Coming Home

Host: Yougawalla Station
Written by: Jane Sale – Manager, Yougawalla Pastoral Company.

Trying to pack to come home takes at least a full afternoon and into the evening. We had School of the Air laptop and bookwork, as well as my laptop and paperwork, on top of that we had Christmas and Tilly’s birthday while we were away. We not only had to pack all our stuff  into four suitcases, I had to try to leave only one case with what we would need until we got home and make sure each case stayed below airline weight  restrictions. It was as always a logistical nightmare.

We arrived in Broome to flood warnings and the road was cut to Fitzroy Crossing. A couple of days stuck in Broome catching up with mates? I can think of worse places to be stuck, problem is this gives you time to run around and grab all the parts and stores needed on station which means MORE STUFF!

Locked & LoadedLocked and Loaded.

We set off on a Saturday morning from Broome fully loaded. The first leg of the drive was great. On bitumen, looking at all the beautiful green feed, fat happy cattle grazing on the side of the road, and how far the mighty Fitzroy River and all the waterways we drove over had risen. We arrived in Fitzroy Crossing and stopped for fresh food stores, MORE STUFF!

Fully LoadedFully Loaded.

Then for the hard part. The people looking after the homestead at Bulka Station for us said the road was fine there and they hadn’t had rain overnight. The road through our neighbouring station Christmas Creek we were not sure about. So Haydn made a call to the homestead there and we were told, “The road’s a bit sticky but the creek’s not up you should be right.” So we were on our way, off the beaten track.

It was sticky all right, but in between huge puddles and windscreen washes we once again marvelled at the thick high grass and fat, happy cattle. The windscreen washes became less frequent as the washer fluid ran out and about half way there at Wangkatjungka Aboriginal Community I realised with much relief that we had phone service where we never had before so I thought we should make a quick phone call to a friend back in Broome to tell her “. . . if we didn’t call back by the evening it was because we were stuck on the road between there and Bulka homestead and please send help. Don’t stress too much we have heaps of food and water on board but although Broome was a nice place to be stuck, the side of a muddy road with two kids and our new Home Tutor was not an ideal place to be for too long.”

Happy Fat CattleFat Happy Cattle.

Making WavesMaking Waves.

The road was, well, let me just say I am glad Haydn was driving because I wouldn’t have kept my cool or had the skill. But while I was a tad anxious, the kids were screaming out for Dad to go faster and complaining that he wasn’t making waves for them through the puddles that we didn’t have to drive through. With screams of joy and a sigh of relief from me, we arrived at Bulka safe and sound.

The Christmas Creek was up and we had to head in from there by helicopter which Haydn had left there in the hope that we would have too much rain to drive the last leg to Yougawalla. The kids jumped out of the car and were gone. I tried to call them back to meet Lisa and Marika who had been looking after the homestead for us, but that was it for them. They had been in the city, planes, and cars too long they had found space and they were going to make the most of it.

After a chat, a cuppa, and a phone call to my relieved Broome friend, it was time to load up another vehicle and only the rumble of the chopper starting up was going to bring the kids back to attention. With it brings more excitement and the promise of getting home to their pets.

Bulka SwampBulka Swamp.

The last leg was the easiest and the quickest, for me and the kids anyway, once again we were staring out in wonderment at the grass, the waterholes, and most importantly the fat and happy cattle. Haydn had a couple more trips back to Bulka to get Lauren, our brave and adventurous new Home Tutor from Canada, who you will meet later in the week and he had to start hauling some of our accumulated STUFF home.

Fully Loaded AgainFully Loaded Again.

Through the dusty and then hot months of the dry season and the build up to the Wet you realise how surreal all that water is. It is a land of such extremes, when I left the country was crying out for it. I have come home to a transformation to revel in, which I am extremely grateful. These few luscious months we will make the most of, we cannot get complacent because we will spend the rest of the year just dreaming about it and hoping for the season to be kind to us again the following year.