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Not Your Average Suburban Block

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Adrian Cloonan

We were visiting our friends Pam and Rex in Geraldton, on the West Australian coast, when their phone rang. 

“Would you be interested in caretaking a homestead on a cattle station in the Pilbara for 6 months?” asked a voice.

“Sorry, we’d love to help out, but we’re about to leave for an overseas trip”, answered Pam.

As she hung up, Rex asked “Who was that?” 

Pam replied, “The Outback Links contact at Paraburdoo”. 

“Who are they?” I asked in turn.

Pam and Rex explained that the Uniting Church has established a national database of outback properties needing help from volunteers. Anyone can browse the database and offer appropriate skills.

We pricked up our ears. After all we had been outback volunteer teachers on isolated properties; done “goat sitting” (300 pure bred goats on 900 acres during ‘kidding’ season); and house-sat on smaller acreages.  This sounded like an adventure not to be missed - and we were not due home in suburban Melbourne for at least another 2 months.  So, after a discussion with our friends, we rang back the contact to offer ourselves for the first 2 months; our friends would take over from us for a further 4.  The phone was passed backwards a few times in the next few minutes. 

“Can you vouch for this couple” asked the Pilbara voice.  “Yes”, Pam answered, “we have known them for many years since they lived in Geraldton”.   A few phone calls later, all was agreed.

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