Host: Miss Hollywood
I’m hosting as a ghost writer this week . . . coming from the sparkling lights of Hollywood to the remote West Australian outback after twenty years in the film biz, the last six living and working in LA. A far cry from phone reception, fast cars, five star restaurants, valet parking and high speed internet, let alone the bitumen and the local latte at the coffee shop on the corner. To make this week special, my plan is to disguise the station I’m on and explore the incredible, glorious life that has been thrust upon me. After isolating myself from family and longtime friends, I emerged from the hectic LA industry/lifestyle/party scene to find myself cocooned by a sea of stars, crystal clear fresh air, and pure spring water coming from the earth which threw me for a six with it’s clarity and first hand touch of nature. This is so easily forgotten with the distractions of city life. Primary production . . . a phrase I hadn’t used since school days, was about to provide the beautifully refreshing reconnection to the land that I had been craving. It’s cool how life sometimes just gives you what you need and lucky for me, my wish was granted . . .
It was over a wonderful dinner while catching up with two of my longest, best friends from school days that the idea was born. Who knew that my life was about to take a dramatic turn into it’s next chapter, propelling me from the constant helicopter fly overs in LA . . . to chasing helicopters as they dance in the air with the cattle muster on a remote cattle station in The Kimberley . . . awesome!
I had just returned from six years of living in the bright lights and fast living that working in the LA film industry provides. The blessing that comes with my role in the business is working very closely with the actors and director, writers and producers whilst communicating technically with the camera department, make up, hair, props, lighting and costume. I am heavily involved in the story element of shooting film and TV, so storytelling has become, in fact, always has been a great love of mine. Ever since I was seven years old and my Dad read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to me in bed each night and did the most wonderful voices for each of the characters, I was charmed with the magical places that could be created with words.
Twenty years later, after working with the likes of Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Isabella Rosalini, and Martin Sheen, I found myself on a plane to Broome with a girl I’ve known since I was four, heading to the million acre property she manages in the remote Kimberley region . . . heart racing and nerves of the unknown were kicking in. I’m a person who likes to go into things prepared and knowing what to expect. It was fast becoming obvious that I was plunging into the deep end and no matter what questions I asked before, they would not prepare me for the day to day life on a cattle station where things can change in the blink of an eye.
Welcome to Cattle Country! A little different than LAX . . .
We set off before sunlight on our 8 hour drive to ‘The Station’. An egg and bacon roll in hand (the best I’ve ever had!) from a roadhouse that serves roadkill as jerky, what better way to start on the road to the new world I was about to embark on? The drive was a fog ridden, mysterious ride as I gazed out my window to the silhouetted ‘burn’ that gave us a mystical view of the passing trees against the sun rising in the sky . . . beautiful!
Snack and souvenirs.
Time went by very quickly as we arrived at Fitzroy Crossing, our last stop for supplies before the final leg of our drive, including over an hour’s drive from the front gate of ‘The Station’ to the front door of the Homestead. My friend “Burger” shrieks with excitement upon seeing their cattle truck on the road which resulted in my first meeting with their crew. The stations trucky, Lucky, jumps down from the cab with a big smile and dashing green eyes. Burger quickly lets me know he’s taken! Damn . . . We pass through one of the other houses on the land and I get to give the manager, Leprechaun, a huge hug after saving my best mate’s life a few years back, a warm and thankful moment. Brrrrrrian, the station mechanic takes advantage and gets a hug too! On we go to the last leg, driving a cheeky speed on the airstrip before the last gate to the homestead.
The last gate (of many)!
Upon driving up to the veranda, tears welled as my friend’s kids, who will be known as Prince Intellegence and Princess Feral, holding hand made welcome signs in hand, jumped with joy for seeing their Mum after a week away and greeting their new friend, who will be crowned ‘Calamity’ by the surrounding crew in days to come. A carpet of desert surrounding us as far as the eye could see, these kids made me feel so much less afraid of the unknown and also gave me the courage to suck up my fears and embrace this foreign, intimidating place.
After a quick orientation and dip in the pool, we jumped in the buggy for a drive around The Homestead’s red sandy boundary road. My mind starts racing with ideas of the film I will shoot here one day. The buggy itself looks like it belongs in the Priscilla sequel or perhaps The Muppet movie. With this element of humour and sass, the tone is set for this lifestyle learning curve that was about to throw me for six.