester”, Clandulla in NSW, and who also owned Gregory Downs south of Burketown, purchased “Clovernook”, a 12,706 acre property, near Bauhinia Downs, west of Moura. Scott Hallam from Australian Estates in Rockhampton was the agent and they purchased the property from Graham and Shirley McCamley for around $9 per acre or $124,000 (McCamley’s had purchased the property from Tom Quilty about 4 years earlier for $4 an acre).

The original “Clovernook” home moved there by Graham and Shirley McCamley.

Lew’s son Greg, who was 20 years old, at the time, and had just finished his studies at Marcus Oldham College became a partner with Lew in the land purchase.

Existing bore, tank and trough

“Clovernook” comprised approximately 7,000 acres of Bonewood and Softwood scrub country with associated Brigalow mostly established to improved pastures of Buffel, Green panic and Rhodes grasses.

Brigalow on edge of black soil creek flats

2,000 acres of native black soil creek flats and Black Teatree forest along Clovernook Creek. Balance area of 3,706 acres comprises mixed forest country rising to basalt tableland carrying native grasses. Around 500 acres of forest had been ring barked in the past with parts reverting. Carrying Capacity was estimated at 1 beast to 12 acres.

Cattle yards looking back across creek to house and shed

The drive in from the the mail box on Fairfield Road was about 7kms of mostly black soil creek flats. At that time the mail service came from Duaringa.

The black soil road in from Fairfield Road.

The property came with a set of wooden cattle yards and concrete dip, a basic cottage that had been moved there and set on high blocks, a wood and iron vehicle shed, a number of paddocks, a 2,400 ft airstrip, 3 dams and 5 sub artesian bores of limited supply and no natural waters. The bore at the homestead, was equipped with a Lister 6HP diesal engine and pump jack as well as a 32 volt generator and batteries for lighting. The stove was wood fired and the fridges were kerosene. The following list of plant came with the property:- Austin Ute; Jeep; Ferguson Tractor; Trailer; Linkage Post Hole Digger; 2 saddles; Compressor; water tank; Finsbury pump; 2 kerosene fridges and 6 horses.

Ian Rouse and Greg Blackmore in the Jeep used for fencing and Lew’s Beechcraft.

Initially, Greg and a couple of school mates, Ian Rouse and Peter Evans, who joined him on separate occasions, worked the new property for a few months. Whilst Peter Evans was there, they had a Mice plague. “We can remember shooting mice from inside the house, through the open doorway, with a .22, as they ran past the door opening. We also used to clean the wood fire stove chimney by throwing kerosene into the smouldering fire and waiting for the resulting explosion to do its work”.

Cattle yards and concrete dip

The “Clovernook” neighbours were, Alistair and Dick Langhorne at “Bauhinia Downs” to the north ; Alf sanderson and his father, and later Clarice, at “Carramar” to the west; Jock Rayner at “Ruddlea” to the south; Brian Loader and his brother and father at “Gednal” to the south and east and Bill Wray at “Karemba” to the east of the Fairfield Road. Further down that road and adjoining “Ruddlea” was Lex Walker at “Fairfield”. (There was also a large lake on “Fairfield” that was later used to water ski on with a V8 inboard ski boat that several locals owned, including, Greg, Jock Rayner and Peter Davison.)

Lew Blackmore at one of the engine and mill equipped bores.

During 1967, Greg Blackmore worked for Graham McCamley, at “Tartrus” and later for his father at Gregory Downs. Greg was back at “Tartrus” in 1968 for a while and then later that year again working for his father at Gregory Downs. The following year (1969) he was working for his father at a new property “Cootharaba” near Gympie.

Bottle Tree and developed Softwood Scrub

During these years, Lew employed Trevor Jensen (wife Gloria) as manager at “Clovernook” and steers were railed down from “Gregory Downs”, on agistment, for fattening on improved tropical pastures and then sold through the Gracemere saleyards.

Trevor Jensen checking a water.

The phone was connected to “Clovernook” in November 1968. Prior to that the closest phone was at George and Shirley Hollonds “Corandirk”, back towards Moura.

Pulled and burnt Brigalow scrub ready for aerial seeding
Developed scrub country

At one time, a fire got into “Clovernook” from the Fairfield Road and severely reduced the supply of stock feed. The Loaders next door had been burnt right out as well as some of Jock Rayner’s place, to the South. After the fire Green Panic pasture seed was dropped, by air, onto the burnt country.

Cleaning a trough

The water position was also fairly grim. Driller, Hal Friemuth, of Depco Drilling, had put down another seven bore holes but no water so it looked like developing surface water was to be the only option and Ian Wilkinson Earthmoving was employed to dig a couple of new dams. (Many years later a flowing bore was drilled just near the homestead.)

Unsuccessful drilling for water
Unsuccessful drilling for water

The fattening of Gregory steers on “Clovernook” may not have turned out as successful as hoped for, as in 1968 the tail end of the mob that went to “Clovernook”, that were left on Gregory Downs had nearly all been turned off prior to the ones at “Clovernook”.

Existing Dam

Greg had got married in May 1968 and in October that year Lew and Louie Blackmore had purchased “Cootharaba” at Kin Kin from the Galloway family and moved there from “Chester” at Clandulla, which they later sold. A lot of development work and pasture improvement was planned for “Cootharaba”. The property was 4,800 acres, mostly native grasses and undeveloped but capable of running 1,200 head of cattle.  Lew intended to stock it with breeders from “Gregory Downs”. A lot of potential was seen in the 65” rainfall and possibilities of establishing improved pastures to improve the carrying capacity to a beast to the acre.

In 1969, due to a severe drought in central Queensland, steers were sent to “Cootharaba” from “Clovernook” for relief and subsequently sent back there when the drought broke.

Existing equipped bore

In 1970 Greg and his family moved from “Cootharaba” to “Clovernook”

In 1971, with funds borrowed from the Commonwealth Development Bank, Greg bought out the Clovernook Partnership and managed the property on his own account trading as Turuga Pty Ltd.

Greg bought 427 breeding heiffers from “Gregory Downs” on a valuation of $65 per head ($27,775 total) arrived at by a local agent Ivan Bell who worked for Australian Estates.

14K Wagons of Gregory Downs heiffers leaving Kajabi rail head for Moura and Clovernook.

The Gregory heifers were trucked on rail from Kajabi to Moura in September 1970. The Drovers from Gregory to Kajabi were Kevin and Barbara Hansen and the train drover was Maurie Condon. The drover from Moura to Clovernook was Eric A Madden from Baralaba. Greg also took the trip by rail from Kajabi near Cloncurry to Moura as an assistant train drover and then joined the drover on the road to “Clovernook”.

The KB Wagon carried cattle and also had small quarters, where they slept and cooked meals on a portable gas stove. As the train moved along the wagon would sway from side to side and the tongue and groove timbers of the wagon could be seen sliding against each other.

The cattle were unloaded for spelling twice on the trip, at Selheim and Bloomsbury.

Gregory Downs cattle.

Greg then bought Brahman bulls at the Bull Sales in Rockhampton to join with the Shorthorn heifers.

At that time, Bob Ayers, son of Bill Ayers (who managed “Minnel”, near Goondiwindi for Peter Roberts and where Greg jackeroo’d in 1964) was also working with Australian Estates in Rockhampton. (Bob was later to become a Cardiologist at Toowoomba). David Watkins was the Estates branch manager and Scot Hallam, who had been the agent in the purchase of “Clovernook”, was also still with Estates and Noel Grant was looking after merchandise.

As he did not have enough cattle, or finances, to stock the property to full carrying capacity, agistment cattle were also taken in from Errol Graving at Biloela.

Turkey Nest, tank and trough at front bore

Greg initially employed Jackeroos to help with the running of the property. Robert Mackenzie was the first and later Butch Hollingworth.

Greg and his family moved to Rockhampton in 1973 and Greg obtained his Private Pilot’s Licence at the Rockhampton Aero Club and then in May 1973 purchased at a 1956 model Cessna 172 VH-RDP from George Campbell at Mudgee in NSW, for $4,300 and commuted to “Clovernook” from Rockhampton. Allan and Marianne (Nee Hood) Urquhart were then employed on a full time basis and moved into the house on “Clovernook”.

Greg’s Cessna 172 and Lew’s Beechcraft at the house in 1974

One day, at “Clovernook”, Greg and Allan Urquhart loaded a heavy Southern Cross EFD Diesal pump engine into the back of the Cessna to take it to Rockhampton for repairs. Greg then took off alone, with no other passengers, other than the engine in the back, and found to his dismay that although the aircraft could carry the load the airstrip was far too short, and the weather probably far too hot, to effect a safe take off and he was soon only just clearing the tree tops at the end of the strip and had to follow the creek down at tree top level for some time before gaining a safe height. Allan recalls:- “I did see that the Cessna 172 had just cleared over the top of the fence with the heavy engine and I had thought that she wasn’t going to get airborne”. The engine was later brought back to “Clovernook” from Rockhampton by vehicle.

Looking down the airstrip towards the house

In July 1974, Greg moved with his family to “Gregory Downs” and Allan and Marianne Urquhart, who had been working on “Clovernook” since 1973, then took over the management.

In 1976, the cattle depression and lack of equity forced Greg to sell “Clovernook”, to Warwick and Trevor Power, Accountants of Biloela, in partnership with Keith and Pam Morris of Grevells Furniture Biloela, for around $16 per acre. Lloyd Taylor from Moura was the agent.

With a significant loan from the Commonwealth Development Bank, Greg had been forced to sell young, unfinished cattle to settle debt commitments. In hindsight, a stronger stand should have been taken and the cattle fattened before sale.

Greg then went to work for Lloyd Taylor & Co at Moura for the next 10 years.

During the ownership of Warwick and Trevor Power, Allan and Marianne Urquhart initially continued to manage the property, followed by Brian and Joy Moloney and then Barry and Cathy Phipps from 1996 to 2011.

Around 2005 the original cottage, that had been moved there by Graham and Shirley McCamley was demolished. In 2009 a new set of steel cattle yards were constructed by Barry Phipps.

Power Bros and the Morris’s eventually sold “Clovernook” in 2011 to the Wilson family from Banana and Baralaba.

“Clovernook”

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