Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 1

Friday, February 5, 2021, was a milestone day at Kent Saddlery, when a long awaited event actually happened! It was the culmination of a dream, begun soon after our shift to the New England Highway.

And now, it’s here! Wahoo!

During the 30 years of Outback cattle station visits, Lyle and Helen have become accustomed to seeing windmills. In flat open country, they appear as a dot on the distant horizon, growing bigger and bigger and bigger as the truck comes closer. They’re to be found on station complexes, along creek beds and beside highways and station tracks.

Some spin wildly, without restraint, some squeak and complain loudly, some stand unused, silent and still, and a few “sing” melodic repetitive tunes.

During the day, cattle will gather around a mill and adjacent “turkey’s nest”, tank and drinking trough, kept full by a pump transferring the water which is brought to the surface by the power of the windmill. It’s a wonderful cycle of interaction between the natural elements of wind and water, which brings refreshment and life to people, cattle and the earth.

Windmills, as in the stories of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” and “Goldilocks”, come in different sizes: small, middle sized and big and when the Saddlery windmill dream was about to come true, the decision was unanimous… BIG was the way to go!

When we shifted Kent Saddlery to the Highway, Lyle had a dream for a windmill out the front. His first experience with large working windmills began in 1968 when he worked at Brunette Downs Station on the Barkly Tablelands, NT and then later in the Victoria River region of NT at Humbert River Station. Windmills were a common sight and were essential pieces of equipment for keeping water supplied to the cattle.

Kent Saddlery’s COMET windmill, assembled on the ground and lifted by crane to its height of 50 feet, with a 30 foot wheel, is not by any means the biggest sized windmill around (e.g. the windmill at the Longreach “Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame & Outback Heritage Centre” is bigger!) However, it’s certain to be a distinctive landmark in South East Queensland, at the entrance to Stanthorpe on the New England Highway (Kent Saddlery’s hometown and a great place to visit).

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 2

Photographer: Nigel Wesley (

During their travels to Outback cattle stations, Lyle and Helen had previously met Gary Haines, a windmill expert who had extensive experience in working with windmills. Gary’s keen interest in windmills began in his teens. Lyle and Helen had talked with him about the possibility of acquiring a windmill, so when it became evident that their dream of a Kent Saddlery windmill might come true, they contacted Gary.

Numbers of windmills on the Barkly Tablelands (and Australia Wide) are presently being phased out and replaced by solar pumps; a sign of the times, and a windmill from Barkly Downs Station on the Queensland/Northern Territory border near Camooweal was available. Many phone calls and arrangements followed and Gary drove to Barkly Downs to spend two weeks dismantling the mill. We then arranged transport for its long journey from Camooweal to Kent Saddlery.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 3

The parts lay lifeless on the ground at Kent Saddlery while site permissions and inspections took place. We were also waiting for COMET parts to arrive. Thankfully, in January, 2021, Gary arrived to begin the work of assembling the windmill. He was ably assisted by an enthusiastic and skilled Matt Kruger (Matt Kruger Contracting) and Kent Saddlery’s Nick Watson and Josh Furness, who added their respective skills to the venture.

A windmill is a complicated and fascinating piece of machinery, with numerous moving parts. Fitting together this ‘giant jigsaw’ gave us an insight into the skill and innovation of the designers of the first windmills.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 4

It was an exciting moment on Wednesday, February 3, when Gary, using his feet, applied the pressure needed to operate the mechanism at the centre of the wheel. Although the assembled sails remained horizontal, at ground level, the symmetrical shadows began to move in a circular motion.

It was such a buzz!

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 5

On Thursday, February 4, the tail was attached and the wind-catching ability of the mill was complete.

The windmill’s frame had already been cemented in place, and other hidden and virtually essential parts were adjusted and re-checked for accuracy and safety. All was in readiness for the big moment on Friday morning, February 5.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 6

Photographer: Gail Paulsen

At 8am on Friday, February 5, the cable of a Bellingham crane ( was attached and the slow lift of the windmill’s wheel and tail began. It required precision and patience and under Gary’s supervision, the top of the mill was bolted together. The whole operation went very smoothly. For onlookers, it was a spectacular and significant event.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 7

Lyle’s dream of bringing a symbol of the Outback and our Aussie pioneering heritage to Kent Saddlery has come true.

At the windmill site and at ground level, visitors will find an identical replica of the windmill’s wheel head which will give them an understanding and concept of the mechanism working high above their heads. Nearby, the tank holds the water which will be pumped by the mill and then recycled.

The tank stand, in keeping with the windmill, is an authentic structure, completed by Ryan Fisher of Frontier Furniture and Timber Products ( For Ryan and Kent Saddlery, the tank stand is much more than a strong, purpose-built part of the windmill project; it’s a work of art, created with precision & perfection, which close inspection will verify.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 8

Philip Seibel, Bellingham & Co Crane Hire. Matt Kruger, Matt Kruger Contracting,
Gary Haines, Windmill Expert. Josh Furness, Kent Saddlery. Nick Watson, Kent Saddlery.

In the not-too-distant future, a water trough, which came with the windmill from Barkly Downs, will be erected, supported by iron-bark rails which will be made and fitted by Ryan. Other dreamed of features, will include a story board, a fence mural, and covered picnic tables for patrons, and a path will lead to the Saddlery store where everyone is welcome to “Come on in and smell the leather!”

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET!

We’re very excited and satisfied to see the sails of the windmill turning in response to the wind, be it gentle or strong, and its our confident hope that this magnificent windmill will stimulate a WOW response and provide a focus of interest and enjoyment for many locals and travellers alike.

Lyle and Helen would like to thank Gary, Matt, Ryan, Josh and Nick, and also many local businesses who contributed to this venture.

Welcome to the Kent Saddlery COMET 9

Photograph by Honeysuckle Cottages ~
(Accommodation right next door to Kent Saddlery)