Swimming to the pub!

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

Living where we do we don’t see rain much at all . . . in fact I think my two and a half year old daughter has seen rain (proper rain) perhaps three times in her life. She really doesn’t know what this thing is falling from the sky . . . she is rather afraid of the rain. However living on dirt roads with creeks and rivers if we do get a big rain it can make access in and out of the station pretty much impossible by road.

This year we were caught out thinking we had all we needed and honestly not expecting to be flooded in. We managed to get 120ml of rain in one week on the station and rain all around the region. Now this was great a saving grace for many stations around giving all the stations including us some much needed green pick that has made a big difference. We weren’t too worried once the road dried up if it (the rain) is just around the station we should be able to get into town before too long.

Well that was before we got a phone call that the Georgina River had gone up and was still rising, even after the rain the river kept rising for a couple of weeks. When we got to about a week Dusty was getting worried and was ringing the local pub (70km’s up the road towards town) to find out if he could get past the river which was up by 2.5 metres high and flowing strongly.

‘No way you can get through you will have to sit tight and wait it out’ – well easy to say ‘wait it out’ – try living with a smoker on his last dregs of tobacco and I was a bit over hearing every night how he better get some smokes soon. I was thinking of ways I could get some smokes but there was no way I sent messages to friends down the highway in the other direction to Alice Springs only to get a ‘no you can’t get through this way’ so I called stations heading towards Boulia but to no avail the river was up down their end too.

Once the water around the station dried up a little Dusty thought he would go for a short drive just to see how far he could get, well at least that’s where I thought he was going. I perhaps may have been a little suspicious if I realised he had packed a backpack and garbage bags however this I never noticed but clearly he had a plan in his head this boy was on a mission, a mission to get smokes.

While Dusty was out and about gone for some time I must say I got a phone call from our neighbours – “I’m about to fly in with the chopper and I hear you’re in need of smokes out there would you like me to pick some up for you?”.  Excited I was –  ‘Yes that would be great!’ I said, thinking how proud Dusty would be getting home to me holding him a carton of smokes.

While Dusty was still out I was pretty surprised how long he had been gone thinking ‘wow he must be getting around a whole mill run’ our neighbour arrived to drop off the smokes in passing conversation I mentioned that he should be back by now he mentioned there was a ute parked at the river when he flew over. I’m like ‘Nah couldn’t be him he knows he can’t get past the river’ anyhow as the chopper left, I waited for Dusty’s arrival eagerly to see his reaction when I handed him the smokes he had been craving for about the last three weeks. The river at this point was still 2.5 metres and flowing strongly not mention the two water crossings before the river and the other two after the river so that’s five deep flowing water crossings to get through before he could even get to the pub which was the nearest place to pick up smokes. There was no way he was going to get smokes any other way in the next two weeks or so.

Finally I hear the dogs barking – Dusty’s home I race outside with a grin on my face showing a sense of accomplishment, to see him with an equally as pleased with himself grin on his face and backpack in hand. ‘You were gone a while’ I said ‘How far did you get?’ he hands the backpack to me. ‘What’s that I ask?’ to which Dusty’s response was ‘Take a look . . . I got smokes’. My face just drops ‘You what?’  ‘I just brought you a carton of smokes it was brought out in next door’s chopper’. I open the backpack to find smokes, beer, coke, chocolate, lollies, and spare powdered milk for the girls just in case we needed it.

Clearly he put thought into this and brought something for everyone: smokes and beer for him, coke and chocolate for me (my weak spot), and lollies for the girls. ‘But how on earth did you get to the pub?’ to which his response was as if the answer was obvious ‘I swam!’ . . . ‘Across all five crossings?’ I asked ‘Yep, then walked to the pub put every thing in garbage bags tied them up, put them in the backpack, and swam back with the back pack on my back with all the stuff’ with a cheeky smile.

Next time I see him leave the house with a back pack and garbage bags must note that he is up to something.