Loving the Isolated Life

Host: Farrcombe Contracting
Written by Raine Pugh

I often hear people ask ‘how do you live in such isolation?’ in regards to the location of our outback homes. Stations are located hundreds of Kilometres from towns, roadhouses or neighbours, with roads which are often closed due to poor weather conditions – the same conditions which often also cause the phonelines to disconnect for weeks at a time. Yes, at times this makes life all the more challenging but for most of us, this is what attracts us to these ruggedly beautiful locations.

Growing up I lived on a property only 230kms from our closest major town of Katherine. To some this is a vast distance but to us we almost felt like townies. We could easily drive to town and back for supplies in the same day – a luxury that most cattle stations do not have. What did often cut us off from these conveniences was the great Victoria River. As we lived on the other side of this mighty waterway we were cut off for up to 5 months straight during our monsoonal wet season. For us to get supplies then became somewhat an adventurous task. In order to get to town for Christmas shopping, groceries and supplies, attend parties and functions or make trips for medical reasons, we all needed to pile into our rusty, filthy Toyota and bounce down the driveway until we reached the river. Then we would launch our small trusty dingy … slip and slop through the mud (if the river had dropped in height the mud could be thigh deep) and crawl into the dingy. Upon crossing the swollen river, which when in full flood can flow at 6 meters per second; we would reach the other side. Slip and slop up the muddy river bank to where our ‘town cars’ were parked, then needed to find a fresh looking puddle to bathe in and then change into our town clothes, which were transported across in plastic shopping bags. The trip to town could then begin if not stopped by smaller flooding creeks across the highway or bogholes on the driveway. The next challenge was then to get to and from town before nightfall, because crossing a flooding river in the dark is not as exciting as it seems.  This epic town trip was even more interesting during Christmas when friends, food, booze and presents were shipped across the river in the boat, only for the wrapping paper to get wet and sodden exposing the contents within before Santa had even arrived!

 Crossing the river by boat … only way to check the mailbox or go to town.

 What a view…..who wouldn’t want to live here.

I know that other properties and stations have very similar problems during the wet season. Often whole sections of road are washed away, creeks or rivers are up or springs and bogholes develop in the road which claim many a passing vehicle or two. Often during our wet season, the phone lines are also quite hit and miss. At times they went out of service for 3 consecutive weeks. A real problem was when the internet went down as well!

Distance, road conditions, weather conditions, communications and location play major factors in our isolated lifestyles. This however is what makes our homes all the more appealing, it adds to the daily challenge and lets face it, we all live in these locations and follow these lifestyles because we enjoy to be challenged.

Plenty of locations for sun soaked weekends.

On our annual holidays east (normally to sunny QLD), we often drive through some very pretty scenery and beautiful locations. Our topic of conversation always turns to if we would like to move east – somewhere smaller, cooler, closer to civilisation, it always sounds like a great idea until we turn back onto our isolated driveway somewhere in the middle of the NT and remember why we love it here so much. The rugged beauty of the escarpment ranges in the west, the open plains of the Barkly, the lush tropical top end and the red centre. The top end for us despite being a vast place will be home for us for many more years. We love the ruggedness, the isolation, the distance, the size, the people and most of all the challenge.