Thursday, 14 August 2014

Memories, Dreams and Skies: Part Two

Something beeped and woke me up. I was getting quite comfy there too but I had a feeling I’d missed out on my biscuits. I looked out the window and below me was the East Kimberleys. River and creek systems wriggled their way everywhere. Tones of grey and brown. I could see a big turkey’s nest near a salt arm with cattle camped up in the corners of fencelines and wondered if we were directly over Legune and what I was looking down on was Salt Paddock and all those green patches were paragrass. Maybe we were over Bullo River, Carlton Hills or Newry. I don’t care, I’m going to keep thinking it was Legune.

As we came in closer to Kununurra old memories came flooding back. Last time I flew in here I was surviving on pain killers from a broken back and I’d just been to see the surgeon in Darwin and have MRI’s.
All the little farms looked like a patchwork quilt. The Ord River Irrigation Scheme stretched its way providing water for the farmers to grow their crops. TFS had taken over with their sandalwood trees. All the rock formations stood proud. The town was built around them. Not them smashed down to make way for a town. It was good to be back there. It had been 5 years since my last visit. I drove from Willeroo to Lake Argyle and checked out the Durack Homestead, watched the rodeo, camped the night and drove all the way back again.

The airport had changed. There was now an industrial estate (or it was way bigger if it had always been there). Weaber Plains Road was full of sandalwood trees. I pointed out to places along the roads and told my workmate “that was where the bus driver kicked us all off because the blokes broke out into a fight. Then the fight continued on the lawn and then the psycho cook pulled a knife and we all hid in BP until the cops came to arrest him. He was a frigging psycho. He got fired a week later”.

After the meeting we went to the Hoochery which I didn’t know existed until a few weeks back. It’s annoying that when I was at Legune our town trips were focussed purely on partying and nothing on site seeing and making the most of the town. Everyone must have thought I was a nut for taking so many photos at the Hoochery and getting so excited about it but it was a gap that needed filling and this would be my only opportunity for a while. Don’t worry peeps, I took a photo of a chia crop as well!

On the way out of Kununurra I felt like we were moving in to the future and I don’t just mean because of the time zone issue. In my mind I was moving from 2004 to 2007 to 2008 to now. I pointed out the Buchanan Highway “that’s where Kidman Springs is, down that road by 80kms” and the western boundary of Willeroo “it starts here and it’s on either side of us”. I pointed out Mt Alice from where it takes two days to walk the cattle to the yards and a gate that leads to another set of yards. I pointed out Augusta’s Crown, the homestead, the hill with the most awful name, Mt Leonard and the eastern boundary. “And my mate owns this place and sometimes I come out here to work or get away from town”. Every boundary change I changed the UHF channel to match, just for the hell of it. Nothing but static. Everyone had knocked off for the day. The station horses were chilling out in the Driveway Paddock.

By 8pm I was home. One whirlwind trip over and done with. Much achieved and learned. Much remembered and learned. Much changed. And for the better.

Memories, Dreams and Skies: Part One

“I always have this nightmare that I’m late for an exam or have failed an exam or not prepared for one” Our plane had issues and we were asked to disembark so we filled the time with random chatter in the airport lounge. It was unbelievably surreal as my recurring dream is missing my plane, losing my suitcase, passport or ticket, forgetting my suitcase, passport or ticket. There’s always some reason in those dreams as to why I can’t get on the plane, why I can’t fly. I have yet to have a dream where I am in an airport and actually embark the plane. I only get these dreams when I’ve been feeling a little lost in life, when I’m not quite sure I’m on the right path or I feel like I’m being left behind. I haven’t had them for a long time. The situation was made more surreal when I realised whilst sitting in the lounge that just before we got on the plane the first time and I was heading down the walkway ready to board I was thinking that I really felt that my life was finally going in the right direction, piece by piece, step by step.

I have a sense of freedom that I hadn’t felt for a long time. I don’t answer to anyone. My weekends are spent how I want to spend them. I have a job that is secure and pays well. I know where I will be sleeping almost every night. I have goals and ambitions that aren’t being pushed back and back and back. They’re being achieved. People’s opinions of how THEY think I should live my life are being ignored. I am answerable to myself, not to them. I will choose and walk my own path. I make the decisions. I choose to keep my Landcruiser. I choose to keep my original cows. I choose to live so far out of town. I live with those choices and I don’t need to justify them.

Finally the call to re-embark the plane came over the speakers. Conversations about university, camping and crazy people at work came to a halt. Before too long we were taking off, heading West and I was falling asleep to a sound I’d been hearing since I was in my mothers womb.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

What's In It For Me?

In late 2011 I was excited when I heard that the Country Women’s Association was reopening its branch in Katherine. I thought it was a fantastic way of giving back to the community so when a friend handed me a membership form I signed up and paid my $30 straight away. Being a new branch we were seeking plenty of women to recruit to be part of the cause. I’d ask my friends if they’d like to join and I got plenty of excuses “I don’t have the time for that sort of thing”, “I’m not a bake-y, crafty type”, “isn’t the CWA for little old ladies?” et cetera, et cetera. But the one excuse that pissed me off was “what’s in it for me?” Well, why the hell should there be anything in it for you? That’s not the whole idea of CWA. CWA is about giving back, not bloody taking!

But, if you did happen to wonder “what’s in it for me?” then I’d think you’d find there’s plenty. Making new friends for a start. That was why it was formed. Lonely farmer’s wives sick of their own company banded together and gave themselves a social outlet. Another reason would be an opportunity to learn new things. Whether it be off fellow CWA members or from a master class. The warm fuzzies when giving back to the community is a good reason. Money raised from events have gone to various causes like local sick kids, the Kintore Street School’s new bus, the Australian Outback Baby Project and the International Women of the World Association. That’s the best bit. Being able to help someone out that is less fortunate than ourselves.

And yeah, okay, it might take up a bit of time. I mean, heaven forbid, we have one meeting a month which takes up a whole of one, maybe two, hours. And then if we hold a stall members might be asked to put up their hand to volunteer to man that stall which might take 3 hours or more if you’re willing. But really, in the bigger picture, it takes up bugger all time. And the help required might not even be volunteered by actual members. Take the Katherine Show this year for example. We had a wonderful girl put up her hand to volunteer for a shift, my friend Kerrie who was up from New South Wales cooked and served customers all Friday despite going through the hell that is chemotherapy and I managed to rope my Dad to help pack up at the end of the weekend despite him having driven how many thousands of kilometres to see me and put up with me dashing off to do my shifts and fill gaps on the stall. And not to mention the sweetest cops who also helped us carry stuff to our cars upon packing up.

Taking the time out to be part of something better is fulfilling and rewarding. Soon, I’ll be adding spending time with the elderly to my list of philanthropic activities. But I don’t do it for the glory and recognition. It’s something I feel everyone should do at least once in a while. Help out. It won’t hurt you. And you never know, you might find there is something in it for you!