The first two women featured in the series of Outback Women Profiles are Kelly Theobald and Jacinta ‘Sis’ Fatnowna. These women moved to the outback from Melbourne and Mackay respectively and haven’t looked back. They both speak highly of their outback lifestyle and urge others to get out and experience it for themselves.
Birdsville Sunset 2012- Kate McDonald
Kelly Theobald is a vibrant individual and one of the smiling faces that greet you when you enter the Birdsville Information Centre. A resident in Birdsville, when she’s not working at the centre she is a journalist, photographer, a published author, a volunteer for local council, QRRRWN (Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network) and Channel Country Ladies Day and an avid outback traveller. Her boyfriend owns a fabrication business in town and she can be found there as well helping out when she can. Kelly has lived in Birdsville for three years and fell in love with the place as soon as she arrived from Melbourne.
She loves living in the outback for SO many reasons…... Kelly loves the landscape and wildlife, the big skies, the Simpson Desert sand dunes, the friendly community, the relaxed lifestyle, the interesting people who pass through Birdsville on holiday or who work here for a while and loves the weather. She loves that summer lasts for ages and that winter is really short. Every day is different and Kelly has so many fond memories from my time in Birdsville. Some memories are of long afternoons spent with the community at Pelican Point, having a BBQ and watching the sun set over the billabong; some are going with her boyfriend to rescue or fix a stranded vehicle in the Simpson desert; some are sitting around a campfire at the Birdsville Bakery with a bunch of friends and enjoying a lovely meal; and another memory is driving her 1963 Volkswagen Beetle across the Simpson Desert!
Kelly and her boyfriend restored a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, ‘Onslo’, and drove it across the Simpson Desert, starting in Birdsville and ending up in Mt Dare, 3 days later. Onslo is now a published children’s book and is very popular with many copies enjoyed by local children and some copies have been sent overseas. Kelly has also appeared on the front cover of the Australian Weekend paper with the real Onslo and has been published in the OUTBACK magazine.
In her life as a journalist and writer, Kelly’s role models tend to be people who have excelled in these fields. She count fellow children’s author Mem Fox as a strong role model, even though she’s not outback based. She also admires Mark Muller, the editor of OUTBACK Magazine, because he ensures that the best of the outback is shared with a wide audience and Annabelle Brayley, who is a nurse and author and who has been so very lovely when Kelly emailed her out of the blue for advice on publishing! Georgie Somerset, the President of the QRRRWN is another role model because Kelly admires her enthusiasm and dedication to outback women.
Kelly would love to invite someone well known and influential to a dinner party in Birdsville so that they can experience all the pros and cons of outback life. Hopefully, they will see what we go through and help us to crusade to fix the cons and promote the pros so that more people are encouraged to venture to this wonderful part of the world.
Kelly, Kate and Onslo- Kate McDonald
Birdsville Pub 2013- Kate McDonald
Governess, Jacinta Fatnowna, better known as Sis, lives on Glenglye Station, 140kms out of Birdsville. Her day to day role is teaching 2 girls in grades 3 and 6, through Mt Isa School of Distance Education. When not in the school room, Sis helps out on the station anywhere she can; whether it is in the kitchen cooking for the crew, with the stock camp or outside trying to keep her garden and plants alive. Sis is a hard worker and is an asset to have around.
Sis has resided in the outback for almost 5 years. During her time in the outback she has worked as a Teacher Aide at Birdsville State School, washing dishes in the kitchen of the Birdsville Pub and as a governess on another Channel Country cattle station. When asked what she loved living in the outback her response was ‘Where to start?’ Sis loves the people, the laid back lifestyle, the sunsets, the pubs, the big beautiful night sky and of course my family. There are no traffic lights or line ups at the bar. Sis loves fishing, hanging with mates at any of the local watering holes (pubs) and one of her highlights has to be the Birdsville Races. Especially in 2010, when her mate from Mackay came and experienced a smidge of the outback lifestyle, even though that was the year that the Birdsville Races were flooded! Someone that Sis looks up to in her life in her Mumma, Tanya. Sis values family and their role in her life. She wishes that she could invite her Nan who is still alive and her Pop who has passed away over for dinner and share with them her outback experiences and lifestyle.
Sis fishing- Jacinta Fatnowna
I hope you have enjoyed this instalment in the series. Coming soon will be profiles on a mother and daughter from Windorah.