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.
From his workshop in the shed, Jack could hear Ash and Murray talking to each other as they walked back from their quarters. They were chatting about the footy season that had not long finished.
Jack called out to them. ‘Hey, come and take a look at the bikes.’ They nodded and wandered into the workshop, where the five freshly serviced bike were waiting. Jack had finished them off after Lisa’s return from town with his parts. ‘Murray,’ said Jack, ‘go ahead and grab the number one. The starter’s gone, so you’ll have to kick it, okay?’
Murray mounted the old bike, leaned over to check that the fuel tap was on and pulled the choke out. He switched the key and jumped down hard on the kicker, twisting the throttle at the same time. The bike roared to life in a cloud of grey smoke. Murray let it warm for half a minute or so before flicking the choke back off, and the bike settled into a steady idle. He waddled it out of the shed. All three dogs looked expectantly at him, waiting in hope for the command to ‘geddup’.
‘She runs good, Jack.’ Murray grinned, his teeth standing out brightly against his dark skin and short curly hair. ‘You fixed her up good, hey?’
‘’Course I did. Now grab your sunnies and go for a quick burn to make sure you’re happy with her. We can adjust the handlebars if you like. Get your eye in again – been a while since you rode.’ Jack looked at Ash. ‘You take your bike with him, but she’s tired, so no flogging her until you need to, right?’
Ash’s starter wound over a few times before the motor finally kicked in, again filling the shed with grey smoke while the engine’s splutter echoed through it. Ash’s bike didn’t run as smoothly as Murray’s, but he knew all the tricks to the old girl, constantly flicking the throttle as the bike’s idle slowly choked away.
Jack grabbed the trough broom off Ash’s ute and jammed it in the holder down the side of his bike. ‘Head out to Three Mile and check the water, both of you. Kelsie said the tank was low this morning so she left the trough full. Then we’ll start getting the gear ready for tomorrow.’ Three Mile was the closest windmill, unsurprisingly three miles from the house. Not a lot of thought went into some of the water-point names. Others were based off Aboriginal words, while a few others seemed to have been plucked at random, with no clue as to why the well-diggers came up with that christening.
The two young men rode off, slowly at first as they left the little house yard. The fine dust got into everything, so it was a strict rule to keep dust-raising to a minimum: a rule that the dogs had yet to learn. Mork, Mindy, Buddy and Tess ran after the riders, only stopping at the grid on the yard’s edge. Realising they weren’t going with Ash and Murray, they trotted back and lay on the veranda, their ears pricked up, waiting for the sound of the bikes’ return.
They didn’t have to wait long. Despite Jack’s orders to take it steady, two bikes could soon be heard screaming down the track as the riders raced each other home. The dogs bolted back down towards the grid, barking madly.
Jack shook his head. ‘Bloody kids,’ he muttered.
Ash was in front, but only just, and Murray was gaining, although he had to stay on the far side of the road to avoid being peppered with gravel flung up by Ash’s tyres. Before Murray could catch him, they reached the grid. Both slowed down and puttered to the shed, with four dogs dancing between them.
‘What did I say?’ growled Jack at Ash as the boys wheeled in, grinning.
‘Yeah, sorry, just wanted to make sure she goes alright,’ said Ash, looking sheepish. ‘And she goes like a shower of shit.’
‘Until you blow a valve – then you’ll be walking home, that’s a promise.’ Drilling riders to look after bikes that weren’t theirs was always a challenge, even more so when the young blokes competed with each other. ‘Go and see Lisa. She wants a hand to shift a few rocks out the back. That’ll slow you down.’
‘No worries, Jack,’ Murray said with another of his bright grins.
Despite his annoyance, Jack couldn’t help but grin back. ‘Go on, get out of here, before bloody Lisa does her back in.’
He watched the two boys walk out into the sunshine, wondering how much more competition there might be between them once they met Alexi.
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.