Hello again. I have just returned from another amazing trip – to Adelaide, up to Broken Hill, back to Adelaide, up to the Alice and then up to Darwin. Still the best way to see the best part of the nation in my opinion – the outback by coach. The amazing Greyhound drivers once again transported me safely up the Stuart Highway, delivering me into the Alice for a day, enroute to Darwin. My thanks to them all – in Qld as well – and to Dee Gurd, the supervisor in Adelaide who bent over backwards to help me.
This trip actually gave me the opportunity to tick off a couple of the items from my bucket-list. First, flying in a smallish aircraft – I grabbed this chance from Adelaide up to Broken Hill. And it didn’t disappoint – it was fabulous. Unexpectedly I also found myself being able to fly on/in a helicopter – at last!! Better than I’d ever imagined and cannot wait to go again.
Up in the Hill, due to a misunderstanding at my accommodation, I actually spent the first night with the wonderful Mary and Peter Beven. Not quite sure what I would have done without them to be honest – the Agfair was on the same weekend and all accommodation had been booked out a long time in advance. Never mind. It all finally worked out. I managed to work on the book while there, as well as spending some hours on the Saturday at the Agfair. I also attended the annual RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) ball – what a fantastic night! Also included was a look around the amazing Silverton, the Hill itself – and I even managed to meet the hugely talented outback artist and one of the ‘Brushmen of the Bush’ Jack Absalom – a lovely gentleman even if I had no idea who he was at first. And finally the Beven family station, Sturt’s Meadows. There were many other highlights too – all will be mentioned and expanded on in the book.
Back down the Barrier Highway, through more very familiar countryside as we passed through Mannahill, Yunta, Oodlawirra, to my next stop at Terowie, where I was staying with the fantastic Jacki and Peter Mattey on Franklyn Station, which is next door to Pitcairn. A wonderful day there included a tour of their numerous properties around Terowie – although I used to live in the area I had never before seen any of this countryside – another first for me. This tour included something rather – unusual…no other way to explain it. I had never seen anything like it before and am quite sure I’ll not see anything like it again. On Thursday we drove down to Adelaide, again passing through very familiar countryside. I left the Matteys on the Saturday and spent a further couple of days in Adelaide before catching that wonderful Greyhound for the trip up north.
My fleeting visit to the Alice was terrific and I have two more locals coming onboard from there, all of which is wonderful. On the Friday evening, I caught the next and final coach up to Darwin. This entire trip passes through many stations which I found absolutely fascinating and am trying to find a map showing them all. One of these stations is Erldunda, which is now a superb roadhouse and tourist centre while all remaining part of the working station that is Erldunda and which used to belong to very good friends of my family’s.
And into Darwin. Still my favourite capital city – so like a big country town. I had a lovely view from my hotel room and again managed to get a lot of work done while also having a few lovely walks around the CBD – and – here is where I was able to tick that third item off my bucket list. Seeing crocodiles in the wild. And I would not have missed it. Nor the entire day out.
Time to come home – I flew back to Perth on the Tuesday. Now to continue with the actual writing of the book. And catching up with all the wonderful retired pastoralists again – starting to finalise it all.
As with each trip, I have had some amazing and many very – eye-opening – experiences, some of which will be mentioned in the book – others will remain forevermore silent.
In August, I plan to cover the WA stations, the final state. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I have not been able to physically visit every participating station, but all of them will still be included, provided they wish to. They will be done by email. The comp details for the cover design and title for the book have now been issued to all, or most, School of the Air – or Distance Education, bases nationwide so that is underway. And I have finally begun sending out those promised copies of Dad’s book, ‘The Sawers From Pitcairn’.
As for that ‘something different’ and unusual eluded to on Franklyn station – well, you’ll just have to wait to read all about it in the book.
Annual RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) Ball