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Not Your Average Suburban Block

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Adrian Cloonan

Ninety kms to nearest neighbour; a hundred to nearest town – this was not the time to run out of bread and milk!   Tinned and dried food brought north from Geraldton, plus the homestead bread-maker and the owners’ small but bountiful vegetable garden (silver beet, tomatoes and basil) – our meals revolved around these items.  We left the property only twice in eight weeks – both times to go shopping – a round trip of over two hundred kms!

The day started with checking five bores via telemetry: this property might be isolated, but the use of internet and other sophisticated farming aids was common. Next came recording overnight temperatures and any rain, this data then transmitted to the Bureau of Meteorology in Perth; regular maintenance of water bore/pump and homestead swimming pool (well used by us), regular watering of homestead lawns and the small vegetable garden (sometimes invaded by kangaroos), keeping an eye on the solar panels and the roof-top air conditioners – these were the daily duties. 

But with plenty of spare time, and energy, we volunteered for other duties.  Items were ordered and we painted the battery shed; installed down-pipes; cyclone-proofed the big shed; sealed the pool surrounds; and replaced all the lawn/garden drippers.

We also had to monitor the UHF radio constantly, as a bitumen road went through the property. One day an Adelaide couple rolled their car and caravan, the temperature was +42C. We called out the police and ambulance and helped transport them, as well as their four fellow travelers in two other car/caravans, to the homestead. They all stayed for three nights in air-conditioned donga accommodation while they sorted out their insurance and travel plans. 

That first night, as we drank the six bottles of wine that had survived the rollover, Peter from Adelaide said, “I knew I was in trouble when I saw the caravan beside the passenger front window!”

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