Despite growing up in the middle of nowhere, I’ve only discovered since being back at home that it is actually quite a lonely existence. Not only is it lonely, but I don’t give country people enough credit for being able to cope without simple things such as drinking water and limited phone reception. This week I’m going to bring you into a world that’s totally different to the one you might know in the city. Just a word of warning, images contained in this slideshow might be confronting for some people.
I think I’ve become to used to just getting stuff from the shops when I need it. If I’m out of milk for breakfast, I just run down to the corner store. If I decide I want something for dinner an hour before I go home from work, I can collect the things I need from the supermarket on my way home. But, when you’re over an hour’s drive from the nearest reasonably priced Coles or Woolies, it’s not a matter of just “driving down the road”.
I’ve come to notice that while being at home, particularly over the Christmas period, I can’t just have a milkshake and use as much milk as I want because once we run out, there’s no more until the next trip to town – whenever that may be!
Unfortunately, like many other places in Australia, we’re heading into another drought. You know things are getting dry when sheep are getting stuck in dams and the dirt roads become slippery from being too dry – which is possible. And you definitely know it’s dry when you have to start boiling water to drink it. On my first night back at home, I was desperately thirsty after a long day of driving into the sun, only to find that my usually clear, pristine rain water from the tap was cloudy and contained floaties. The glorious rain water that I crave back in Brisbane was no longer glorious. The rain water tanks haven’t seen rain in so long and the only water left is sitting on the bottom of the tank with all the frogs, tadpoles, leaves, sticks and dirt.
Not only do you have to boil water to drink, but I’m not allowed to shower any longer than three minutes and DEFINITELY not allowed to shower twice a day! That’s completely unheard of during these dry times!
I had to get my parents to pick me up from in town because my little Honda Jazz can’t handle the wrath of the dirt roads. And leaving my car in town means I can’t leave unless someone else is leaving in a 4WD. Talk about isolation. Need I say more?
Repairs and General Maintenance
The reason I’m only writing another blog today is because we actually didn’t have internet until this afternoon. Having any sort of internet out here is considered a luxury because internet service providers just don’t want to come so far out of town to set up internet. I also didn’t have any phone service until this afternoon. But now it’s all fixed so I guess I can’t complain. But since 2006, mum has been trying to get someone to come out and set up a proper internet connection.
The power also quite frequently blacks out and I’ve spent countless nights reading under candlelight and dabbing a wet facecloth on my forehead to fight off the heat. And despite the power blacking out frequently, the power bills out here are nearly seven times the price of my power bill in the city.
But, after going through all of this, I have to admit that there really is no place like home and the outback is definitely an acquired taste. While there are some downsides and heartbreaks living out here, there must be a reason my parents and many other people living in the district have stayed here so long. Living in the country develops your appreciation for the finer things in life that you take for granted in the city. Facing hardships, adversity, having tolerance, dry seasons, wet seasons, being in isolation, and drought develops a type of character like no other.
What you don’t see in the city is the night sky illuminated by billions of starts, the blazing red sunsets and sunrises, the silent trickle of the rivers and rustle the of grass, and even though it might be unsettling for some, you learn to love the stillness that breathes through the trees and creaks through the house. It might not be the best place for me to live, but it sure is fantastic to visit.
Thanks for reading another week. Until next time, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!