The following is an excerpt from the book ‘Ridgeview Station’, which you can purchase here.
Many of Peter and Kelsie Dalton’s friends thought they were crazy when they bought Ridgeview Station. But five years on, their hard work, help from Kelsie’s parents, and record rainfall have them in high spirits as the summer muster approaches.
Realising they’re going to need more help this season, Peter rings around the neighbouring stations to try and find a good worker. After a glowing recommendation, Alexi arrives to give them a hand – and is not at all what they’d expected …
Everything is going smoothly with the muster before disaster strikes and the Dalton’s find themselves battling to save their livestock, their property and their lives.
An entertaining yarn set on a vast outback property peopled with colourful and authentic characters, Ridgeview Station is about love, loss and the spirit of the bush.
Once lunch was over, Pete helped Lisa clear away. He sat back down with Jack, who was halfway through ordering the motorbike parts over the phone.
When Jack was done, he handed the phone to Kelsie, who dialled Bethany’s number. A long pause followed, and Kelsie looked like she was just about to hang up when someone finally answered.
‘Bethany, it’s Kelsie here from Ridgeview–’ she started.
Pete watched, amused, as his wife listened attentively, clearly trying to decipher what Bethany was saying. The elderly woman had a major soft spot for Kelsie and was always up for a long, meandering chat with her.
Finally, Kelsie grabbed an opportunity to cut in. ‘Bethany, we need some good fellas to help us with the muster next week. And they need to be handy on motorbikes. Are Murray and Gav around? They’re good boys, those two.’
Kelsie listened to Bethany’s answer, nodding and smiling a few times, before grabbing a chance to cut in again. ‘Murray will be great thanks, Bethany,’ she said, giving Pete and Jack the thumbs-up. ‘Yeah, anytime in the next few days is fine. He just needs his work clothes and some strong boots, and we’ll have the rest. Thanks so much for your help. We’ll see you Thursday.’
‘So what about Gav?’ asked Pete once Kelsie had hung up.
‘She says he’s got himself a traineeship with one of the mining mobs.’
‘So, who else might be up for some work?’ Pete wondered. Staff were always in short supply at busy times, though thankfully it wasn’t as bad these days as it’d been during the peak of the mining boom.
‘Didn’t Graham say he has a backpacker who’s finishing up shortly?’ Lisa asked, sitting down. Graham and Joy Lyndhurst, husband and wife, owned Nangoo Station on Ridgeview’s northern boundary. ‘His name’s Alex, I think Graham said. If he’s not done with the bloke, maybe we can just pinch him for a few weeks.’
Kelsie handed the phone to Pete with a smile. ‘Your turn.’
Pete sighed and plugged in the number. Unlike Bethany, Graham picked up on the first ring. Pete was happy to have caught him while he was back for lunch. After they’d made small talk, Pete said, ‘Lisa tells us you’ve got a backpacker.’
‘Yeah, mate, Alexi,’ Graham replied. He paused, and Pete was about to ask him for more details when he said, ‘Not a bad sort. From Estonia.’
‘We’re a man short for a muster next week and need someone who’s comfortable on a bike. Reckon you could swing him our way for a bit?’
‘Maybe. Alexi’s a little unsure about where to go next. Very handy on a motorbike. Hang on, I’ll ask.’ Pete heard muffled voices, and then Graham came back on the line. ‘Yep, I’ll drop Alexi off on Thursday. How’s that?’
‘Perfect. See you then. And thanks, mate.’ Pete ended the call and turned to his family. ‘Looks like we have our staff sorted. Now just let’s hope they both turn up.’
Although Pete felt relieved, he couldn’t help wondering why Graham had hesitated before saying ‘not a bad sort’. Surely Graham wouldn’t give them a dud worker, so maybe Alexi just wasn’t the friendliest bloke.
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time they’d had a casual worker like that. As long as Alexi could hold his own on a bike, they’d be set.
Want to read more? Purchase ‘Ridgeview Station’ here.
Michael Trant is a WA country boy just beginning his new life as an author, following a wide range of careers from marine draftsman to farmer, and pastoralist to FIFO pot-washer. Michael is now based in Perth, having grown up on the family farm at Eneabba, before moving to Geraldton then out to Yalgoo. His debut novel Ridgeview Station was inspired by his time on Gabyon Station, and he highly recommends a visit for those curious about life on a sheep station.
When he’s not writing, Michael can be found plucking away at his guitar in attempts to replicate his idol Tommy Emmanuel, or swearing at his beloved Fremantle Dockers. He still travels to Three Springs to drive tractors ‘just to keep my hand in,’ but despite the advent of autosteer machines, refrains from taking the laptop to write, as that would not end well for power poles, fences or trees.
Michael began writing with his highly successful blog – ‘A Farmers Way of Life,’ where he used humour and anecdotes to give an insight into life on a family farm. The blog is now archived, and he has commenced work on Wydjawanna Writer, taking the name from the original title of Ridgeview Station.