Thursday, 31 December 2015

Twenty Fifteen

Happy Hogmanay (Scottish for New Year)! It’s that time for my annual reflection. 2015 was a momentous year for me. For a significant chunk of it I worked two jobs. I officially finished my “first” year of my bachelor of law (it has taken me 3 years to do so). I got to celebrate the 30th birthday of my best friend since childhood in Adelaide, as well as my own 30th birthday and my cousins’ 21st.  I sadly said goodbye to a number of people: Tony, Tommy and Grandma Haby and some close friends of mine moved away back to South Australia. However, all the birthdays mentioned and the passing of my Grandma meant that I went to Adelaide a record three times in one year. And every time I flew out again it pulled on my heart strings. At least I got to see Dad twice and nearly all of my family across those three trips.
In September I signed paperwork to say I would be in debt forever as I bought 74 acres north of Katherine. Big enough for me, the horses and Kip. It’s complete with two dams, brand new fencing, a capped bore and the standard weed problem.
More minor milestones include the most useless working dog ever finally figuring out the impact she has on cattle (in a positive way). She surprised me twice in the year. I had a good calving rate despite the fact Capone was probably not responsible for ALL the calves. His wigglers were tested and came up average so he’s not underperforming but a fence jumper could be the baby daddy of some of the calves.
The ever lame Ruby finally found some relief in the form of my friends’ skill in Bowen therapy. Charger is still soldiering on despite reaching 24 years old. Two friends enjoyed rides on him as well as a newby from Switzerland. He liked taking the newby for a ride, his cheeky and sadistic sense of humour shone through that day but she enjoyed herself and didn’t fall off so yay for me! I finally bought a saddle. It only took me four years to get my act together and a number of months to pay it off.
I got to spend two weeks with some barristers in Adelaide so I could get a much better insight into the legal sector. I spent a lot of time in the Magistrates Court sitting in on criminal cases (a psycho stalker, a hydroponics enthusiast, two trespass cases (one of them included a previously convicted neo-Nazi and most of the witnesses were bogan liars), an alleged rapist, an alleged assault and a bunch of smugglers or something or other). I spent a day in the industrial relations court (where there was another witness that wouldn’t stop lying). There were a few mentions that included a rather messy and expensive divorce and a real estate dispute. There was also an inheritance dispute where the respondent didn’t even bother to show up. One of the barristers gave me a research project which made me feel less like a loafer/tag-along.
I became a finalist for the Rural Women’s Award (finalist by default). This led me to head off to Brisbane for a Rural Leaders Bootcamp with a co-worker which was an excellent course. I also got to see a smidgen of Brisbane while I was there which I hadn’t seen since I was 12.
There’s been a lot of learning, growing, sadness, happiness and challenge this previous year and every part of that rollercoaster was worth it because a merry-go-round is rather boring in comparison.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Failing in the Big Smoke - Part One

As Bet had said “bushies in the big smoke” she’d nailed it on the head. Here I am in Adelaide, trying to look professional while failing to catch the right bus and on one instance fail to be on the right street to catch the bus. And on buses and trains that aren’t free I failed to properly wave my borrowed metrocard for my fare. I’d failed to wear the right shoes on my first day and almost a week later my feet are still paying for it. I was left unattended in the City on late-night shopping night and drained my bank account of about $170 in just over an hour (it could have been worse, much worse). At least the children in my life are now all sorted for Christmas presents and I have a few new clothes.

According to one fellow work experience girls’ facial expressions I’ve failed at being a work experience girl. She looked me up and down at how I was dressed (city chic with a Territory touch I reckon) and stuck up her nose at the fact that I didn’t bring a writing pad to jot down notes in a court session. And heaven forbid I’m only a first year law student yet I’d managed to get my foot in the door for work experience with not one but TWO chambers in Adelaide. Needless to say I actually haven’t done that much work. The poor dear had to eat said facial expressions on Friday because I was one of four work experience girls at a submissions hearing that didn’t bring a writing pad, she was the only one who had.

On Saturday I failed at bowling despite the talent I should have inherited from the Miller gene pool. I needed bumpers just so I would hit the pins. I failed at dressing up for Halloween. My “Pugsley” stripes were pathetic compared to the costumes of my Uncle, Aunty, cousins and niece whom I had never met despite the fact she is now 15. Her dad, my cousin, I hadn’t seen for 14 years and that was at my Great Nanna’s funeral.

Sunday saw me failing at appearing to have a conversation or eat. Having woken up to a cold didn’t help the situation. I got to meet my cousin Greg who I had not seen for 15 years and the last time was at his brothers’ funeral. My memories of him were so vague due to the briefness of my past interactions with him.

Despite all my failings I’m having a great time. I’m constantly gobsmacked at how appallingly people dress for court and their “classy choices” in neck tattoos. NB: If you, for whatever reason, are required to attend court, it’s not a good look to go in tracksuit pants and a Wu-Tang jumper which so many bogans’ do think appropriate to wear.

The one thing I hope I haven’t failed at is my exam that I sat on the Thursday. I’m looking forward to next week however and failing at other city things as I try as a bushie to cope in the big smoke.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Tourist Guide: On Ya Deadly Treadly

You see them everywhere up and down the Stuart Highway. Out in the sun. And you look at them and think “What the hell is wrong with these people?” Their possessions that maintain their survival are strapped down everywhere that they can fit onto the smallest vehicle possible… a bicycle.

I think they’re all a bit mad. Who the hell would want to cycle that far? The general excuse for their absurd form of transport is that they want to see more of the country. Our country that might not change much in the form of scenery for hundreds of kilometres.

My housemate has a habit of bringing in stray people and letting them stay for a night or few. The first stray I met was a cyclist from Germany. He was determined to pedal around the world on his deadly treadly. One day, after he’d left, my colleague and I saw him pedalling his way south towards Mataranka so we stopped him. My colleague is a rather abrupt individual and told him that’s he’s already a madman for cycling across Australia in general but to be doing it in October when the build-up in the Top End is at its most extreme. Florian shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t care about the weather. He just wanted to see the place.

The most recent stray is a fellow from Melbourne. Yes, an Australian. He’s chosen to be as mad as all the Europeans and Japanese we see on their bike along the highway. He had the same reason for wanting to do so and that was to see more of Australia. He’d at least reached the Northern Territory when the weather has become somewhat more acceptable for extreme activities of exertion. He filled us in on why we see so many Japanese people riding their pushies around. Apparently their out to prove to the friends, families and colleagues back in Japan that they’re responsible. I’d say it was proving insanity more than anything as these people choose to start in the middle of the Wet Season.

I’ve always wondered though, if these cyclists don’t understand how big Australia really is? You can fit just about all of Western Europe into Australia and Japan could fit a gazillion times over. Yet, if they are aware of how big our nation is, it hasn’t deterred them, it just makes them crazier. How they survive the heat has me bluffed as well!

If there is someone out there reading this that plans on seeing Australia from the seat of their bicycle I have one suggestion for you: Just catch the bloody bus!

To follow Florian's journey head to this website:

To follow Oscar's journey head to this website:

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Douglas "Drama" Daly

I could feel myself fading, even after cup after cup of water. The Fading is always a warning sign of an on-coming migraine and when I woke up the next morning that dark cloud of pain that takes hold of the whole left side of my head was there. Despite needing to be on the road by 5am I took my time getting ready. Breathing heavily, sweating, head spins, a churning stomach. I managed to have the car loaded and was pulling out the driveway by 4:50am.

I picked up Han at 5:45am and told her she could drive, I feel like crap. Her Aunty questioning my judgement while laughing. Next was Johnny’s place. I tried to nap in the car while waiting for Mr Iran to arrive but to no avail. I laid on the bitumen instead while Johnny gave me strange looks.

I did quite well until 2km south of Hayes Creek. ‘That feeling will pass’ I said to myself as I breathed deeper trying to rid myself of the gut churning sensation… Nope, no it’s not. I slapped Han on the arm as I tried in a kafuffle to push aside my pillow and take my seat belt off. “What? What’s wrong?” asked Han as I couldn’t hold it any longer and I blew chunks all over the car door as I tried opening it while we were still travelling at 100km/hr.

“I got it on my sleeve!” Round two came up, then three, then four as we were still moving but at least slowing down. By the time we stopped I was bringing up rounds five and six and a weak seven. I had run out of stomach contents to spew. Exhausted from heaving up everything my digestive tract had to offer, my head spinning and pounding, I called for water. Han got out her water bottle and started rinsing down the door and then wiping it down with an old shirt. Once it was clean enough we stopped in at the Hayes Creek Roadhouse and cleaned the door down properly with warm soapy water.

“Where are you guys?” asked Mr Iran when he called Han.
“Tigger’s migraine is playing up, we’re just cleaning up.” Not sure if he understood that but whatever.

Finally we turned in to the Douglas Daly. I was feeling a little better but suffering had decided to inflict another of God’s creatures other than myself. Someone had hit a wallaby but hadn’t killed it, only paralysed it. It tried in vain to stand but all it could manage was to writhe around in one spot. Han and I decided we had better put it out of its misery. After an unsuccessful attempt at slitting its throat the action taken was to run it over which killed it instantly.

Eventually we made it to the trial site. “What happened?” asked Mr Iran? Nope, he didn’t understand earlier comments about my migraine playing up and needing to be cleaned up.
“I vomited all over the car door,” I responded.
“You sick! You go back to the farm and lie down?!” Not much gets achieved if I’m doing nothing and by this point I was feeling somewhat better. The rest of the work for the day got done without too much incident.

It wasn’t long before the next adventure though. Chasing mobile phone signal had me catch my eye on something that appeared to be fluttering. On closer inspection it turned out to be a dog. He was going blind and he couldn’t get up. His legs too frail to support his weight. I ran to the managers’ house but all the lights at the front of the house were out and the dog-car was gone. I could hear a car coming so when it drove over the grid I pulled it up.
“There’s a dog dying on the road by the office, Tater isn’t home, I don’t know what to do about it”. The bloke tried calling over the radio but no one could get hold of Tater. The dogs’ collar said “Blitzen” so I sat with Blitzen’s head in my lap, soaking wet from a combination of sweat and drizzle. Fortunately Tater’s girlfriend was about and came to see old Blitzen on the road. Tears were rolling down her face as she realised it was finally his time. She guessed his age to be about 16. His birthday was Christmas Day, hence the name Blitzen. The Bloke and I lifted Blitzen carefully onto the back of his ute and we took him back to Tater’s house where we rested him on the back veranda and put an old rag under his head for comfort. There was nothing else anyone could do until Tater came home.

After dinner I looked at the time. 1940pm. ‘Those ladies from Darwin should be here by now’. The rain pelted down outside. Wondering if they were okay I texted our other Darwin cohorts and they hadn’t heard a thing. Apparently they didn’t leave till 5pm but that still meant they should have arrived by now.
“We’ll finish dinner and go look for them Han,” I said stuffing my face with the stew that I had burnt like a master chef.

The wildest thoughts ran through our heads as we lapped all the roads leading in to the area. The phone was constantly abuzz with phone calls and text messages. Roadhouses, Darwin colleagues, the police. What if they’ve had a bad accident? Why is Ricci’s phone going straight to message bank? Why aren’t the police doing more? By 2300pm we decided to head back, we’d checked everywhere that we could. By 2330pm we were in bed, wondering if we’d get any sleep from worrying so much.

It was dark and I was in a car, the devil was teasing me to run him over. Part of me said don’t do it, part of me said the evil needs to end. I ran him down then checked underneath the car for his carcass and found a dismembered scarecrow instead. The scarecrow recollected himself. “This is the devil now” said the people around me. “If you stab him he’ll never let you live without regretting it” some remarked. I plunged the knife into his chest. Teddy Bear fluff puffed out of his wound. “I’m sorry, but you’re the devil, I didn’t know what to do!” I stammered. He looked at me and poked some of the fluff back in.

RI-I-I-I-I-I-ING!! My alarm went off. What a frigging whacked out dream! During the night I received a number of text messages asking for updates. “They didn’t arrive during the night” was the only response I could send. Even Ricci’s boyfriend had got hold of my number and was asking if there was anything that could be done.

While everyone still slept I snuck out and had one last check at the Tourist Park. Nothing. I called the cops again. Had they been out to any accidents during the night? No. But just as I arrived back at the turn off, there they were. I stopped the car and ran towards them.

“Oh my gosh! Are you guys okay?”
“Yeah, we’re alright, we just missed the turn off and got bogged up the road, that couple pulled us out”, referring to the canopy ute that lead them to the turn off but kept on going.
The rain had been so heavy and they looked on the wrong side of the road for the sign that they whizzed straight past the well sign posted turn off. Covered in mud they slept in the car while the mozzies feasted on them.

The cops were called off, everyone we’d had phone contact with was notified of their safety. I nearly cried from relief.

When we got back to the farm Johnny asked “Has anyone told those two young fella’s that were here last night looking for them that they are okay?” What two young fellas? I must have been in such a deep sleep that I had not noticed that a car had pulled up looking for them. It turned out to be Ricci’s boyfriend so Ricci rang him to let him know that she was okay.

The rest of the week went without much drama. Probably because it all happened in one day at the very start. But what’s the Douglas Daly without a little drama eh?

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Blue Rinse and Scones

I’m a member of my local CWA. For those who don’t know what the CWA is, the acronym stands for Country Women’s Association. It was founded as a social outlet donkey’s years ago for housewives in rural areas. Over the years the CWA progressed from being an opportunity to catch up with friends to being the back bone of rural Australia. Come drought, come flood, come fire, the ladies of the CWA were there providing support to their local communities. They’ve quite often been the main support network of many rural towns. They’ve knitted beanies and booties for premi babies and provided lunches for fire fighters on the front line. There’s nothing charitable that these women haven’t done.

These days though, the demographic of CWA members has changed dramatically. Unfortunately, there are still some people out there that have a stereotypical image of what a CWA member looks like. Picture an old lady, bitching and whinging with a blue rinse through her hair, nibbling on scones and drinking over brewed tea.

So for those that are aware of what the CWA is when I tell them I am a member I get the “So whatya’s do? Sit around drinking tea and eating scones? Isn’t the CWA for old ladies?”
Ummm, how’s about a big, fat NO! Which is where I begin in putting them and their clichĂ© image in their place…

In the CWA branch of Katherine we’re generally aged between our mid-twenties to late forties and you’re more likely to find us looking for ways in which we can help charities and local organisations. For example, we helped contribute to the Kintore Street School getting their new bus, we’ve made donations to the families of sick or injured kids who need ongoing treatment, every year we do a fund raiser for ovarian cancer and we’ve made donations to other charities that benefit women and children.

Our events are a combination of masterclasses and fundraisers and we try to hold at least one event a month as well as our meetings. Masterclasses have included crochet, bread making, jewellery making amongst other things. Our last fundraiser was a wine and cheese night. There goes that tea idea!

Despite all these great things that we have done and are planning to do we’re falling short in only one department… Members! We have plenty of financial members but only a select few that are committed to attending every meeting and helping organise events. Our office holders (president, vice presidents, secretary, treasurer and international officer) have quite often been the same people year in, year out and the poor, worn out souls need a break.

But if you think you’ve got what it takes to make a difference in the Katherine community, even if you are only interested in being an active member and not so much an office holder then come along to our AGM on the 19th of April, 10am at the Finch CafĂ©.*

*To be eligible to vote or run for office you’ll need to be a financial member by the 18th of March. Contact the CWA Katherine Facebook page for a membership form.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Big City Life

I’m starting this a little late and it now seems that the events of last week are now so far away. Maybe that’s because they are almost a life away. I’d lived a life that week that was not like my own, all in a matter of a few days.

Thursday was my last day at work before I went on holidays. My colleagues threw me a birthday smoko in the afternoon which made me feel quite special. Ren made me a birthday cake, Han made mini pavlova’s and even the entomologist made a mango cheesecake.

The next morning I drove to Darwin. I attempted some shopping and failed (I bought nothing). I visited a friend at her business and then I caught up with another friend at her workplace for lunch at which she saved me from choking on a noodle I had accidently inhaled because I was laughing so hard! Then I went to work... well, a branch of my workplace and humbugged and disrupted various people from their Friday afternoon tasks while the mid afternoon sky was darkened with heavy, monsoonal clouds. After Friday drinkies with the Darwin colleagues I went to dinner with Khams, her cousin, her friends and their friend’s friend. After kicking butt playing pool with Khams as my team mate I caught the plane to SA. Red eye, because that’s the only way to fly in or out of the Darwin airport.

Dad picked me up in Adelaide where I insisted on being allowed a nap. I didn’t get much of one before Dad returned from a spending spree in a tool shop and kicked me in the foot. Such a considerate way of waking someone! As punishment I dragged Dad through Rundle Mall looking for a birthday present for my cousin and something black and white that didn’t look stupid to wear to her party that night.

And here is where the life I wouldn’t normally live begins. Lunch was at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Dad had a miniature steak that was still running around his plate and I was served a salad in a ceramic egg carton. We were, for the most part, surrounded by wealthy women, in clacky heels, who were sipping on white wine and whinging to each other about how hard their lives were. After that it was a stroll through high-end fashion history in the Fashion Icons exhibition. It wasn’t long before I was told off for misbehaving... by a security guard, not by Dad. Apparently it’s not okay to take photos of a Christian Dior outfit that has been photographed a gazillion times already by people that have fancy cameras. There were some really nice outfits in there, some really weird shit too. Who wears a wet suit when they’re not partaking in water activities? I mean, come on!

Dad and I visited art galleries and the Mortlock Wing of the State Library where Dad gave me glimpse of his life in 1973 when we found some old electoral rolls. I bought a knock-off of an Ivor Hele painting from the Royal South Australia Society of Arts. I wasn’t sure that it was a knock off at the time but the title suggested it may have been. Everywhere we ate was either Italian or fancy (Sean Connolly’s restaurant... whoever he is). Everywhere we went there were frigging cyclists in their skinny suits trying to let everyone in the city know that they rode bicycles just like Cadel Evans. We got stuck behind barricades for ages because of the Tour Down Under on King William Street. Lucky I had my new art acquisition to shade me from the sun. We were mesmerised by magic and stunts at “The Illusionists: 1903”. We saw family and friends throughout the weekend, WAY more than I would normally see on a typical trip to Adelaide, including my sister and nieces for lunch on the Sunday who looked absolutely disgusted at my choice of a meal (squid ink linguine). Dad departed Adelaide on the Monday and Mum and Peter arrived. I celebrated my 30th birthday with many members of my family and friends. Mum, Peter and I saw the Australia Day fireworks at Elders Park and stuffed our faces at the Pancake Kitchen with my best friend since infancy.

Tuesday saw us fly in to Port Lincoln where I insisted that lunch was not going to be a pie because I can get a damn pie anywhere in this country. My alternative being a pot full of steamed mussels with a lovely sauce drizzled over the top. It took me about 10 minutes to devour over 30 mussels. They were good! Del Giorno’s for those that want to give those mussels a try themselves! Mum and Peter ran errands while I caught up with a school friend. And then it was over. The high life was finished. Because we drove back to Wudinna, where very little happens except twice a day the grain train rolls in to town and there’s the occasional dust storm. Other than lunch at the cute little cafe in town with Mum and Nanna I spent my time working, sleeping or giggling with Nanna or breaking her sewing machine (just a needle I swear).

And today, I begin the long, unwanted return to Katherine where back to reality I must go.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Recipe: Tastes of Indonesia

Lately I’ve been working a second job caretaking a property outside of Katherine bought by foreign nationals hoping to make their own mark on the northern cattle industry. With them they have brought some cultural differences in the form of little delicacies and cuisine.

Despite my hesitation at trying common Indonesian food in Asian restaurants I was put in a situation where it would have been rude of me to turn it down. So there I sat, in a strangers’ house, with the biggest plate of nasi goreng in front of me. And actually, it wasn’t too bad. It was like the snag and scrambled eggs of Indo… with rice and sweet soy sauce. I now know there is something not too scary for me to eat if I ever travel over the Timor Sea.

I was given a little gift for my initial efforts. A box of Dodol. Think Cadbury Roses but Indonesian style. It’s like a soft toffee of indescribable texture and taste but it is sweet. Nehalennia translated some of the words on the wrappers for me given she grew up in Indonesia. There was chocolate, honey, milk, sesame, date and one we couldn’t figure out what is was.

And then this week there was another couple of gifts. Kuwe koya. I was told it was like cake but upon opening the wrapping is was more like a compressed biscuit of powdered sweetness with a pomegranate filling. It was alright except for the pain it caused in my teeth. And then there was Brem. I was told that was fermented sugar. Nehalennia said it was fermented rice paste. I tried the teeniest bit and thought it was sherbet gone wrong. Very different and requires an acquired taste.

But who knew foods of Indonesia that wouldn’t normally be found in your typical Asian restaurant would end up in my belly. Trying foods that don’t make sense to me (fermented sugar) and flavour combinations I wouldn’t ordinarily think of as a sweet (sesame Dodol). But there you have it. Because the world comes to Australia to try its luck and brings with it their foods. Just as it has since the Chinese brought us tom yum and dumplings in the mid 1800’s. Though I wouldn’t know what that tastes like… yet.

Resep Dodol Betawi
Instagram photo by alidaida99 - Hari ni punya hidangan :) Nasi goreng buatan sendiri hehe :D #Selamatpetang  #Silamakansemua
Nasi Goreng
Kuwe Koya