The City – Country Juxtaposition

Host: Blina Station
Written by Constance Wood

I was getting really stumped about what to write for Central Station and worried that I was running out of ideas for interesting and relevant things to write about. I turned to our lovely station cook (who is also my mother’s close friend) and my sister in law, who has recently moved from suburban Melbourne out to Blina with her husband (Matt’s brother) and two young children. They suggested some great ideas about how different life in the city was compared to their lives out here. It got me thinking about my stint as a career girl in the city and my time at university compared to my life on the station now. It is a really interesting comparison.

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EARLY START: 6am in the city, out here we are already cracking by that time/sometimes having breakfast as early as 3.30 am.

BREAKFAST: Usually some kind of Bircher muesli or protein shake, sometimes even just a coffee in the car on the run in the city. In the bush, it’s a full cooked breakfast every day otherwise by 7am you are ready to chew your own arm off!

BEAUTY REGIEME: In the city, it was make up every day, blow dried hair. Trips to the beautician for tinting and waxing, a full head of foils. Facials and pedicures. Ask a bush woman about her beauty regime and she may say to you – what beauty regime?! We are really super duper lucky here at Blina as we have the divine “Ann’s Outback Beauty” over at Ellendale. Often I will sneak over there by myself or with a carload of jillaroos before a social event for tinting, waxing, nails and an evening of pampering by Ann and her ‘apprentices’, daughters Saskia and Keira (her daughters!).

GETTING DRESSED: In the city I used to be very conscious of my clothing and appearance. Having lovely crisp clothes for work and uni. Out here, we roll out of bed, pull on a work shirt out of the draw, teamed with a pair of jeans or rugby shorts, clean socks, a bandana and the same sweaty old hat day in day out. (Of course there are always trips in to town and race meetings that always call for a new outfit … every time!)

4-2-copyConnie Wood (Gray) and Yasmin Gray.

COMMUTE TO WORK: In the city we jump on a train, a bus, get in the car or taxi and fight the daily fight of getting to work during rush hour. Backed up traffic, squashed in buses and train carriages. Some people walk to work, but usually it is alongside a busy, noisy road. Out here, we might walk over to the kitchen for breakfast (less than 100 metres), then jump in the front seat of a helicopter, a road train, a horse truck. We may jump on a horse or in a  buggy or the inside of a dusty Toyota with a couple of dogs on the back and drive down a dirt track, where you are the only traffic bar a couple of Brahman cows and wallaby’s, perhaps the odd goanna or snake passing through.

MEALTIMES: In the city you might pre-prep your meals for the busy week ahead, perhaps you might drink protein shakes or grab some fast food on the run. Perhaps you will frequent your favourite café on Fridays during your lunch break as a treat. You might grab your morning coffee from the same place every morning. I doubt many people in the city would have a cook preparing meals for you every day. Our breakfast time is dictated by what is planned for that day, and all meals are prepared by the station cook. Break times generally run at 9.30 smoko, 12.30 lunch and a 7pm dinner. Work schedule permitting of course!

GYM/FITNESS/SPORT: In the city, I often used to hit the gym up to twice a day. A pump class in the morning sometimes followed by a body balance and then a spin class in the evening. You might like to run along the river, or hit a local boot camp session run by a P.T. You might like to go for a walk with your friends or hire your own personal trainer to help with your fitness. If you are in to team sports, you could join a team at your local rec centre and play netball or basketball or indoor soccer. For the more competitive you might join an affiliated netball team, football club, hockey, tennis etc. and attend training and games a couple of times a week.

Exercise is incorporated in to our jobs out here, mainly–running in the yards, riding horses and motorbikes. Scuffing calves and weaners, shoeing your horse, cleaning your house in the 40 degree heat! During the wet season, I run a boot camp session for Matt and I and we run laps up and down the hill from the big house to the generator shed, to the yards, out to the weaner paddocks. Our cook goes walking twice a day with the station dogs and my sister in law takes in the kids in the pram and walks around the horse paddock, sometimes she even does laps of her own veranda if the kids are sleeping or they can’t get out of the house for whatever reason. You have to find innovative ways to move your body sometimes, if you want to do a yoga session, or don’t know much about P.T you need to download an app on your iPhone and be very self-motivated!

4-3-copyGirls in Herbert’s Yard (Photo Credit Kerri Back Photography).

SOCIAL LIFE: After work in the metro area you might head down to the local pub for cocktails or perhaps around to another family’s house for a bbq dinner. You might go to the movies, or go shopping. If it your thing you might head out to see a band play or go to the theatre. You might head out to a nightclub on Friday and Saturday night and hit a Sunday sesh at the OBH in Perth.

In the bush, we don’t live right next door to our neighbours. My closest neighbour is 50km away and if I would like to head over there for a few cocktails, I can’t just jump in a taxi to come home. If you have a few drinks at someone’s place, you can either take a back road home, or the safe option, stay the night at their station or stay in town if you are going to an event there.

My sister-in-law has a coffee machine at her place, so instead of heading down to the local café for a gossip and a catch up with girlfriends. I go down and have a ‘real’ coffee with my sister in law and play with my niece and nephew and we can vent our spleens to one another.

We don’t have nightclubs, but sometimes on the night before a day off, the workers will have a few beverages, crank up the stereo and dance on the lawn outside the quarters. We might have a BBQ and a few beers outside the kitchen after getting a ‘killer’. Most of my shopping is done over the internet and I receive parcels in the mail, which makes it feel like Christmas.

4-4-copyHerbert’s Yards (Photo Credit Isla Bell).

COMMUNICATION: The city has super-fast internet. Mobile network coverage, free Wi-Fi in certain areas. People are constantly on their mobile phones or in front of a computer, sending text messages, on Facebook, emailing one another. They might use a landline in their home, but many people I know in the city do not even have a landline and use their mobile phone and internet instead. When I call my sister in Perth, I always call the landline, and she generally knows it is me, because hardly anyone else uses that number!

Out here we now have mobile coverage, but it is very limited, there is a certain spot in the big house and down at the quarters, where you can get 1 or 2 bars of service. We do have internet, but it is connected by satellite and ridiculously slow and often, does not work at all. We don’t sit on our phones, we talk to one another, and we get on the telephone and have a conversation. We can send emails now which is wonderful, but only a couple of years ago we were faxing everything to head office and receiving faxes in return. If we need to get a hold of one another on the station, we use a two way radio where only on person can speak at a time and we use these during mustering to communicate with one another while on horseback, Toyota, motorbike and with the pilots in R22s.

A big issue has been getting on the National Broadband Network. Because we are remote, they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that the tech can’t call us an hour before they come around, because we are situated at least an hour and a half out of town! They don’t understand that we have three separate installations at the same address. (One for the big house, one for the quarters and one for the family house). It provides no end of frustration when the persona on the other end of the phone actually doesn’t understand, nor care that your situation doesn’t fit in the metro box.

DISTANCE: Imagine driving 100km to work in the city, not many people would do it. Not to mention driving 300 odd km for a birthday party. Or nearly two hours to collect the mail and do a touch of shopping.

ANIMALS: Imagine keeping 10 thousand Brahman cows in your backyard in Perth! Or a horse, even 100 working horses like what we have here at Blina. What about a kangaroo? What about a team of working dogs, a camel, a miniature horse, a children’s python?

Can you imagine socialising a poddy calf down at the dog park? Or introducing a children’s python to your cat? I once took my feral bush husband and Kimberley kelpie to the dog beach at city beach, the bushman’s tan could have blinded you and the Kimberley Kelpie was the ugliest dog on the beach, not to mention petrified of the ocean. She tried to drink the sea water and then decided that you shouldn’t trust water you can’t drink! Taking the Kimberley Kelpie to the big smoke for the first time is a whole other story for another blog I think!

I am not saying that living the city is a bad choice, I am just pointing out how different yet similar in some ways our lives must be. And I certainly do know, as I have lived both. I gave living in the city a red hot crack, but I am so much happier living out here in the bush, even with all the challenges it brings.

4-5-copyRiding Out. (Photo Credit Kerri back Photography).

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