How 360 channel country tyres were turned into mats, troughs and garden beds

Eric Barker, 03/06/2022

Busted tyres have been building up on channel country properties, with a company heading west to upcycle them. Photo: Owen Henry

WITH busted tyres building up on an aggregation of pastoral properties in Queensland’s channel country, a Sunshine Coast upcycling company has made a more than 4,232km round trip to turn them into handy infrastructure.

Most of the tyres were repurposed into rubber mats, which can be used around water troughs or to reduce slips and trips in cattle yards. The tyres were also made into silage tarp weights, water troughs and garden beds.

Taurus Mats founder Owen Henry said with western Qld channel country being so remote, tyre stockpiles had been growing.

“With the stations buying tyres in bulk and investing in tyre changing equipment, the tyres are stockpiled for reuse elsewhere around the station,” Mr Henry said.

“With tyre stockpiles growing particularly on the larger stations, the pastoral company were seeking for a method of responsibly dealing with the tyres and subsequently reducing the stockpiles.”

The team processed 322 4WD tyres, 32 truck tyres, three grader tyres and three loader tyres 68m2 of matting, 386 sileage tarp weights, three water troughs and three garden beds.

Owen Henry and his crew made a more than 4000 kilometre round trip to reprocess tyres. Photo: Owen Henry

Mr Henry said the company had trialled the remote mat manufacturing before on a smaller scale in far north Qld – with the aim of reducing freight bills.

“Having successfully completed two of these trials we felt confident that we could replicate the process on a much larger scale on the Qld/NT border for this project,” he said.

“When we had a rough strategy for our trip, we loaded up the truck with machinery, tools, consumables, safety gear, water and diesel – triple checking that we had not missed anything because once we were on the properties, it would be approximately four hours travel (8 hrs return) to the nearest major centre of Mount Isa.”

Tough tyres to work with

While there was an abundance of tyres on the properties, Mr Henry said some of them were unable to processed into mats.

“The tyres proved to be the hardest tyres we had ever dealt with – especially the sidewalls,” he said.

“This makes sense for number of reasons as the unforgiving terrain that the vehicles travel on makes short work of tyres that are even slightly soft. Most of the time a punctured tread can be repaired but a hole in the sidewall generally makes the tyre unusable.

“When mentioning usable tyres, we quickly discovered that there were quite a few tyres in the stockpile that we couldn’t utilise. Using damaged tyres would compromise the strength or integrity of the matting.”

Mr Henry says a lot of the tyres in channel country were hard to turn into matting, with a small percentage running down all their tread. Photo: Owen Henry

Finding new uses for tyres

Mr Henry said the group moved to the next station to find the similar problem of few usable tyres and they had to work hard to put a mat together. He said the manager and staff came up with some ideas to use they tyres with too much tread for matting.

“On top of the matting we had requests from the staff to see whether we could repurpose tyres off the station machinery to make up raised garden beds and water troughs for horses.

“Loader tyres in the stockpile were the perfect size for the raised garden beds with tyres from the station grader proving to be the right size for the water troughs.”

Some of the unusable tyres were turned into water troughs and garden beds. Photo: Owen Henry

Mr Henry said turning tyres into troughs was tough work, but the group managed to make it happen.

“It proved to be a bit of a challenge sealing up the grader tyres. However, we persisted and eventually stopped the leaks – managing to transform a waste item into a near unbreakable 500L trough complete with a float valve protector,” he said.

Mr Henry said the trip proved repurposing used tyres in the remote part of the country was possible with a bit of persistence.

“While the weather had been hot and almost unbearable, we had figured out ways of overcoming problems that could have otherwise ended the trip prematurely,” he said.

“Throughout the trip, it was refreshing to be able to communicate our issues to people who were prepared to listen, understand and find solutions.

“Examples like working in with the yard builder or changing to working undercover out of the heat went to show that outback ingenuity and hospitality is up there with the best in the world.”


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