The Life of a Juggling Clown in the Channel Country!

Host: Isolated Children’s Parent’s Assocation
Written by Annabel Tully, Bunginderry Station.

Save the date for the 2017 Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association Federal Conference to be held in Alice Springs, August 2-3. Hosted by the Alice Springs Branch, this promises to be a great conference in true Territory style. Find all information at this link: 

Some say, “I don’t know how you do you it” while others just say “You’re mad”! I liken my life to that of a juggling clown in a circus, but the reality is there is no circus, there is no juggling act, and most of the time there’s no room for clowns in our line of business. On Bunginderry Station, we operate a 75,000-hectare sheep and cattle business with just Mum, Dad, and five kids. The audience is always different with kids, husband, cattle, sheep, family, volunteers, and staff (and that is certainly not my order of preference!) entering and leaving through a revolving door of the circus tent. As mother, wife, book keeper, teacher, student, cook, gardener, secretary, teenager manager from afar, and chief morale booster – my life is like so many other woman who live in the Channel Country.

Bunginderry sheep yards full and ready for shearing.

We love where we live, we are pulled in every direction, we get the job done, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There is no sunrise like another. There is no day like any other. Yet all days end the same way – blissfully happy to be horizontal and chuffed with all things achieved that day!

View across the Bunginderry Station from the Grey Range.

Up until 2017, we have had a governess and jackeroo to assist with the teaching of children through School of the Air and on-farm mechanical, stock, and maintenance work. This year, apart from the odd contractor, our main musters are centred around the school holidays so the three “biggens” provide our workforce when home from boarding school.

Bunginderry staff of 2017.

I teach the two “littlies” as we move our schoolroom from the school house, to the paddock or yards, to Nanny’s house and if we’re lucky, on the road to see the “biggens” in the city.

Have school, will travel.

I’m up there with the loudest advocates for rural and remote education, and most of all, Distance Education or School of the Air (depending on which school you are enrolled). Distance Education is different from home schooling, in that it is to cover distance. I am a mother and I do not get paid to be in the schoolroom to supervise my children’s education. If that was on offer for city mothers, there would be a rally on every corner. However, nowhere else do you get to form such close bonds with your children, be flexible with school-work-life balance, and offer one-on-one education. Even stronger than my voice (and that’s something if you’ve heard me yelling at the dogs), is that of the ICPA (Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association) who are a strong force to be reckoned with across Australia as they make the voices of our children to be heard in the ears of the leaders who can effect change. The list of what ICPA has achieved and continues to strive for is endless, but I could not, and would not, be able to set up my schoolroom, access adequate internet, travel to educational events, be supported by allied health services, access a choice in which education suits my child, if it wasn’t for ICPA. In short, ICPA is synonymous with education in the rural and remote Australia. Education for all will always be the number one priority in our circus, as we believe it is key for the future of rural and remote Australia.

So, for the love of the land, the family, education, and those ever changing skies; I welcome the craziness, I juggle what is thrown my way, and my reply to “I don’t know how you do it” is simply, “is there any other way?”