Guest Blog by Annie Kiefer, State Honorary Secretary
Day dawned; I was ready and set to go on my Adventure “out west”. A place I had never truly and properly visited until now. Sure, I went to Broken Hill to our CWA Conference, but all I saw was the Entertainment Centre and our accommodation. No time for tripping around.
I boarded the Dubbo train, feasted on scones, jam and cream – ladies not nearly as good as the CWA ones at the RAS – and later that night arrived in Wilcannia (this time via bus). Torrential rain followed me all the way to Cobar. Drought, what drought I was forced to query?
My dear friend Annette, (aka beastie due to a typographical error) met me in downtown Wilcannia in the dead of night. Well, perhaps not the “dead” of night, but it was pretty dark. We journeyed through to White Cliffs and then to Polpah Station via a couple of flooded creek beds. Again I queried, “What drought? to be told “It’s a Green Drought”! That night I fell into bed – after all, I had been so excited that morning that I was up and about at around 4.30 am.
The next morning I awoke early and we travelled into White Cliffs. What a wonderful town is White Cliffs. There was to be that Friday, Saturday and Sunday, an Arts Festival. The town had been “wool bombed” and was bedecked in the most amazing knitted, crocheted and woven bits and pieces. Fences were covered in knitted flowers, crocheted rugs adorned the local hall where an old ute was parked out the front completely covered in knitting with a full sized knitted driver. The local general store had an amazing assortment of bollards out the front each topped with pom poms. I inspected the CWA Hall and marvelled at what wonderful accommodation it is. The local branch rents the Hall out for visitors to stay in (and it has air conditioning!!). I met Jim at the local coffee shop who shared all the finer details about finding opals and showed us a couple he had found. They were enormous. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t give them to us.
The next day we went out exploring on Polpah. I saw real live emus, real live kangaroos, real live rabbits, leopard trees, real live eaglets in their nest, skies full of budgerigars and real live huge numbers of sheep. I was fortunate enough to visit neighbouring Goodwood Station, and watch the crutching of their sheep. It was so fascinating. And the shearing personnel were so patient and kind and talked me through all the procedures and answered all my naïve queries!
Let me say here and now that I am a “dyed in the wool”, pardon the pun, city slicker from waaaay back, so everything was a real first for me.
I found such a wondrous beauty in all things I saw. From the red dirt to the beautiful skies, to the marvellous trees and the wonderful wildflowers; each was a joy to behold. (Annie picking up pressing tips from CWA member Louise Turner)
We visited Peery Lake where I was fortunate enough to see some aboriginal rock paintings. We walked out to one of the islands in the Lake (now nearly dry) and saw where the springs come from. On this trek we were accompanied by visitors to the area who were being shown around by the Park Ranger, there were a couple from Melbourne, a couple from Sydney, a couple from Yass. We then journeyed to Goodwood Station where we were entertained by a guest who “just happened to bring his guitar” along, and where we enjoyed a lovely lunch prepared by Louise Turner, who, with her husband Zane, owns this Station.
Next day, there was “Open Day” at the dugouts. My beastie, Annette, and I travelled once more into White Cliffs where I enjoyed visiting various underground homes. One such home would put “Vogue Interiors” and “Belle Magazine” to shame, such was its magnificence. (In an underground motel)
On the Saturday afternoon we visited the local Hall and admired the work of many local artists. Their artwork was first class. In the evening we again travelled into White Cliffs with Annette’s grandson, Finley, to attend the Festival Concert. And what a concert it was, “The Waking of the Indigenous Animals”, choreographed locally by White Cliffs residents was inspiring. So was the magician!
The next day we picnicked in the creek bed. I saw bird life I had long forgotten – Eagles, Zebra Finches, Willy Wagtails, Sparrows which all seem to have disappeared from my suburb in Sydney to be replaced by the Indian Myna birds.
You, in the outback, work so hard for what you get. You work unceasingly. You achieve much. Life is not easy, but your cheerfulness, your laughter and your kindness will remain with me always.
Thank you Annette and Barry, Denika, Finley and Max, Zane and Louise, Keely and Clancy for your hospitality and your warmer than warm welcome. I had the best time and not only that, each day I was fortunate enough to dine on the best freshly baked bread I have ever tasted.
(Annie with Mabel Turner who is an orphan)