DAY 8 – DAILY PROMPT:
Create an adventure. If you live in or around a city, write about your life if you were to move to the remote country. If you live in a rural area, write about your life the first day moving to the big city. The world is a big place, both extremes deserve illumination.
((Used creative license here. Took this and wrote about my past and let it flow from that.. When I went from Victoria to Western Australia at age 14 and the huge change that was to my young life and our family. ❤ ))
For a 14 year old girl oldest of 4 children. It was a move I felt forced to make. Away from friends, leaving youth group and school and my pet pony was sold.
Other side of Australia seemed like another world away. And it was. Fitzroy Crossing was in the far north west Kimberley and on the other side of the continent. The only thing I knew about it was from a small write up in a library book my mum and siblings leafed through to find. No google back than. It did not say much at all. Police station, supermarket, hospital, road house and famous outback pub! Of course the major attraction was the river! A beautiful gorge Geike Gorge was situated not far from the township and people come from all over the world to see it and cruise its banks. It became a favorite place to visit in our time there.
It was extremely isolated. It would be an over two hour travel either way to the next town and there was nothing in between.. No shops, houses or anything from the road except I did love the beautiful boab trees that were scattered along the way. Amazing trees!! One boab tree about half way to Derby was so big and hollow inside it was once used as a prison holding cell!
One road in and one road out.
Ballarat could not be more opposite. Colder, green, winter was wet and we have a bad reputation about changeable weather, populated and even though considered a rural city. It has all the amenities of a much bigger city. The floor was cold when you walked on it. You could go clothes shopping!! You had access to health care.
Fiztroy Crossing is a majority aboriginal population. I do not think I had ever met an aboriginal person before at least I did not know anyone personally! It was a complete culture shock. It was hot, red dirt, no TV, lol that was in 1984!! I did not find that out till after we arrived. I would not have agreed to that AT ALL!! If you wanted to watch something entertaining it had to be on video cassette. I remember at one point a family friend every so often passed on a box full of mostly American sitcom recorded on video. I think we watched them and nearly wore out the videos every time it was our turn to view them. It was so different not having TV. You lost contact with the outside world. Radio stations became vitally important. The weekly newspaper was flown in or trucked in and were sold out pretty quickly.
No fresh milk. It all came in frozen or powdered. There was a local bakery that made fresh bread but sometimes the local baker got drunk or his workers did not turn up so there was no bread those days. You could buy bread frozen and kept in freezers.
The houses were ugly but had lovely big verandas to help keep them cooler.. Shutter windows, floor to ceiling to capture any breeze that might pass through. Some of the houses were on stilts as the mighty Fiztroy River which in the dry season could be just pools here and there would become a raging torrent flooding its bank in wet season and the whole town was surrounded by water.. Dusty. Everything seemed coated in dust.
For a teenager it was eye opening. I had to do my school by distance education. There was not a high school at that time. My younger brother and sister went to the local school. At least they had air-conditioning! Our house did not! Stifling temps during day and even at night it was hot at least for us!! Slept with just a sheet over you. Always fans to circulate the air.
Unfortunately only 4 days into our new life we had a family tragedy. My youngest sister at a welcoming picnic after church drowned in the river.. It has tied our family to that place forever. We no longer live there we are now back in Ballarat again. My sister was nearly five years old. My parents bravely stayed on for the next couple of years. It was very hard for them. They had committed themselves to serving as missionaries up there so they kept their commitment to the local people and to God.
How did I feel as a young person? It was bewildering. Life was slower up there. They had siesta time when the whole place seemed to shut down and people rested from the worst heat of the day.
The Aboriginal people were beautiful souls but seemed reserved to me. Very respectful of our family coming through such a tragic circumstance. The local people gathered around us. We hardly knew them but they supported us through such a horrible time. I remember huge thunderstorms that frightened the heck out of us as kids. My sister and I would drag our beds into the middle of the room so we were closer. It really sounded as if the storm was right over our heads and God was up there throwing his best at us. Heavy rains. Insects. Kind black hands that we gently shook every Sunday. Songs sang in local language over and over because thats the songs they loved! Sitting on seats that pinched your legs. Dogs wandered into the church service which was in an old stone and tin building without walls. Overhead fans whirring about.. I think for awhile we were just in shock. Shock at the loss.. Shock at the different culture.. Shock at our lives changing so dramatically.
I can see the deep dark hole where my sister was laid to rest and the mound of red dirt to cover her over again once the preacher said his thing. The crowd of dark faces who turned up that day was incredible because they didn’t know us. There was a deep respect for our loss you feel that even as a young person.. My little brother clinging to my dad. He was so insecure and cried out loudly whenever he could not find my parents. All the memories come rushing back. The heat. The flies. The faces that we did not know but kindly helped us through all the transition.
City to country. Different as day and night. It taught us to love and respect native Australians, see first hand how they have survived the stolen generation, injustice and past government stuff ups and how big and unique and beautiful our country is. It taught us community. It taught us the blessings that are modern amenities. Things like not having to travel to get to a hair dresser, see a dentist, go to a big chain supermarket and department stores, see a specialist, have your baby, flying doctors for emergencies. So much we take for granted.
That even in tragedy and hardship Australia is an amazing vast continent. In city and country we are indeed a lucky country and Australians are as diverse and unique as our land.. We pull together when hard times come.
(( Jones family 1984 November. In Perth. On the way to Fitzroy Crossing.. My little sister Belinda still alive. Brings back many memories seeing this.. ))