Friday, 31 January 2014

Outback Women Profiles featuring Gay and Megan

Gay and Megan are mother and daughter. but this is not the only commonality that they share. They both love living in the outback, they have both raised children in the outback, they have both contributed to the community in which they live near and they both work hard with their husbands on their properties.

I hope you enjoy their stories.

Windorah Solar Farm- Kate McDonald

Gay Tully lives with her husband Brian on Tenham Station which is 220 kilometres west of Quilpie, 68 kilometres east of Windorah and covers a total area of 250 sq miles or 160,000 acres. She works in a partnership with her husband and they run sheep and cattle. They have three adult children who were all raised and schooled for their primary years on Tenham Station. Gay cooks, cleans, loves her garden and looks after the homestead. She also musters on a motorbike, goes out fencing, drives the dozer pushing scrub, feeds stock Molofos during the drought and puts out lick blocks etc.

She loves looking after her 3 beautiful granddaughters who live 70kms away when she can to help out her daughter who is also on a station working with her husband and is very busy as well.
Gay Tully, granddaughter Alice and husband Brian- Megan Miller
In a volunteer role, there are not many committees in the local area that Gay hasn’t served on. She is involved with the Windorah Developmental board, Windorah arts and crafts, Windorah ambulance, Channel Country I C P A. which are all voluntary organisations

Gay has lived in at Tenham for over 32 years and just loves the lifestyle., She loves the animals, the countryside, and a full creek to look at, which sits just outside her homestead, when this dreadful drought breaks. Gay has fond memories of the night she received life membership for the Channel Country Isolated Children's Parents Association which she felt was such an honour to receive. But seeing her long list of voluntary roles, I imagine it was a well deserved recognition. She has wonderful memories of the hundreds of cards, flowers and support she received from the west when she had cancer and was given a 40 percent chance survival of 5 years. Their friendship was invaluable.. Gay would be happy to have Tony Abbott for dinner to show him the outback as we see it. Gay does not feel like she’s missing out. She has a great social life, and it is a great place to live.

Gay has recently started an initiative called the Green Thumb Express. Due to the drought and a drop in the creek, which is Tenham Stations water supply, Gay has unfortunately had to let her garden die off. This is a common case for many gardens in the South-West and further afield. Gay felt that so many people express their desire to help out the drought stricken areas so she has come up with the idea that people can either pot a plant or give cash donations. They are also trying to incorporate as many nurseries who are interested to be drop off areas for plants. So that when the drought is over, people who have registered can receive green, healthy, vibrant plants to fill up their gardens. This will hopefully improve morale and put a smile on a gardener’s face so they have a green paradise to come home to after a hard day’s work out in the paddocks.

A fantastic scheme developing momentum!

Follow this link to pledge your help:
The Miller Family- Megan Miller

Megan Miller lives with her husband Andrew and three young daughters on a property called Coniston in Western Qld near Windorah. Coniston is 28 328ha and they lease this land and from it run their own sheep and cattle business. They run about 1000 head of drought master X cattle and 900 merino sheep. Their three daughters, Bridie (8), Alice(4) and Grace (2), love living on the land and being outside playing with their animals or helping their parents with the farm work. Bridie is in year 4 and attends the Longreach School of Distance Education. Megan teaches Bridie at home through the school of the air. Bridie gets to talk to her teacher and classmates 4 days a week on the phone and computer.

Coniston is situated in an isolated part of Queensland. They are 2 and a half hours from the nearest child care centre and over 700 kilometres from the nearest Woolworths. Their mail comes twice a week on a truck. Each week Megan orders her groceries from a Food Works that is two and a half hours away and they come out on the mail truck once a week. 
As well as teaching and looking after her girls Megan likes to help out on the property as much she can. Often she’ll take the kids and they will all do the mustering, shearing, fencing and general cattle work. At the moment a lot of their time is taken up supplement feeding the stock due to the drought. They do not have any employees so they all have to help out.

Grace helping Andrew feed supplement- Megan Miller

 Bride and Alice getting ready to help Andrew- Megan Miller

Currently Megan and Andrew are taking part in the MLA Challenge. They are 1 of 6 producers from around Australia involved in a competition to improve their businesses. On a community level, Megan is president of the Windorah Development Board which is a local community group designed to promote and improve the nearest town of Windorah.

 Megan knows the area around Windorah well, having grown up on a sheep and cattle property about 70 kilometres away from Coniston. She met Andrew when he started working for the next door neighbours. Some say 'the boundary fence was down and Andrew slipped through'. Megan competed her primary schooling through Charleville School of Distance Education and then went away to boarding school in Brisbane for years 8-12. Her parents are still on their property.

Having almost her whole life living in the outback, Megan wouldn’t swap it for city living. She loves the wide open spaces most of all. As well as the beautiful countryside and the lifestyle of living and working on the land. She adores being able to have as many pet animals as her heart desires and they currently have over 100 pets from kelpie working dogs to chooks to poddy calves and a donkey. Megan loves watching the area bloom and change with the good seasons. She loves watching her children ride motorbikes, go swimming in creeks and having lots of room to play outside. Megan loves being able to work alongside her husband and make decisions together about improving their business and implementing those changes together.
Grace, Bridie and Alice with their poddy lambs- Megan Miller

Megan and her young family are very passionate about their life in the outback and have made this video about their lives and how much fun they have!

Follow this link to view it:
Megan’s has so many favourite memories of living in the outback. However, she had a fantastic day at the very first Channel Country Ladies day held at Durham Downs Station in 2012. It helped to raise money for breast cancer and was a great chance for outback ladies to be pampered and have a weekend away.

Family is very important in Megan’s life. Her role model would probably be her Dad. He has such an enormous amount of time and love to give to his family and he is always there to support both Andrew and Megan when they need it. He is a hard worker, patient and has good morals and values.
If Megan was to hold a dinner party for the local women in Windorah she would invite Oprah Winfrey to be the guest of honour. Megan thinks Oprah is inspirational and that she could learn a lot from having dinner with her. How amazing would it be to have such an influential person like Oprah on your side when it comes to the tough times that the Australian Agricultural Industry is currently experiencing? Coniston has been drought declared for over 7 months now, and this, coupled with record temperatures, the live export debacle and low cattle market prices have contributed to making it very difficult for graziers on the land to survive.
Thank you Gay and Megan for sharing your outback lives with us.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Outback Women Profiles featuring Kelly and Sis

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.


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Outback women profiles

During my time spent in the outback so far I met have some incredible women going about their everyday lives and enduring some hard times. I have never heard them complain about how hard it is, or that they wish they were somewhere else where it was just easier. These women teach children, run businesses, muster cattle, fence paddocks and are regular faces at community events and wouldn’t swap any of it for the world.

I interviewed some of these women in South Western Queensland about their lives, their contributions to the community and why they choose to live here-despite the hardships and constant daily battles some of them face.
Over the next week I will publishing their stories on this blog to hopefully give people an understanding about life out here and in particular what these women's lives entail.
So grab a cuppa and settle in to read some interesting tales of the outback.