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Published: January 24th 2016
Melissa has flown in. She has hired a car from the airport and is taking us to the farm that she once worked at to get her second year working visa.
The cow farm is just a couple of hours away but is very remote. I remember her telling me once that it took her 2 hours to walk to the main road from the farm in the pursuit of a mobile phone signal. While it was simply too remote for a city girl who loves to chat with her friends, she remembers the children fondly and has kept in touch with the Mum Jas. We are guaranteed to see kangaroos she tells us as we remark how we haven't a single one since we arrived in the country.
After a few hours we arrive at the farm and the little girl Georgia who is now 5 is sitting on
the steps to the farm office. She waves as she might to any unknown visitor that she doesn't recognise. Mum Jas hasn't told Georgia that Melissa is coming and has kept it as a surprise and it is over a year since Melissa left the farm and at first she is not sure who we are. Do you remember me Georgia, I used to look after you Melissa asks as she bends down to pick her up. Georgia's face lights up in recognition and gives her a big hug. Little Ely who is Georgia's younger brother comes running out of the office in his cowboy boots, shorts held up with a leather belt and a farm uniform shirt looking every inch a cowboy in the making. Ely is not quite 3 yet and wasn't talking when Melissa left but now there is no stopping his chatter and Melissa was thrilled to hear him call her name for the first time.
Jas comes out to greet us and Craig arrives in his 4x4 to show us
around the farm. We all jump in a Ely jumps in between his Dad and Martin on the front seats. He is obviously very accustomed to going to work with his Dad and they clearly have a great bond with each other. This is a cow feedlot where they feed cows up for the abattoir but this is true cowboy country and they also have horses to round up the cattle. When Melissa was last here one of them gave birth to a foal and at the time she was not only keeping in touch with her best friends including Hannah, she was keeping in touch with Lyla, Hannah's daughter. Through FaceTime Melissa introduced Georgia to Lyla so when the foal was born Georgia called her Lyla and we went off to meet her. We take some photos to show to Lyla and then drive around to see how the farm operates. I thought I was used to cows having a dozen or so periodically grazing in the field opposite us at home but never I seen so many on this scale. The cows live in mud pens with not a single blade of grass in sight but they are
fed 3 times a day with a mixture of quality feeds that are custom mixed for their clients.
We get to see the living quarters where Melissa lived for 3 months. They are basically 3 caravans arranged in a U shape and Jas and Craig have since added a veranda with shade for some extra comfort but this is real regional farm work living.
We then go and check on the chickens or 'chucks' as they call them. We have discovered that the Aussies don't like syllables and whenever they can, they take them out. There are 15 chucks and we collect the latest batch of 6 eggs and let them out for a run around. It used to one of Melissa's jobs to round up the chucks back into their pen but when she first arrived somehow a horse had managed to get in the pen and
a second one was trying to get in too. She got so frustrated with her failed attempts to remove the horses and get the chucks back in that she simply burst into tears and called at the office for help. Naturally they laughed at this city girl struggling with basic farm duties but in time she learned and got quite proficient at rounding them back in unless Ely and Georgia choosing to be obstructive, would sit in front of the gate so the chucks couldn't go back in. We laugh at the memory.
We then make our way over to the farm house and there are calfs just the other side of the garden fence, it makes it easier to feed them by being close Craig explains. The calfs all come running over anticipating a feed and Craig gives Ely and Georgia a ride on their back. Ely instinctively knows to kick his heals to encourage the cows to walk as he would a horse.
Jas shows us around their great family home,
Georgia shows Melissa the Xmas card that she got from her and we get out the gifts that we have brought for the children. Melissa has brought Georgia a ballerina dressing up outfit and a pair of ballet shoes and she has bought Ely a Spider-Man outfit. Georgia opens her present and is delighted but Ely spots that she has ballet shoes too and complains that it is not fair that Georgia has two presents and throws his present down in disgust. Now to us, it was so funny but of course to Jas and Craig, he was being ungrateful and rude. Craig takes him off and we spot that the Spider-Man outfit has a hat attached to it. We take off the tag and semi wrap it up again so when he returns, we show him his second gift but this kid is not stupid, he unwraps it, sees what it is and again throws it down, complaining that it was rubbish. Once again Jas and Craig are mortified but he is just a kid and not even 3 yet so is still learning his social skills and we probably didn't help because we just found it so funny.
Jas makes us drinks to be taken on the veranda and she has baked fresh home made scones with jam and cream and they are delicious. We have taken some sweets and Jas tells them that they can have two each. Ely eats two quickly and dives in for more but Mum is watching and tells him to put them back, but I just want to eat them all at once complains Ely as he walks off to his own little self designated naughty spot with his bottom lip hanging out. Craig manages to distract Ely and he climbs on his knee to join us back at the table and we all sit around chatting including the kids.
Now Jas is only one year older than Melissa and with Craig they have the responsibility of a cattle farm with approx 3500 - 7000 cattle at any one time. Their working day can start at 5am through to 8pm and it's obvious that this is some hard working young couple with a couple of
We really can't take up much more of their time, these are busy farmers and they have already been hospitable enough so we make a move to go but agree to help chase the chucks back in for nostalgias sake. Ely puts on his cowboy boots and hat and Georgia comes out in her new ballerina outfit but they are every bit as capable for bringing the chucks in as the rest of us. These really are such cute kids and what a lifestyle they have.We hug and kiss and wave goodbye and thank them for their hospitality. Georgia says that she will to remember Melissa by............I suspect Craig and Jas went straight back to work as soon as we left.
That was one of my favourite days, says Martin as we leave, I've met a real cowboy on a real outback farm. Melissa is delighted to
have seen the kids again and I am glad to have put pictures and faces to Melissa's farm work experience. We drive slowly back to the main road looking out for kangaroos. There were times when there were hundreds in these fields Melissa tells us as we struggled to spot any but then Martin shouts, there they are - 2 kangaroos just watching us! Thankfully their curiosity lasted long enough for us to get some photos before they hopped off out of sight. Thank god for that I think, I had visions of making the whole journey at 30kph in the pursuit of kangaroos but we still haven't seen any wallabies says Martin.......!
We get back to Noosa Heads and plump for an Italian restaurant and sit outside. This was one of the main streets of Noosa, and there are fruit bats flying everywhere and they are huge and I
mean huge. They must have had the bodies the size of a small rabbit and wing spans of up to a meter and they are flying under the tree line all the way down this street. The silhouettes were unmistakable and it was an incredible sight to see. Another tick to our wildlife list!
More photos below.
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