Story telling from Australia
Clyde and I were invited onto Australia All Over on Sunday morning, and it was Mother’s Day here in Australia. ‘Macca’, as much-loved radio presenter Ian McNamara is known, is a broadcasting legend (and a great singer and guitar player by the way) and believe it or not I was more nervous than when I appeared live on Breakfast TV.
So here’s what I wish I had said:
All mums are special but mums who live and work on the land are extraordinary.
When Michelle Reay’s son needs braces she has to drive one thousand, one hundred kilometres to the nearest orthodontist. Michelle and Jon have four sons and they live on Durham Downs cattle station in South East Queensland.
Lyn French on Gilberton Station loved her three kids so much she tried to teach them to read and write when she couldn’t read or write herself. Living seven hours inland from Townsville, home schooling was her only option.
Cath Marriott raised four young children as a single mother after she lost her husband to cancer at the age of forty. With the children’s help she kept their sheep farm in Victoria going in spite of fire, flood, drought and debt. She never once thought of selling.
In order to watch her sons play sport, Adele Hughes and her husband Philip would set off from home on a Friday night, drive several hours, sleep in swags on the side of the road, get up early to finish the drive, watch the match, take the boys out for dinner then drive home again.
Merry and Ian Jackson struggled so much in the early days on Tirlta Station near Mutwintji National Park they had to borrow money to buy milk when their first child was born. All three kids went mustering on motorbike with them, the youngest tucked into the front of a greatcoat.
Virginia Chilcott married dairy farmer Steve and kept her own sheep farm going by commuting every day to Epping Forest, even with two young children. Her children have spent more time in a paddock than most children spend in a pram.
Jo Fulwood had three children under the age of two (including twins) and no childcare facilities when she moved to Cunderdin in the central wheat belt area of WA. She fronted a campaign to build a new childcare centre took on the federal government and won. Now every woman in Cunderdin can access childcare.
A perfect storm of drought and debt forced Roma Britnell’s father to shoot his entire flock of sheep in the 1970s and the heartbroken farmer died six weeks later. That childhood memory made Roma the passionate farmer she is today. When banks refused to lend Roma and husband Glenn money to start their own farm they refused to accept defeat and built their own dairy by hand, raising a family of four children while they grew the business.
People who live and work on the land in rural, regional and remote areas – Australian Farming Families – deserve our utmost respect, because without them out there doing what they do we wouldn’t have food on our tables.
So thank you Macca for inviting me onto the show, and my sincere best wishes to anyone and everyone who lives and works on the land.