In a conversation with Michael Burford (my cousin) about 6 months earlier, he had mentioned that he had feral goats on his property that he needed to get rid of because they were draining the food and water resources he needed to keep his sheep going in the drought. I also knew that he had a restored stone cottage on the property about 5km away from the main station, (some 55km’s from civilization), that would provide me some shelter from the mid north summer heat. It had no running water nor electricity and any cell service could only be gained by walking ten minutes up to the top of a rocky hill behind the cottage. It was one room about 3m by 5m with a few shattered windows, a fire place and a galvanized iron roof’ but I was hoping that it’s stone walls would hold out the 35-48 degree C (95 – 119F) heat I was expecting in the middle of the summer days as well as the thick dust storms that could rush in and block out the sky. The land near Peterborough is barren with red dirt and low lying saltbush as far as the eye can see so this really would be my only shelter from the elements.
My memory of the cottage was that it had a stone floor but my cousin had mentioned that a few pigeons and kangaroos had taken up residence in the place. Still, I was not prepared for the sight that met me when I first opened the door to the cottage. The whole floor was covered in about a foot of poop. It wasn’t smelly poop being old and dry and just from roos and pigeons but it was crawling with cockroaches and crickets and I knew it had to go. It was early afternoon when I donned a bandana around my face to not breathe it all in and it was dark when I carried out the last wheelbarrow full and finally swept the stone floor clean. With dusty dry poop in my eyes, ears and hair, I made a fire outside, cooked some goat on the flames and rolled out my swag under a million stars and slept like the dead.
In this dry land I had to bring water in with me in containers but I was going to be careful with what I used to eke it out over the time I was there as my cousin, in the middle of an 8 yr drought, had none to spare. This meant even though I was to become covered in dust, sweat, blood and pigeon poo dust, only a cup a day was spared to clean with. In the proposed hot weather ahead, this was going to be a luxury.