Two and half years ago the stars aligned in my life in a way I’m sure some people are never lucky enough to experience. The job, the house, the guy… everything just fell into place. Those stars were all pointing in one direction, and spelling out: Make the move.
The only issue was that that move was to Burragan – a 70,000 acre grazing property about 1800km from where I was currently calling home, and about 60 million kilometres towards the middle of nowhere.
You know where that big, black cliff on the edge on the world is? Yeah? It’s really not that far from there!
I had visited Burragan once before. It was the summer of 2009/10 and my boyfriend ST and I had travelled from North Queensland to visit his parents on their sheep property in far-western New South Wales. They were in the middle of buying Burragan, which was just down the road from their own place. We had a quick look at the rambling homestead which was about to become officially theirs. It did not enter my mind that I might one day be calling that house (where the ceilings were caving in and the paint job reflected an acid trip from the ‘70s) my home.
Back in the tropics and 12 months on, I’d landed a dream job in a busy TV and radio newsroom. While I wasn’t in love with Townsville as a city, I was keen to spend at least two years in my position before attempting to move on to bigger things. But my husband ST was miserable.
He’d moved to Townsville two years earlier for the sole reason of being with me. And now he was over his job, missing his family, red dirt and wide horizons. So I took a leap of love and told him, “Babe, seeing as you moved to Townsville for me. It’s now my turn to move wherever you want to go. Your choice.”
And while I envisaged selling all our possessions, purchasing some hiking boots and backpacking around Europe, ST started negotiations with his parents to join them back on the land.
I was facing the reality of total isolation AND unemployment, when, by crazy coincidence, I was offered the perfect new job: full time, online, work from home, rural reporter.
But I still cried the day I resigned from the “dream job”… and I cried the day we left Townsville and were still driving at 2am … and I cried on our second day at Burragan, when I couldn’t get the internet to work and I transformed into a monster told the telecommunications spokeswoman I wanted to punch her through the phone line for suggesting I “Just pop into a shop front to fix the problem,” when I’d already explained to her that we’d just driven for two days to get here, and the last town (population 5000) was 200km back. There would be no “just popping” anywhere, thanks lady.
Full time work was a buffer against the realities of station life. There were the obvious changes, like suddenly living in a mouse plague and stressing about not being able to escape if it rained. But for the most part I was living in my own little media world in the home office, punctuated with small doses of accompanying ST in the paddock after hours and on weekends.