Hopefully by now you’ve all had a chance to pick up a copy of the latest edition of R.M. Williams Outback magazine and seen a couple of stories penned by yours truly on Bourke, at one dry extreme, and Cairns, at the other very wet extreme. But what happens behind the scenes on these stories? What happened out there that I haven’t shared with Outback readers? What led to photos like this ?
And why was I chased down and tormented by blood-suckers? Want the stories behind the stories? Read on.
1. Daylight Saving Sucks
One night on an outback station in NSW my personal assistant and I had knocked off for the day and were soaking weary limbs under a canvas of a million stars in an outdoor spa filled with hot artesian water (sorry no photos of that caper). A few hours later our alarm went off. See, we were due at a QLD station the next morning and, after a couple of red wines, no-one could quite work out the travel times required. And we forgot to factor in the dreaded daylight saving, which sees an hour difference between the two states.
Which is why we were at Wombah Station’s mailbox at the ungodly hour of 3am. We found some tomatoes and cheese in the engel and made some sandwiches and then it was 3.15am.
Not wanting to turn up at the Wombah homestead in the middle of the night we pondered what to do next.
And this is what we came up with:
If you look closely you can even see the Southern Cross.
2. For the Love of a Thoroughbred
I’m a sucker for a thoroughbred, which is why we were finally at the Wombah homestead by dawn. Last year I had read about this amazing little horse from Hungerford who took all before him to race in Sydney during the Autumn carnival, and now I was meeting Stoneyrise in the flesh (and of course his wonderful owners – James and Cheryl Hatch).
The sun peeped over a dry lakebed and James and Stoneyrise came down to play:
And Stoneyrise knows he is a bit of a star so he put on a performance just for us:
But there is a sad postscript to this story. Not long after the personal assistant and I were there Stoneyrise had an accident, dislocating and fracturing his jaw. Vets advised the Hatch’s to put him down. But if you could have seen how much James and Cheryl love this horse you would know this was never going to happen.
With care and dedication they are nursing him back to health. Whether he will race again is not known, but if you love a thoroughbred put the name Stoneyrise in your black book – just in case miracles happen. And that’s a story I’d definitely want to write.
3. When You’re Laughing Too Hard to Take Photos
For some reason R.M. Williams did not pick up this photo:
My good friend Libby and I were paddling surf skis on Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tableland and I had a waterproof camera in my shirt pocket. It was earlyish morning (not 3am early), a gentle rain was falling and we couldn’t work out where the lightning was coming from, but every now and again we would see a flash. Turns out it was the camera going off in my pocket.
By the time we realised what was going on the photo shoot was a dead loss. We were laughing far too much for anything productive to come of the morning, which is why images like this also did not get picked up by the magazine:
Libby had other reasons to laugh. See, I have a phobia of leeches. The little bastards might not be able to see but they can smell. It is insidious the way they sniff the air and make a beeline for my blood. Then they latch on AND YOU CAN’T GET THEM OFF.
Libby thought I was joking. Until I got one leech. And another. I wasn’t happy. Libby was unsympathetic: “They were 3 of the smallest black specs I've ever seen!! Hardly recognisable as a living organism- hardly big enough for me to even pick off you they were so small!!!! You are a BIG Wus!!”
Do not believe her.
I had waterfalls to photograph and the leeches followed me. They even followed me INTO a motel room in Innisfail. It’s a wonder I lasted the night.
I don’t have any photos of bloodsuckers so I’ll end with this pretty waterfall:
But beware: now you know the stories behind the stories.