10 things I never thought I would do . . . until I moved to Fitzroy Crossing

Host: Aneka Collison & Hugh James
Written by Aneka Collison – Speech Pathologist, Gogo Station.

  1. Live in Fitzroy Crossing

If you had told me ten years ago, or even three years ago that I would end up living in Fitzroy Crossing, I firstly would have asked you ‘where is that?!’ and secondly, laughed. I had my life planned out – and wasn’t too willing to stray off that path. So, here I am, living in Fitzroy Crossing. The things you do for love and adventure.

I had a great career – running my own business, ridiculously busy, living in a beautiful large town/small city of Newcastle with wonderful friends and family.

My partner, Hugh, decided to apply for a job as a Ranger Coordinator for the Gooniyandi Rangers, and brought up the idea of moving from what my idea of perfect was to essentially the middle of nowhere. I did laugh, moan, and groan a bit as well, and then had to be serious in considering the option of moving. It all came down to whether or not Hugh got the position.

Hugh got the position.

I had passed through Fitzroy Crossing the previous year for two days when Hugh and I drove across Australia. I really didn’t know what Fitzroy was like, and it is very different passing through a place to deciding you wouldn’t mind living there. So, I booked a plane ticket up, and told Hugh he had to do all he could to convince me to move up to Fitzroy Crossing.

  1. Live on a station

I live on GoGo Station. My friends at home still giggle when I say it. Spelling it to people is also amusing ‘G..o…G…o….’. So, GoGo? Yes, GoGo.

We were in a pickle, as Hugh had a job, I had a potential job, but nowhere to live. In Fitzroy Crossing, there aren’t multiple options for houses or accommodation so we had to try to work something out.

Luckily enough, Hugh had worked as a ringer for Rick and Stacey on GoGo Station the previous year, and spoke with the two of them about possibly living on the station until we found accommodation elsewhere. They were happy for us to move into one of the houses, and we are still here today.

Living on GoGo station has been one of the best experiences and times of my life. We have had some wonderful times with ‘the station mob’ and I have made so many wonderful friends from living on the station. There have been wild nights (which included our lovely old grader driver dancing up a storm on the table), days of driving for hours to reach the best fishing spot or swimming spot, becoming friends with the poddies, learning about cattle and station life (I have never met a group of people who work so hard! I have a lot of admiration for all station workers).

1.1 copyStation adventures – a ‘short drive’ to the spot.

Living in Fitzroy Crossing has been so much more enjoyable and easier due to being able to live on the station, and we are very grateful for the wonderful fun living on the station has brought us.

  1. Go helifishing

One day, the station mob had the day off (this was always a funny part of our life on the station – as Hugh and I had ‘town jobs’ we had every weekend off, and would get to sleep in, go to bed when we wanted and not be utterly exhausted from the day’s work!) the planned activity was ‘helifishing’. I had absolutely no idea what that entailed.

Soon after we were all ready, packed lunches, fishing rods and ready to go. We had just adopted a little camp dog and decided that she could come helifishing too – the luckiest camp dog in the world, getting to have a chopper ride!

I had not been up in the choppers before. Each time I passed the hanger, or watched as they just made it back to GoGo before dark, all I could think of was that someone was controlling these tiny little choppers with a remote control. To me, they were so small, and it was amusing to think that people even fit into them, let alone worked in them!

So I was quite excited to jump into the chopper, and get to be flown by the little chopper to a ‘secret fishing spot’. I was dropped off, walked through the bushes, and arrived to a great spot on the river, where everyone was starting to get set up for lunch, relaxation, and of course fishing.

We had a wonderful time – Hugh managed to catch a little fish, we had a game of cricket on a sandbank in the middle of the river, and an all round perfect Sunday.

I now knew what helifishing was, and couldn’t wait to go again!

1.2 copy‘Helifishing’.

1.3 copy (1)Hugh caught a fish while ‘helifishing’.

  1. Not shower for multiple nights

I am slightly anal, and really like to be clean. Hugh laughs at me because no matter where we are, I have to have my face and feet clean before bed. However, living in red dirt country, camping often ‘showering’ is considered a dip in the river means that I have had to adjust pretty quickly to outback life and being dirty. It really isn’t that bad . . . but there aren’t many things better than coming home to a shower!!

  1. Spend more time in a swag than a bed

This one is pretty self explanatory. Within the first few months of being in the Kimberley during the dry, an event on each weekend, plus a whole heap of adventures to be had, I called my usual bed the swag, no longer a bed in a house. Hugh calls our swag the ‘million star hotel’.

1.4 copy (1)A night in the swag . . . again!

  1. Have a pet pig

Hugh sent me a photo of a little tiny piglet one day, and told me we are the proud new owners of a pig. Not something you really expect to be the ‘proud owner’ of, but we have a piglet! His name is Auto, he follows us around, goes crazy for weetbix and milk, and is pretty cute for a pig!

1.5 copyOur little piglet ‘Auto’.

We worked out pretty quickly that he needed castrating, so the other day, I assisted in the process. It is really something I never thought I would do. Castrate a pig, and have a pet pig. I endeavour never to eat him, but Hugh has the spit ready and waiting . . .

  1. Be disgustingly sweaty and hot and not even be bothered

Again, I like to be clean and presentable. When you live in the Kimberley in the wet, this is just impossible. There have been days where I have been out with the rangers or catching goannas with Hugh where I have been dripping with sweat, my clothes sticking to me, and drinking more water than I thought possible. However, waking up every day and knowing the sun will be shining is a pretty good way to start the day. When friends complain about winter at home, it is quite nice to be able to say, even in the dry, it is a lovely sunny day today!

  1. Go goanna hunting

Hugh studies goannas. And I am his sidekick. Often, unwillingly, (goannas are really scary!) but I always help out. There have been moments of sheer terror (again, goannas are really scary!) and laughable moments as well, even if at the time I wasn’t laughing.

1.6 copyAll smiles goanna catching.

One day, Hugh had forgot to bring his study equipment, so we ended up with a HUGE goanna in the back of the troopie one afternoon to take back to study at home, and then take back to the study site to release. It was a normal hot, end of the wet day, so the goanna was quite active. Hugh had promised me he had the goanna safe, and it would not get out. Of course, it got out. So, I am in a car, with a goanna lose. My first instinct is to get straight out of the car, not before screaming at Hugh, at the goanna, and just in general. I had in the meantime opened the car door and somehow jumped out, and began running the opposite way to the car. Hugh was calling me back to help him ‘catch’ the goanna. Was he kidding me?! Quite obviously I was not going to attempt that.

Somehow he wrangled the goanna and had it safe in a bag, opened just a little to let in some air. He then proceeded to get in the front seat, and said I would have to drive, or hold the goanna. I told him I wouldn’t do either.

10 minutes later I was driving as fast as I could back to the house so that I could get back out of the car and safely away from the goanna.

Needless to say, it took quite a lot of bribing to get me out goanna catching again.

  1. Hold snakes, lizards, pigs, crocodiles . . .

I had not ever held any of the above. I can proudly say that I have held multiple now! If there is something to be caught, Hugh will catch it, and try to quickly palm it off to me. The only thing I have ever said no to is a turtle which, in my defence, prior to asking me to hold it he said ‘this will probably bite you . . . but do you want to hold the turtle?’

1.7 copySaving a crocodile from a drying billabong.

  1. Have an adventure every day (or at least every weekend!)

The Kimberley is full of amazing places to adventure. This has been one of the best parts of living in the Kimberley. We have camped with different people – everyone has their favourite ‘spot’ – plus travelling the Gibb River, El Questro, exploring the Peninsula, camping out the back of GoGo, travelling down south of Broome all have been incredible. The Kimberley is such a beautiful place, and there is no way every day can’t be an adventure.

1.8 copyCape Leveque adventures.

1.9 copyBoating adventures with Darla.