Life inland away from the belt of coastal conurbation is where the true roots of Australian grit remains. While those fringe dwellers have the salty sea breeze to accompany and soften their existence those inland are the salt of the earth itself braving temperatures that creep upward from the thirties and into the forties with no air conditioned office and still manage a days work. There are few who would venture out into the full heat of the day (mad dog and Englishmen) but there’s an early start at sunrise to check for fly blown sheep and later machinery will be cranked up in the shed. By mid morning the sheep are already seeking shelter like an almost invisible wool carpet heads down indistinguishable from the grey granite outcrops within the shade of the red gum, while the dry grass feed remains out of reach in the sizzling hot sun.
Sheds come in all shapes and sizes in Australia but few from the old school see a need for air conditioning within the tin roof and walls. The shed at Boyup Brook is 1000m square and houses Tim’s large stock of native woods plus his woodworking machinery and
from here he is able to produce all manner of objects from windows and doors to dining tables and kitchen units his commissions are many and varied. I joined him this week to use his lathe in turning out jarrah knob handles for a period renovation job. Sandwiches are made and water bottles filled at the farm then we rattle the seven kilometers into Boyup along dusty red dirt roads in the 24 years old Ford Maveric. The massive somber interior of the shed provides welcome shade but inside it’s already over thirty and no air movement. The machines start up, planer thicknesser whirs into action as Tim works on a casement window and I set too with chisels on the lathe, fine jarrah chippings stinging my face and upper body. Working only in board shorts all exposed skin soon takes on a deeper rich suntan of red wood dust. Conditions are harsh but one soon settles down to a rhythm of work, time sales by and mid morning coffee-time has gone, lunch break is taken late as two old philosophers put the world to rights and later as we head into the afternoon talk is of that first cool
Doors are left open over-night for the cool morning breeze to pass through the red rammed earth walls of the house. Thursday treat is a feed of fresh water crayfish from the farm dams and in one sitting we each consume over $100 worth. Life in the country maybe harsh but it is also rich and the people here are full dairy cream compared to their fat free skimmed milk suburban cousins. However the country is suffering as in so many remote areas with the loss of their young people to the seduction of a synthetic city existence. There are country tales a plenty of accidents and disasters of tragedy and lives lost needlessly to machines, illness and snakes that leave me lost in admiration for those who stoically survived and continue without complaint. Here the work ethic is strong amongst the older farmers where massive hands have seen more work in ten year than many younger ones will see in their entire lives.
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