About Carson River Station and its History
Carson River Station (CRS) is WAs northern most pastoral lease dating back to the early 1900s. To date it is leased by the Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation (KAC) through the Department of Lands, under a Pastoral Lands lease. The station manages a ‘community herd’ where cattle are primarily used as ‘killers’ for meat supply to Kalumburu residents.
The CRS was deemed unviable many years ago, however through the different management era’s new plans for development and pastoral management ideas were created and tested.
Throughout the different changes the vital conditions of maintaining a Pastoral Lease were not being adhered to and as a result the station laid dormant for approximately six years. In this period the Annual returns Reports and musters have been erratic.
KAC and the Department of Parks and Wildlife have since developed a partnership and the following outcomes have been achieved, satisfying the Pastoral Lands Board:
LOCATION AND ACCESS
- Carson River Station (CRS) is WAs northern most pastoral lease dating back to the early 1900s
- CRS homestead is located ~ 20km south of Kalumburu (19km along the main road to turn off/ 45 mins travel time) and ~10km inland (16km along the road/30-40m travel time)
- The track into Carson River homestead is not signposted. Track is just north of the Carson River crossing on the Kalumburu Rd.
- KPP tourism report: The main Kalumburu rd to the Carson River Station turnoff is a particularly rocky and rough section of the Kalumburu Road with an average driving speed of around 30km/hr. It is also very rough with one particularly steep crossing, numerous washouts and high vehicle clearance required. The access track could be easily graded except for one major creek crossing which is very steep = This was mid - end of 2012 dry season. Sep 2013 the Carson River Rd/track into the homestead had recently been graded so the road was in fairly good condition
- The Carson river station pastoral lease is held by the Kalumburu Aboriginal Corporation. The station manages a ‘community herd’ where cattle are primarily used as ‘killers’ for meat supply to Kalumburu residents.
- The station area is on the traditional lands of the Balanggarra people and local family Augustine Unghago. He and his family are recognised as traditional custodians of the area. The area forms part of the Balanggarra native title claimant area
SITE CONTEXT - TENURE
- CRS is bordered by an Aboriginal crown reserve to the north, north-east by UCL, south-west by Theda Station and south-east by Drysdale River National Park
- The boundary between the station and Drysdale River NP is unfenced so stock management is a problem
- Visitors travelling this far up the Kalumburu road are likely to either be travelling to Kalumburu to access the coast, intending to drive/ride the Carson River Track or attempting to access Drysdale River National Park which borders the pastoral station. All of these activities require permission from the DAA
- The Drysdale river national park is considered to be ‘the last frontier’ by travellers and is not well frequented due to accessibility issues. The park is a biodiversity hotspot with high conservation values, though there is little DPaW management in the area. Currently only a small amount of fire management takes place. There is a long range walk trail through the NP – only 7 or 8 groups currently register each year
- KPP report indicates that DPaW has shown interest in creating a tourism/ranger base at CRS
- as a means of controlling access to the national park. KPP report states creating ‘a base for ranger and station management provides capacity building and employment opportunities. The formation of a joint management agreement would also assist in the control and management of stock.
- The existing homestead and outbuildings are in a state of disrepair. No one currently lives on the property - It was last inhabited several decades ago (though cattle has been formally run on the property more recently – Ann Koeyers from Drysdale mentioned when it was last used?)
- Existing buildings and structures include a large hayshed/machinery shed, two ‘homestead’ buildings, sorting yards, loading ramps, generator shed, old water tank and tank stand plus a large cleared area to the east of the homestead with dozens of old tractors, cars, burnt out machinery etc…
- The various pieces of machinery could be of interest to visitors to look at, though poses a significant VRM risk – rusted metal, burnt out car batteries, sharp objects lying around
- There is an existing airstrip to the north of the homestead. This is not serviced but it has recently been graded. This could be utilised to gain access into the area in the wet season
- The station homestead and outbuildings are situated adjacent to a 90m wide section of river. Buildings are set back about 40 metres from the river edge. KPP report states there is evidence of a recent flood reaching the lower areas of the old homestead
- The old homestead buildings are made of corrugated iron and wooden weatherboard circa late 1970s and 1980s and the timber is in fair condition
- The western building is potentially the original homestead. It has a more primitive style of construction using corrugated iron and asbestos sheeting for the walls with central metal support posts which are in poor condition. The ceiling level is also very low in this building. This building is not really suitable for any visitor function. If the asbestos is removed then about 1/3rd of the exterior walls will be missing
- The homestead to the east has proper ceilings, internal walls (pressed board concrete) and windows. A large open ‘living’ area looks like it was an addition to the original ‘bedrooms’. The concrete floor in the living area is stepped down over 3 levels. There is significant internal damage (collapsed ceilings, smashed windows, general debris) though the structural integrity of the building seems intact. If the building was cleaned up and VRM issues addressed – this building could be similarly used as a historical showpiece or with more structural work and servicing could perhaps be utilised as a basic caretaker house
- All of the buildings and infrastructure will require a significant amount of work to remove the debris and rubbish inside and address VRM issues. If this can be done they may be suitable as historical remains for visitors to explore
- Online research shows this building was used as a ‘troubled youth’ camp in 2008. This central ‘living area’ was used as a dining room/camp kitchen with tables for the camp. The group also significantly cleaned up the interior at this time, so the current debris and manure has occurred since then
CURRENT USE OF PROPERTY – MANAGING CATTLE
- TOs manage a community herd? Cattle used to feed Kalumburu community
- AH stated that musterers were starting work while we were on site - removing approx 2000 cattle from the property?
- Cattle have free roam over the property though some fences do exist. District staff have been investigating installing new fencing to stop cattle movement into north west of property and into the national park – this task is likely to be difficult and costly due to accessibility issues and clearing required (tree and scrub removal). The success of this is also dependant on cattle not crossing the rivers
- Cattle will pose a VRM issue to a camping area so some additional fencing would need to occur
VEGETATION AND SOILS
- KPP report: The homestead area is predominately silty clay sand. Surrounding tracks are formed predominately over a sandstone, black-soil or silty-clay base which in unpassble in the wet season
- Vegetation near homestead is mainly savannah grassland and open woodland of trees up to 5 metres with some exotic shade trees
- The broader area is comprised of rocky outcrops, shallow laterite soils and vast areas of black soil plains. The prominent sedimentary rock is king leopold sandstone with basalt outcrops