Save it for a rainy day

Host: Manners Creek Station
Written by Jodie Grant – Manager, Manners Creek Station.

One thing that has taken me a long time to get past is a fear of driving on dirt roads.

I used to hate and I mean really hate driving on dirt roads to the point of pulling up half way sitting on the side of the road in tears because I couldn’t get the rest of the way home. I had some very, very odd looks from people, normally tourists pulling up to see if I need help and say ‘home . . . but your heading away from town’ ‘Yeah I live 100km that way on a station’ to which the response was ‘You live on a station and can’t drive on a dirt road!?’.

Now I guess that is a fair enough reaction . . . it is fairly odd. However this was in the first 12 months of moving from Melbourne CBD to a station and I must say I have improved enormously when there is no paved road for hundreds of kilometres you learn pretty quickly how to drive on dirt. So me and dirt get along ok but mud, me, and wet dirt roads just will never get along at all and I don’t think this is something Dusty has fully registered yet.

Rain is something you all wait for and when it comes well you know the cattle have water, the grass is or will be very soon be getting greener, and things start to look after themselves a little. If trough isn’t filling there’s dams, river, creek beds, and puddles for the cattle to drink from, you don’t need to run lick out, it leaves a great opportunity to get the never ending list of ‘rainy day’ jobs done. Repairing vehicles, generators, services, general homestead area maintenance, any number of things could be done.

Well Dusty yes he gets those jobs done, but no that’s not enough Dusty gets itchy feet he wants to see the station ‘see where it’s wet’ he says and before long against my advice he has to go for the drive ‘just up the driveway’ he says.  After a quick warning that if it’s wet and you get stuck ‘I will not come and get you’ what does Dusty do jump in the car with a ‘I’ll see you shortly’.

Well true to form Dusty and our station hand at the time jumped in our station hand’s car just to go and have a look.  With a worried look on my face I turned to Em and said ‘next phone call will be Dusty from the sat phone’ it was just a matter of time. I continue along with my daily jobs trying to get everything finished. It was still raining at the time and next thing the phone call ‘Come quick and bring chain’ I start to speak and he says again, ‘Come now bring chain I’m sinking’ beep beep beep down the phone line. He’s hung up great that’s all he tells me.

I race outside grab as much chain as I can find without spending too much time hunting around the workshop jump in the car and look at the road and it’s just clicked bugger it’s wet I can’t/won’t get to him by this time Em’s ran out ‘He called again he needs you now’.

Well now is the time I take a deep breath a go for gold so to speak. Right speed definitely ain’t my thing on wet roads I’m going ok I am on the road and with either boggy spot or floodway I take a deep breath and get through to the other side. All is well until Em’s calls me up on the radio ‘Dad said come quick the car is under water and sinking’ right I accelerate a little to get there with some urgency . . . note to self this was perhaps not a good idea . . . hit a soft spot and slide off into the table drain and I just feel the car sink . . . bugger! I jump out of the car and look at it sunk down past the side steps, I have no hope of getting out. With one ute sinking and the recovery vehicle bogged what hope did we have.  Out of radio contact now with either Em and not able to get Dusty on the radio I have no way of telling anyone that I’m stuck and not coming. Desperately trying every way to get this car out trying to get rocks, leaves, spinifex anything down beneath the tyres to help me get out – all I achieved was being covered in mud. Eventually I get Em on the radio who says someone is with Dusty and she will get some to come and get me when they can.

Apparently while I was bogged a chopper flew over and thought it was a bit odd seeing to blokes sitting on the roof of a car in a creek with only the roof poking out of the water. They landed the chopper and organised some vehicles to come out and pull the now very wet car out of the creek by this point Em had told Dusty I was stuck and they now had a second vehicle to recover however mine was much less dramatic.

Perhaps we are better staying at home completing those rainy day jobs after all!