A brief look at a working Cattle Station – Curtin Springs NT
When travelling throughout the central interior of Australia you soon realise that it is often the very small towns and the existing or old disused cattle stations that most capture your imagination.
Whilst there are still many thriving outback cattle stations today, other pastoralists not so fortunate due to drought and other limiting factors had to find new ways of reinventing themselves to survive. Many now cater to the ever flourishing Caravanning, RV and camping tourist trade by offering on-site camping, fuel, supplies, home cooked meals and even very bad wine. One of our favourites so far on our trip was Curtin Springs Station 360 kms southwest of Alice Springs – see inset above.
Curtin Springs Station began in the 1930’s known then as Mt Connor Station with stock of sheep. As we had a great home cooked meal here – I was fascinated to read whilst waiting at the bar (for a bad wine to be poured) about some of the history of Curtin Springs – this is some of what I read and I add with some amusement.
In 1940, Mt Connor Station was leased to Abraham Andrews, who wanted to call the property ‘Stalin Springs’ after Joseph Stalin of Russia. His sons objected and it then became known as ‘Curtin Springs’ after the late Honourable John Curtin, the then Prime Minister of Australia.
Curtin Springs today is considered a large and successful working cattle station with over 4000 head of mainly Murray Grey spread across 1 million acres (equivalent to 4, 160 square Kms) of land without any surface water.
We stayed a free camp night here and loved the real bushy feel and attitude the station people had here in what can be only described as a hard and rewarding work life. The boys loved the many animals that are spread across the station grounds such as dogs, emu’s, chickens, and many species of birds. A popular site with the hardcore self-sufficient caravaners and a place we loved stumbling across.
A laugh a minute these guys – but watch your fingers! (Copyright Geoff Hunter 2015)
Here is the brief history of the station and how they helped start tourism for Ayers Rock.
1957 The first tours to Ayers Rock began once a week by Len Tuit. 1958 First Liquor license obtained. Must have beds for three people and stabling for horses. 1958 Peter and Dawn installed a fuel dispensing pump and a 500-gallon underground tank. 1959-60 A small grocery store was started. Dawn Severin began serving morning and afternoon cups of tea and scones. Curtin Springs was the first tourist stop developed outside of Alice Springs. 1958-1981 Over 100 bore holes drilled. Only 14 sites usable. 1961 Lowest rainfall on record – 2 inches. 1962-1963 Peter and Lofty built the original entrance way to the Ayers Rock National Park. 1963-1964 Peter Severin helped install the chain on the Ayers Rock climb. 1964 Len Tuit increased to 2 buses per week from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock. A large number of other tour companies were running by this stage. First ‘tourist’ staff member employed for the winter ‘busy’ periods. 1967 The Stone House was built, from stone quarried on the property. 1967 Drought finished, only 400 head of cattle left. 1970s Mustering changed from horseback to helicopters as a requirement under the BTEC (TB & brucellosis) eradication program. 1970s Road-trains drove the cattle to market, instead of weeks of walking/droving. 1974 Highest rainfall on record – 32 inches. 1987 Ashley Severin travelled to UK & Europe for his Nuffield Scholarship. Late 1980s Mustering changed to water trapping. 1980s Budget accommodation and family rooms installed. 2004 Accommodation increased to 27 rooms. 2014 Launch of new tours and experiences – Curtin Springs Paper and Curtin Springs Walks