The Campbell family have endured many setbacks living on the Nullarbor Plain’s dusty Kybo Station, but they aren’t going anywhere.
Story By John Denman
These days you can’t travel the length of the Nullarbor’s Trans Access Road unless you’re on a train. Since the railway was privatised, public access from the west finishes at Rawlinna, WA. But about 120 kilometres beyond this, on a rutted, pot-holed, bulldust-covered track, is Kybo Station.
The track into the station underlines the precarious nature of life on the limestone of the Nullarbor and is symbolic of the many hardships and difficulties that have beset Kybo’s owners, the Campbell family. “We probably would never have come here if it hadn’t been for the railway,” patriarch Rod Campbell says. “The changes in the railway haven’t done us any favours at all.” The railway once provided livestock-loading facilities, making it easy to move sheep and cattle to the saleyards and wool straight to the stores. “With privatisation all this was lost,” Rod says.
Like many before him, Rod started out as a jackaroo then went contract drilling and fencing – a tough calling in an uncompromising landscape. Rod and his brother Graeme took up Kybo in 1965 and a year later Rod married Jill. “We moved onto the station and there was this bore the railways had put down so that’s where we put the homestead,” Rod says.
Having to use whatever materials were handy, plentiful railway sleepers became the building material of choice. They turned out to be very durable and, years later, the homestead is still solid. “The house is warm in the winter and cooler in the summer,” Jill says. Rod and Graeme continued fencing, working on the homestead as time permitted.
By 1967 the brothers had put in enough bores and fencing to handle stock. They chose Merinos. “That was our first setback,” Rod says ruefully. “Our first shearing was just in time for a big crash in wool prices that year.” But it didn’t stop there. “We had a plague of foxes as well,” Rod says. “One night we poisoned 90 foxes off one ’roo carcass. The bloody foxes were killing for sport; they killed more sheep than the dingoes back then.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #60
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2008