Obviously I should have been well past Perth by now. According to ‘The Plan’.
But I am not and I will tell you why;
After 10 glorious days in domesticated bliss of baking apple pies and shooting cartons I figured it be time to leave Byro station. I had an invitation to come stay at the next station down and an interview for the local paper ‘Bush Voices’.
Sandy was the pilot on the goat muster; he lives at Mount Naryer station and let me stay for a day. He has made it to the cover of the National Geographic in ’88, I’m well impressed.
I’ve been noticing small changes in landscape lately it’s warming up, getting greener. Here and there I still see a glimpse of the famous wildflowers of Western Australia but I’ve missed the main season. With the temperature going up flies are coming out too.
They’re the most annoying little creatures who prefer spending their time crawling into your ears, nose, mouth and behind sunglasses. I’ve finally discovered the use of those fly-nets. Even though they look ridiculous.
Cycling down the road I called in at Billabalong station.
It seemed to me a brilliant spot to grow up, and surely the seven children of the owners must think so too.
I didn’t need to think too long when I was asked to help out a couple of days…
An extra hand was needed to load cattle onto the truck. They weren’t too willing though. One cow in particular did not want to listen and came charging straight at me. I got a bit of a fright and nearly ended up in the water tank…
So we shot the cow. I’m starting to become an expert in taking animals apart.
You might have heard about ‘the school of the air’ before.
In remote areas in Australia children can’t go to school. The distances are just too great. Here, at Billabalong, I got the chance to see how it works up close, I got invited to join the class and have the children, who live hundreds km apart, ask me questions.
In the afternoon we went down to the Murchison River to drift around in tubes while watching the emu’s quench their thirst.
The last night before I struck civilisation I found a lovely bush camp near a dry riverbed, as usual in Australia I only put up the inside of my tent. But around midnight I woke up from this most unusual sound… rain! So quickly I crawled out to fix the outside while huge drops splattered around me. Not just that, it was accompanied with the scariest thunderstorm. Lying in my tent I hoped the lightning wouldn’t strike… I just survived the outback, it be silly to die there.
Lucky the lightning didn’t strike and in the morning I was amazed by the extreme and sudden change. Not more than 10km down the road everything was completely different. No more scrub and bush and kangaroos but lots of rabbits and fields of golden grain weaving in the wind. I’ve hit the wheat belt.
I also hit something else, didn’t figure out what, but after thousands of km on dirt roads I got back onto the Bitumen and had a flat tyre.
As I sat down at a petrol station in Mullewa fixing the leak a car stopped to have a chat. On my way out of town the same car pulled up. Michael and Jai asked if I would mind helping them out for the day. They were shifting tarps around and needed an extra hand.
I ended up working with them for 4 days, earning a little extra cash and learning how to fix tarps, enormous pieces of plastic that cover the grain in bulkheads so it doesn’t get wet. The Tarps must not have any holes in it. So with the 6 of us we’d drag the tarp over a huge light box where you can see the holes and fix them. A bit like fixing bike-tyres… except completely different.
As I got ready to leave Mullewa I noticed my tyre gone flat again. Apparently the glue doesn’t work to well when it’s hot.
I headed to the pub to make a phone call and while I was there figured I might as well have a beer.
That’s when I met Bob & Rob. Two contract harvesters enjoying their time off before the work starts. They invited me down to the farm where they’re gonna be working and I thought; Why not?
4 days later the harvest still hadn’t started and I still hadn’t left…
Since it happened to be Cate’s birthday we danced, drank, sang and played cards. I baked another apple-pie.
While there she showed me the machines they’ll be using ones the work started.
They are Ginormous! Huge tractors, bigger than I’ve ever seen and trailers that can hold 30ton of wheat.
How cool it would be to drive that!
So I asked around and now I’ve got my own chaser bin. Well… I drive one around for the Critch-family just out of Mullewa.
It’s a great big beautiful machine. I spent between 12 to 15 hours a day in my air-conditioned little heaven listening to music, reading books and of course following the harvesters around to offload them before they overflow. When my 30-ton trailer gets full I chuck it in the trucks who take it to the biggest grain collection point in the world in Geraldton.
Only 2 days in the boss, Tony, figured I should have a driver’s licence.
In Australia there’s 6 steps to obtain a full licence.
The 1st one is to do a theory-test. I could skip that one since I’ve had my motorbike licence already.
The 2nd is getting a learners permit which allows you to drive a car with a qualified person.
The 3rd is to actually practise and learn how to drive. I skipped that bit too.
The 4th is a test.
Two days after getting the learners permit I did the test. The assessor was real nice and told me I did almost everything right… Just one minor detail. I couldn’t drive…
She didn’t say it like that, but she didn’t need too…
So I failed but a new test was set for Friday the 13th.
And miraculously, after less than 5 hours practise on real roads and backing up into a tree during the test. I got my driver’s licence!
Now usually after the test you get P-plates. It means you still have to drive under supervision and after another test you ride around with P-plates for two years before getting a full licence. I skipped that bit as well…
So you better stay well clear of West Australian roads for a while…
I’ll be back with more stories about my tractor and the farm since I’ll be staying here untill x-mas.
Next time you here from me I’ll be 30. Ugh.