The adventure certainly does continue. I am now in Cobar, somewhere near the middle of NSW.
Sally Henery was lovely enough to drive me from Alpana Station to Port Augusta so I could visit my own old SotA base there. And I did. However I had been unable to contact that SotA for a few reasons (none to do with anyone at the base), to warn them of my impending visit – so I was not expected. But I did meet the Vice Principal who was wonderful in taking a few minutes to quickly show me a lesson in progress – via the internet. A far cry from the ‘old’ SotA days. She also gave me her contact details so I am now able to keep them up to date about the cover design and title competition and SA’s isolated families will be included with all the others nationwide.
Down to Adelaide for a busy couple of days, meeting people and I did manage to catch up very quickly with one of my brothers and sister-in-law. On my way yet again, heading north east toward Pitcairn – and then straight past it. Countryside and towns all very familiar. We were actually an hour late leaving Adelaide (very annoying reason for this which might – or not – eventually be revealed) and were unable to completely make up that time, while also trying to avoid kangaroos in the latter part of the trip. But full marks to our brilliant driver, Mitch, for her efforts. Our ETA in Broken Hill was 11.25 pm but instead we lopped in at sometime after midnight. All the other passengers had homes to go to up there – but not me. Oooooh no, I had to be different and believe me – that’s not a good idea when you’re in an unfamiliar town at that hour of the morning. I have been to The Hill before, many years ago, but my memories are not strong. I didn’t recognise a thing after the ‘Welcome to Broken Hill’ sign. My next coach was due to leave at 3.30 am – so, as can be guessed, not a lot of sleep was enjoyed. None in fact – I didn’t get to bed. I did have everything organised – or so I thought – but therein lies another story.
Anyway, I caught that 3.30 am coach and arrived in Cobar on time at 9.25 am. Following instructions I found my way to the local race course in time to see preparations in full swing, for the Cobar Miners Race Club Annual Race Meeting. Now, to say this event was a vision to behold – just amazing. Absolutely and truly amazing. The bright colours, the sheer professionalism, the atmosphere, food and drink etc. Huh? This was an outback race meeting? Not the Melbourne Cup? The fashions were straight out of a magazine for goodness sake – and they were easily equal to or better than those of any city meeting – including the hair styles – perfect. Sharon Harland, Editor of The Cobar Weekly did suggest that I should pack appropriate attire for this event, including a fascinator – and I did. Not the fascinator but the rest was there – in my case and there it stayed. By the time I reached the race-course at first I was a tad beyond worrying about how I looked. Then I was just too darned excited and happy to be there – so, yes, I stood out like a sore thumb – also because I am not a local. Sharon’s suggestion should have ‘warned’ me – but I honestly don’t think anyone could have prepared me for that event. These people know how to do it in style. I did get some wonderful photos, even if I do say so myself. Including one of the Mayor. Poor lady – but such a gracious person and her outfit – wow. I’ll never forget her – but hope she might forget me. The day and event itself – also unforgettable.
Finally – out to my next station. Kallara Station. Home to another amazing couple, Julie and Justin McClure – and family, all away at school. Julie’s Uncle Max had attended the races and was good enough to drive me out after the day was over. My thanks to you, Max. Julie and Justin – like Sally Henery (I didn’t meet her husband David – he was away for my visit) – are powerhouses of energy and information. So warm and welcoming, bubbly, that fantastic outback sense of humour – and could not have been more supportive with information. These women leave me lost for words. The men too and in many cases these stations have been in their families for at least a couple of generations – anyway it will all be covered in the book. Needless to say, there is no way that I could do what they do – live out there and all that goes with it. My hat goes off to all of them.
I had a wonderful time on Kallara, being made to feel completely at home. Took heaps of photos, had a ball. Yesterday morning, when it was actually drizzling, one of the workers dropped me back into Cobar on his way home to Dubbo. My thanks to him for that.
I continue to meet many, many locals as well as those on the actual stations and getting heaps of photos – some of which will not be included – but many will. As time is against me for this trip, particularly as I am being swamped with information, I have more or less settled into a ‘routine’ – in that I am making a point of meeting people as I can and if they have a story to tell which is in any way relevant at all, I introduce and explain myself, give them a business card (thank goodness I brought heaps), take a photo if necessary and contact details, mentioning that I will be in contact again once I have returned home. This includes those on the stations themselves.
I am starting to have people actually approach me – this is a new world to me.
Next stop, Coonamble and my last station for this trip.
I continue to absolutely thrive on this and looking forward to the next leg, Qld.
Sally Henery did mention that she could see how much I was and am loving doing this – that I am in my element – Sally doesn’t think I’ll ever finish this book because I am enjoying the research just a bit too much – and she could well be right.
But it will be published – somehow – sometime.