Host: Miss Hollywood
I’m hosting as a ghost writer this week … coming from the sparkling lights of Hollywood to the remote West Australian outback after twenty years in the film biz, the last six living and working in LA. A far cry from phone reception, fast cars, five star restaurants, valet parking and high speed internet, let alone the bitumen and the local latte at the coffee shop on the corner. To make this week special, my plan is to disguise the station I’m on and explore the incredible, glorious life that has been thrust upon me. After isolating myself from family and longtime friends, I emerged from the hectic LA industry/lifestyle/party scene to find myself cocooned by a sea of stars, crystal clear fresh air and pure spring water coming from the earth which threw me for a six with its’ clarity and first hand touch of nature. This is so easily forgotten with the distractions of city life. Primary production … a phrase I hadn’t used since school days, was about to provide the beautifully refreshing reconnection to the land that I had been craving. It’s cool how life sometimes just gives you what you need and lucky for me, my wish was granted …
Okay … wow, what a trip! Now it’s time to wrap up the last three weeks. I could have never predicted this life experience was about to happen, what was going to be in store for me and how much I learned. One of which I most appreciated was everyone on the stations’ ability and resourcefulness. Being so isolated, it’s going to cost a mere $3,000 for an electrician or a plumber. So if the dishwasher breaks down, it is probably best that you do your darnedest to fix it yourself or have someone on hand that knows their way around one. I was so impressed at my old school friend, “Burger”, and how much she had grown from the girl I met when I was four years old. With so many years now under her belt on various properties with her also very impressive “Flyboy” husband, they have built a world that their staff are lucky to be involved in. After such drastic times when the live export ban was enforced, they weathered this storm and have come out the other side as one of the most promising properties in the Australian cattle industry. I’m just a little proud to say the least!
“Burger” came to my rescue many times during my stay. One of the first being the time I had been filling up the dish washing liquid in the store room. After my city girl patience had enough of waiting for the slow trickle coming from the huge bulk tub above, I decided it would be a smart time saver to set the sink bottle carefully below the stream and would return to the refilled bottle in about ten minutes. About an hour later “Burger” asked me if I’d filled the detergent yet …? I couldn’t have jumped to my feet faster, saying a very rude word as I did. We rushed into the store room to find it covered in green slime … the sink bottle was indeed full. We carefully scooped the spill with an old paper box into one of the styrofoam containers from a previous meat delivery and managed to save most of the overflow. Needless to say, I mopped up the rest resulting in a sparkling clean floor and freezer, with many apologies, and a lesson of an accident you only do once!
This was the beginning of me earning my station nickname, “Calamity”, which I continued to earn throughout my stay. After the first muster was complete, “Tom Cat’, “Spider” and myself were sent off for fence mending duties in preparation for the southern paddocks upcoming muster. The boys were starting to trust me with a few jobs now as I was keen to pull my weight. I always like to think there is never a stupid question and I had many for them as I didn’t want to do the wrong thing. I learnt on day one, things can go south real quick so I think they appreciated my caution. On this day, we made our first stop at one of the furthest dams from the homestead after quietly listening to various conspiracy theories “Spider” loves to share with the young ringers. You spend a lot of time with each other out here so you’d better get used to telling or listening to yarns and different points of view. As “Tom Cat” looked over the generator, “Spider” had me up in the back of the ute, pumping fuel from one of the barrels into the tank for the bore below. As I happily turned the handle feeling quite excited to be helping out, I did not realize that the fuel had begun spilling out of the tank and onto the boys. Their yelps got my attention but it was too late … they were both covered in diesel! What a great way to start the day. Luckily for me this meant that it was necessary for the boys to take off their sodden shirts and continue the rest of the day working in only their jeans. Oops! I must say I like to put a positive spin on things … the clean store room and now I found myself sandwiched between to shirtless cowboys, I was rather enjoying myself as you girls can imagine 😉
Yes, it was a tough day for me!
Making up for my error by washing the boys down!
Over the years of being in the entertainment industry, I’ve been known for my lounge room DJ skills when winding down with the crew over the weekend. I channelled this ‘talent’ while watching our phenomenal chopper pilots as they danced in the sky above me. I had started thinking of an epic movie soundtrack playlist for my Burger’s Flyboy on the flight to Broome … which came to fruition during an inspired drive during the long muster. I had realized our beloved junior pilot, the same that had caught Mad Dog’s (the govie) eye, had taken control of the chopper and with the thought of his first time mustering in the air in my head, I hit play over the radio with a Luke Skywalker Theme from Star Wars to echo in his ears … after letting it play for about a minute I was gushed to hear the reaction from the boys … “That was Epic”… “I think I just shed a tear!” ….so I proceeded to entertain the other two pilots with themes that I thought appropriate … SPIDER got the Imperial March made famous by Darth Vader (I knew this would piss him off so of course I had to play it for him) … and then for my WHITE KNIGHT, I played a track from The Man from Snowy River … a charming muster song that triggers heart strings and mushy emotion. I was blessed to then acquire the addition of ‘DJCJ’ to my radio call … bringing these guys some fun and reality of how cool it is what they are doing, is a gift that my uneducated experience can supply. Respect!
Another thing I got to appreciate was the business side of the station. The day to day chores are relatively easy, but it’s the planning, logistics and general running that keeps this place moving. Our daily accounts/operations controller, “The Fish’n’Chip Bitch from Ipswitch” was a golden member of the team here, which our truck driver, “Lucky” had grown to appreciate immensely. So much in fact that they had recently welcomed their first love child to the station, much to the delight of everyone around. The importance of selecting your crew out here is tangible as your world is the people you surround yourself with. A director once said to me casting crew for a production is just as, if not more important than casting your actors. Another similarity here on the station, and as “Burger” continues to play mum to all, the guys and gals also appreciate her care in selecting their workmates, housemates, friends and sometimes lovers!
This trip could not have come at a more perfect time for me. Being at a bit of a crossroad in my life, getting back to some real life lessons couldn’t have been more welcome. It is easy to get swept up by the film business and the false reality that surrounds you. The egos and agendas of people can be very misleading and can test your patience at the best of times. Working in the ‘glamorous’ movie biz is more often not so glamorous with tight budgets, long hours and location shoots that can have you standing on the side of a road at 3am, waiting for an actor to finish hours in a make-up chair before they are deemed picture ready. Sometimes you might be faced with a situation where an actor doesn’t agree with the dialogue as written, so the crew all have to wait around while frantic writers and producers rework the scene until everyone is happy and the cast can proceed in delivering their dialogue, not all fun. I can’t complain too much, having met and worked with some amazing people over my life so far and being paid to travel the world. It has given me much life experience which I found helped me a great deal out here in the beloved Kimberley. I again found myself in a privileged position, this time being able to share in the phenomenal world that my dear friend “Burger”, “Flyboy” and their family had created. This experience blew my mind in the best way possible and opened my eyes to a new world I’m excited to spend more of my future life in … I can’t thank my hosts enough and as “Calamity (of the overflow)” will have to curb some of her ways, with many lessons to learn, I hope she’ll always be as ‘entertaining’ as her first visit … ‘til next time.
Watching the moon rise.