Today I would like to introduce a guest writer to my blog. Sue Wicks is an amazing lady that I have known since she first came to Mount Isa, and I was pleased when she volunteered (with slight persuasion) to guest write about our day in the outback yesterday with Aussie Helpers.
Article by Guest Writer, Sue Wicks:
Hanging on the wall in my office are two Budd Photography originals. The one of Trevi Fountain makes me smile with fond memories of my month in Italy. The other is a montage of leaves that reminds me to get myself outside, and at one with nature, more often.
So when Ros Budd rings and asks me to come to West Leichhardt Station with her, of course I jumped at the chance. An opportunity to stand by and watch Ros take a stark rugged landscape, and turn it into a work of art! Who wouldn’t want to climb onboard?
Then she told me the reason we were going was for a photo shoot of two volunteers under the Aussie Helpers program. I had heard about Aussie Helpers being in Isa recently – care packages, a delivery of copra, and now two volunteers spending time at various stations in our area. I was keen to find out more.
To top it off, we also had the pleasure of taking Brian Egan out with us. Brian is the founder of Aussie Helpers, and his story is of a genuine man of the land, who fell on tough times, and struggled for years until he was told to “find someone worse off than you, and help them out”. And Brian and his wife Nerida have been doing exactly that for 11 years now.
When we arrived at West Leichhardt Station, we were welcomed with a cup of tea and bickies by our hostess Joan Croft, and her husband Ron. The Crofts have a way of saying you are welcome at their station, without using words. The warmth in their eyes, their genuine smile, and their gracious hospitality, were exactly what I needed. I forgot I was a visitor, and felt very much at home.
We soon started chatting with Jackie and Steve and heard their story. As volunteers, they packed up their home in Melbourne and are spending a few months in our region. Their role is simply to stop in on station owners and say Hi – partly to lend a hand, but mostly to lend an ear. We also met Brad Power, another Aussie Helper from Mount Isa. Brad and his wife Julie have been helping in very tangible ways to support the farmers in the Mount Isa region.
The drought is something everyone in Queensland is talking about. The coast talk about their dying lawns; we in Isa talk about water restrictions and not being able to wash our cars. But the cold hard truth is that station owners are counting dying cattle. And not a few, not just dozens, but hundreds. This drought has certainly caused financial and emotional hardships on cattle station owners, like Ron and Joan. Having Jackie and Steve around – with their gentle nature and capable attitudes – at least shows that someone cares.
And the care packages that Aussie Helpers deliver, would surely bring a smile to their faces. From cup-a-soups to gourmet coffee, the care packs are a great combination of basic necessities and a few of life’s luxuries.
One of the many dry dams on the property. It is little wonder the cattle are having such a hard time surviving.
The stark reality of the drought… a graveyard of stock that didn’t make it…
One of the heartbreaking jobs that station owners are faced with every day in a drought is checking the cattle and rescuing from bogs in the ever decreasing water levels of the dams. The cattle get bogged in an attempt to just have a drink. The rescues aren’t always successful
I came home with a reminder that life is tough, but people are good. I made some new friends, and hope to drop out for a cuppa with Joan and Ron sometime again soon. Don’t forget, they also offer farm-stay type accommodation for anyone wanting to experience life on a station. Contact Joan for more information, but what a great way to see a cattle station at work, enjoy some outback hospitality and appreciate our unique landscape.
And Ros, ANY time you need an assistant…just give me a yell. I’ll be there! 🙂
Words thanks to Guest Writer: Sue Wicks 🙂
Photos ©Roslyn Budd – www.buddphotography.com.au