HAPPY AS A PIG IN MUD – Story by Jodie Sewell

With most of QLD still in drought, Brad and I recently visited clients from Bourke through to Tambo and back down to Dirranbandi and Walgett.

Clients at Enngonia were lucky to get a freak storm on their place, along with an unwelcome deluge of roos.  They were about to head over to Weilmoringle – “the back of Woop Woop” – a quick half hour as the crow – or the plane flies – to have dinner with friends.  “Back of Woop Woop” is all relative out here with many arguing that living at Enngonia, one is already out the back!  The drought – now in its sixth year – is starting to take a toll on many families but they still manage to look on the bright side and hope for rain.  One family at Charleville is so sick of the heat and the dry Tasmania is starting to look very attractive – out of the fire and into the freezer!

Dry times have been around so long we were not surprised to see a “Rainmaker” in Charleville in the local park.  Erected in 1902, there were originally six of these Stiger Vortex cannons brought in to fire “rain producing gas” into the clouds.

Up at Tambo discussions centred around the age old problem of finding good employees.  Brad brought in a consultant last year who is working with the clients to write up enterprise agreements to attract the right kind of staff.  Along with this is an extensive rebuilding and repair program for the large number of cottages on the property and we were fortunate to find a family-run contract building enterprise which travels around the outback districts doing exactly this kind of work.

Then down to what really seemed to me to be the back of Woop Woop – a very long drive – several hours – down very long, red dust roads to Bargunyah.  It was 42 degrees with a hot dry wind, blowing a constant cloud of red dust.  The coolest living thing we had seen for hundreds of miles was the pig reposing in his mud pit.  One partner travels to Toowoomba – 700km away – to work ten days on, 10 days off. No options for FIFO here unfortunately!  The teenagers are still being home schooled over the internet in a separate, very well set up (and airconditioned) cabin, with a constantly changing parade of foreign “home tutors” doing work stints before hitting the east coast. I had a look at the school of the air timetable, and there is not much time for slacking.  It will hold the children in good stead when they finally hit boarding school next year.

I have to wonder just how prepared these young European girls are when they arrive at remote Australian stations.  I really don’t think anything could prepare you for the heat and the isolation.  I used to believe that you had to be born to the outback life, but since meeting so many city brides I’ve learnt the city people can live and thrive in the bush.

“And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended

And at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars”.

Banjo Patterson

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