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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 11 (Raw)

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Speaker:
Respondent Interviewer
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Average
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IN 00:00:00 OUT 00:41:28
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Trish FitzSimons
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Elizabeth 'Liz' Lawler
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Griffith Film School
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2000-06-04T00:00:00
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11
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Recorded 4 June 2000 Updated 16/12/09. TC is from tape 11_BC_DV Topics in Bold Okay, so the time code is 33 seconds, it’s now 3945 here. This is Tape 11 camera. We’re still in tape 5 DAT. We’re interviewing Liz Debney in the lounge room at Glen Ormiston, 4 June 2000. TC from tape 11_BC_DV So we were talking Liz about the relationship between managers and their wives on properties and you were saying that whilst you mightn’t directly be deploying particular men, that you’re looking at the overall strategies, how did you and Mal negotiate stuff about things environmental on this property, and do you think in general that women take any different role than men in that regard, or are you working very much to company direction?
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WITH LIZ DEBNEY
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Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 11
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Environment Pastoral Companies
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No obvious faults with sound and vision.
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Recorded creative work created by permission of the copyright holder. Copyright in individual works within this collection belongs to their authors or publishers.
Contributor:
Liz Debney
Description
Interview with Liz Debney. Tape 2 of 3.
Identifier
11_BC_DV_DEBNEY
part of:
Title
Braided Channels of History Recording & Transcript - 11
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35121
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11_BC_DV_DEBNEY-raw.txt
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11_BC_DV_DEBNEY#Raw
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Raw

11_BC_DV_DEBNEY-raw.txt — 34 KB

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                             WITH LIZ DEBNEY
                             Recorded 4 June 2000
                               Updated 16/12/09.
                           TC is from tape 11_BC_DV
                                  Topics in Bold

                            I = Interviewer              R = Respondent

Okay, so the time code is 33 seconds, it’s now 3945 here. This is Tape 11 camera.
        We’re still in tape 5 DAT. We’re interviewing Liz Debney in the lounge
        room at Glen Ormiston, 4 June 2000.

        TC from tape 11_BC_DV

        So we were talking Liz about the relationship between managers and their
        wives on properties and you were saying that whilst you mightn’t directly be
        deploying particular men, that you’re looking at the overall strategies, how
        did you and Mal negotiate stuff about things environmental on this property,
        and do you think in general that women take any different role than men in
        that regard, or are you working very much to company direction?

R       Gosh. What was the first part of the question?

I       Well, how do you and Mal do it?

R       00:01:13:14   Ummm, probably we’ve both got very similar philosophies as
        far as the environment goes and I think it’s very similar to a lot of people
        who live out here in that if we don’t, we know if we don’t protect this
        environment nobody else will because we’re the ones living here. I really
        don’t have anything to do with the day-to-day running of the place where
        that’s concerned. For example, the grader driver Mal will, he directs the
        grader driver when we’ve got one, which we don’t at the moment, and he has
        him constructing            boys which are bumps in the road to direct the
        flow of water to stop erosion and that’s probably the main management
        strategy that he does on a daily basis, as far as the environment goes. We did
        have a landcare group in this area, which we were very much part of, but it
        has since folded just due to lack of numbers, just too few people and too
        much distance and nothing … landcare is something that you really need a
    concentration of people who can get together to do things for it to work. I
    know of other managers’ wives that are terribly interested in the environment
    and probably it’s something that they get very involved in and they’re on
    committees. It’s not an interest for me in that way. What else was there?

I   Is there company policy in that regard?

R   Pastoral Companies cc Environment

    00:02:56:14    Yes. Yeah, the company employs an environmental person
    whose actual title I’ve forgotten. We call him the grass man or the landcare
    man but, yes, they’re very much aware of it and this is only in recent years
    that they’ve employed somebody like that. Each property has a satellite map,
    or a satellite photograph, huge satellite photograph, and they use that for new
    fence lines. If new fence lines are being put in, they use the map to work out
    the best place to put the fences and that sort of thing so, yeah, the
    environment’s definitely a … we’re looking after the environment. Another
    … at lunch time when you asked Mal how many cattle, he said ‘At the
    moment we have 7,000’ and the significance of that is that in an extremely,
    in a good season, the two properties us and Roxborough can probably run
    twice that many or even more, but because we’ve had dry times and it’s
    company policy that you de-stock, you don’t flog the country, because we’ve
    had a lot of cattle, of breeder cows, be sent away because it’s been very dry
    but now we’re having a very good season, a lot of them are coming back.

I   Somebody that I interviewed early on in this process, whose family had
    owned a big station and recently sold it, put to me the notion that generally
    owners of land have looked after the land long-term a lot better than
    companies because companies were needing to extract maximum profit for
    shareholders but that they didn’t feel too bad that the property had now been
    sold to a company because the companies had recently woken up to the need
    to look after the land. What would you say to that kind of perspective?

R   Ummm, I would say that that’s a, oh what’s the word?

I   Generalisation?
R   Pastoral Companies cc Land Owners

    00:05:22:10    Generalisation.   That that person’s frame of reference is
    coming from being a private person. There’s definitely a company/private
    sort of … there’s two, polarisation almost, in these areas. You’d probably
    find company people that said the same thing about private people, you
    know, ‘Private people. Never look after their places’. Yeah, I think it’s too
    much of a generalisation. It’s my experience over the years that … and I’ve
    seen this happen on several occasions, where a private property has been
    next door to a company property.         The private person’s criticised the
    company left, right and centre until they wanted to sell the place and then
    they go begging to the company, basically, ‘Oh, you know, please buy my
    property for millions of dollars’ so the companies are fine when you want to
    sell your place but I think there have … it’s like anything, there are good
    ones and bad ones. Good companies, companies that have managed the
    country well, companies that haven’t. Private people that have managed the
    country well, private people that haven’t. It’s the same with staff. Some
    companies manage their staff well, some don’t. Some private people do,
    some don’t.

I   Now in relation to how the company impacts on your life on a daily basis, I’d
    like you to explain how Glen Ormiston relates … you know the stuff we
    were talking about at lunch and the mail plane coming in once a week. On a
    daily basis, how is the fact that this is a company property, how does that
    impact on your life?

R   Communications
    00:07:12:02    Ahhh, well I’ll just retrace a little bit. Back in the seventies
    this company was smaller but it owned Alexandria in the Northern Territory
    and these four properties in the Channel Country. It’s had them for a long
    time. And in the Channel Country there were road mails and in the seventies
    the road mails just ceased and it meant that these properties were just left
    with absolutely no mail delivery whatsoever and this company made a
    decision then to buy a plane and service its own properties, which is what it’s
    been doing since 1975 I think.
TAPE 1 – SIDE B

R     00:07:58:22    We now, in recent years, about two years ago, we now get a
      road mail from Boulia as well, which means that we have neighbours to the
      south who are two little privately-owned places, or not little places, but two
      privately-owned places. Until then, they just did not have a mail service at
      all. One of them would get their mail on our mail plane but they had no way
      of getting groceries or anything. So the company basically did it as a service,
      to provide the service to their people, and we get the plane once a week. He
      brings our mail and fresh fruit and vegies and bread and parts, vehicle parts
      and that sort of thing.

I     So you ring through and order or email it?

R     Mmmm. Oh, the office in Mt Isa isn’t quite up to email yet. They’ve got the
      computer and they’ve got an email address but the fellow up there is still
      back in the seventies.

I     And do you want to just explain that thing about how this property is a
      breeding property, like the way that the different NAPCO properties
      interrelate?

R     Pastoral Companies

      Okay.    Well NAPCO is a vertically integrated company in that it has
      breeding properties and the calves are weaned and sent to grower properties.
      From there they’re sent to the feed lot which is down in south-east
      Queensland.

I     And how do you fit into that?

R     00:09:39:10    Glen Ormiston’s a breeding property. When we first came
      here we had some breeders but we were also a fattening property, and that
      was back in the days when this company fattened for the Japops market,
      before they owned the feed lot. So we would get steers from the Northern
      Territory as well as breed our own, fatten them into those great big fat
      bullocks, and then send them off. But those days are long gone and now we
    breed, send our weaners further down into the Channel Country where they
    grow, and then they’re sent to the feed lot.

I   And do those kind of shifts in the economic basis of the property, do they
    impact upon your life in an obvious fashion?

R   No. No. Not really, no.

I   So let’s talk now about your interest in history. Where did that arise from
    and how did that lead you into an Arts degree and how did that fit into your
    life?

R   00:10:47:19    Okay. When I first, when we came here, well Glen Ormiston
    has an historical feel about it. I mean, this house that we’re sitting in was
    100 years old two years ago and there are diaries and other records here
    dating back from, some of them around the turn of the century. The diaries
    start a little bit later than that. Letter books. All incredibly fragile, but
    they’re here, and during those first years that we were here it was something
    I always wanted to do was dig into all this stuff and do something with it but
    I wasn’t sure how to and I was too busy teaching school and feeding men.
    And then the company had a history done. I’ve lost the word I wanted to
    use.

I   Commissioned.

R   Thank you, commissioned. Commissioned a history, which was written by
    Margaret Cowald and a fellow called Ross Johnson? Book’s on the shelf
    over there behind me but I can’t see it.

I   I know Pam Watson’s got a copy.

R   History/Work
    00:12:10:20    Mmmm, but when Margaret Cowald was doing the research
    she came here and I got talking to her and she suggested that if I did a degree
    that that would … and I didn’t understand then, but I know exactly now what
    she was talking about, would give me the skills that I’d need to do this sort of
    research, and I realise now that I’ve done the degree what she meant. So that
    was how I started, why I started it, and I majored in history and literature but
    I also did a fair amount of sociology and I found that while I was studying
    my interest just sort of went in other directions, and then as I finished … it
    took me six-and-a-half years to do it and the finishing of it coincided with me
    getting this, or with all this training culture developing within the industry
    and the company and me getting this part-time role within the company,
    whereas originally I wanted to … I did my first degree because I wanted to
    be an historian. That’s still something, and I’m still working, I started
    working through the diaries. I think I’m up to about 1946. It’s very much
    something I do in my spare time which isn’t very often.      00:13:42:02

I   Now when we’re talking diaries, we’re not talking, I feel, happy …

R   No, no, these are all very much work diaries.

I   So what might a daily entry consist of, just for instance?

R   Ummm, men mustered such and such an area. Somebody else went out and
    fixed the fence. That a killer was, a beast was killed for meat. That sort of
    thing. Yep.

I   Do you find that diary, do you pick up much on the race relations history of
    this property?

R   No, not from the diaries. No. Although the language, of course, is very, well
    back in the thirties, you know, the Aborigines that were working here had
    names like Tommy and Billy and that sort of thing but no, there’s not enough
    in there for that to come through.

I   Pastoral Companies

    Are there Aboriginal people working on this property now?

R   No, not now. No. Haven’t been for a long time.

I   So what do you know about that history because, I guess, having interviewed
    Isabel Tarrago, I know something about her parents. But I’m interested in
    what you know about that history.
R   00:15:10:04    Not a great deal. I know little things like this was the … Glen
    Ormiston was a very important trading area back before the days of white
    men and that’s been documented to a certain extent. The trade was based on
    pituri and it does, there is still some growing here.

I   Isabel McBride has written about that I think, hasn’t she?

R   Aboriginal History

    00:15:40:10    Yeah, I think that’s who it is, yeah. And you can find, or there
    have been found artefacts here that the stone that they’re made from is not
    from this area, so I’m very aware of that, that there’s an extremely rich
    Aboriginal history here as far as the trading goes and obviously the
    waterholes where this house is built, and there’s another waterhole similar
    about 15k to the north of us, to the west of us. They would have been very
    permanent bases, I would imagine, where they’d lived. What else am I
    aware of?

I   You would have lived here … oh, sorry, I cut you off.

R   I was just thinking with Isabel Tarrago’s mum and …

I   Her dad was no … her mum was Topsy Hanson and her dad got written
    inside my book …

R   Was he Snapshot? Was Snapshot her dad?

I   Snapshot Hanson.

R   Well they were extremely well-respected and sort of employees of … they’re
    part of the history of Glen Ormiston and very … people who remember
    them, you know, love to tell you stories about Topsy and Snapshot.

I   So tell me, I’m very interested in that. Tell me some of the stories you would
    have …

R   Oh, I can’t remember any specific ones. Snapshot’s in the diaries where I’m
    up to. He’s already appearing in the diaries, yep.
I   And why would they be respected?

R   I don’t know. I think just the people that they were. Just their … they were
    the sort of people that gained respect and …

I   Talking to Isabel, I’d have to confess to it almost sounding like a kind of
    tragedy.   Isabel described growing up here as a child and this being
    traditional country of both her parents and then it was while she was away at
    boarding school and Charters Towers that … I don’t know what shifted
    exactly but I think it had to do with the end of the Act and equal pay for
    Aboriginal people coming through and so Aboriginal people no longer being
    welcome to work on the properties. I don’t know whether ‘ejection from
    paradise’ is like an appropriate metaphor with how you’re feeling right now,
    but yes, I’m just interested in your perspective on that and I’d love you to tell
    me the story of when you met Isabel.

R   00:18:35:23    Ummm, Isabel came out here with her husband and daughter,
    I think.

I   Yes, she’s got a daughter.

R   Race Relations

    Yeah, the daughter … to scatter Topsy’s ashes up at Lake Wandidda which
    is, I think, where Topsy was born, and I only met her the once and I
    remember thinking then I’d love to … they didn’t have much time but I’d
    love to sit down and really have a talk to her and find out what she
    remembers about growing up here and …

I   How would you define race relations in this area? Do whites and Aboriginal
    people mix, or are you essentially in different tracks?

R   That’s a very complex question to ask a person sitting here wired with a … I
    mean, I have my own personal views. I have my views of the views of other
    people, so I guess it’s what perspective you want me to come at it from.
I   Well, the personal one is probably the easiest. Just how you … because it’s a
    key question for Australia at the moment, isn’t it? It’s something we’ve got
    to get sorted.

R   Mmmm, and it’s something that when you live out here it’s very easy to get
    annoyed with urban people who automatically class us as racist because we
    may make statements like ‘There is a problem in Boulia with the Aborigines
    and alcohol’, so if I make that statement in an urban context I’m likely to be
    classed as a racist, whereas I don’t consider that I am. I’m simply stating an
    observation. Where was I leading to with that one?

I   Well, it’s all about perspective.

R   00:20:49:10      Yes. And I think familiarity, I mean, the six years that we
    lived at Alexandria there were a number of Aboriginal families there. My
    kids grew up and played with Aboriginal children and didn’t actually have
    very many … they had white playmates on other stations but the kids that
    they grew up with, and I mean my photo albums are just full of photos of my
    kids with their little white faces amongst all these … I remember, when we
    first lived at Alexandria there was a school there and I did three years as the
    teacher’s aide at the school when my kids were quite tiny and I remember
    walking into the schoolroom once and all these kids had their arms out and
    one of the older boys was doing a comparison and he’d obviously … and he
    was a half-caste kid.      He’d considered himself as normal and he was
    comparing every other kid to him so some were black, some were really
    black and some were pretty pale. And then my kids had their little arms
    stuck in front of him and he said ‘Oh, you’re really white’ as if that was
    really bad, you know, and they looked terribly disappointed because they
    were really white. And that was the sort of thing that …

I

R   00:22:14:00      Yeah, so it’s, in the big picture for the record I think John
    Howard should say ‘Sorry’ but I didn’t used to think that. I’ve come around
    to thinking that over the last probably twelve months because I really think
    … I’m a great believer in life in general. One of my philosophies is ‘draw a
    line in the sand and move forward’ and I think if he got that over and done
    with, we could all draw a line in the sand and move forward.

I   So what shifted in the last twelve months?

R   Ummm, probably his stubborn attitude has made me think about it more. I
    think, yeah, I don’t know, I’d have to sit down and really think that one
    through.

I   You’ve lived on this property through the era of both Mabo and WIK.

R   Mmmm.

I   What do you remember about hearing of those decisions coming through and
    has there been like a ripple effect out here?

R   Native Title

    00:23:31:10    Ummm, oh definitely. It seems to have gone very quiet lately
    but there were claims on properties around us and I know that the people
    involved have been very frightened and worried by it. Once again, it’s one
    of those things that it’s fine when it’s happening somewhere else, I mean the
    whole Mabo thing, it just seemed ludicrous that they didn’t have ownership
    of those island, or that island, but when it comes closer to home that’s when
    you start to think ‘Oh, yes, I’m not so sure’. Yeah, I don’t know that handing
    back vast areas of Australia would solve any problems. It’s …

I   So is this leasehold or freehold?

R   Leasehold.

I   Leasehold? So it’s then subject, as I understand it, potentially subject to a
    Native Title claim?

R   Yes, most of western Queensland is, yeah.

I   Are there Native Title … I’m not aware of any Native Title claims here?

R   No. Not that we know of, no.
I   How often would that issue come up for discussion?

R   Oh, not very. No.

I   And where would you run across Aboriginal people in your life?

R   00:25:04:10    Ummm, well occasionally we have them working here, just
    from time to time. Coming on to the place, there’s a pig catcher. We have a
    feral pig problem here and we allow people to come on with permission.
    There are some people that come on to Roxborough without permission and
    that’s frowned upon but we have some people who have permission to come
    here catching pigs and one of the fellows that comes quite regularly is an
    Aboriginal fellow that … what else? I’ve got friends who employ them. I
    know some of the people, Aboriginal people, in Boulia personally. There’s
    one fellow that, when Mal and I were … when Mal was head stockman at
    Monkira he was the grader driver down there and we’re still good friends,
    you know. We see him in town, we have a big yarn and usually talk about
    old times and that sort of thing.

I   So if I was to say that from a city perspective, I mean for me, from a city
    perspective land and questions of race around land seem to me a pressing
    issue for Australia. I look at this film and the process that I’ve travelled
    through in the ten years since I started to think about making it and questions
    around race and land have grown bigger in my brain. Does that accord with
    your perspective or do you think I’ve spent too long in the coffee shops of
    Brisbane?

R   Native Title/Aboriginal History

    00:26:51:03    Yes, I do. The thing that I always think of when people start
    discussing this is if you go back before white people came to Australia,
    where would the concentration of Aborigines have been? Now, I’m only
    guessing, but I would imagine along the coast where the concentration of
    white people are now. And I know that every now and then a few rednecks
    bring this one up but to people living out here it’s a very real question. How
    come it’s alright to give the outback back to the Aborigines but you don’t
    give the coastal areas back to them? And it’s very political and it’s all to do
    with politics and economy and from my perspective, if we’re going to give
    back areas of land that was their traditional land, let’s be fair dinkum about it
    and give them back areas of the coast.                00:27:57:09

I   Yes, I mean, there’s a couple of things in there. One is I think it’s certainly
    true that human beings, all of us, you know the NIMBY? Not in my back
    yard.

R   Yeah, exactly.

I   So I think all of us find things harder to handle …

R   In our back yard.

I   … in our back yard. The population question. What I understand from Pam
    Watson who’s done quite a lot of first anthropology and then history in this
    area, is that actually the Georgina was a really important population base.

R   Mmmm. Yes. Yeah, actually it’s …

I   … for Aboriginal people and she’s documented people that would walk from
    Windorah to the Bunya Mountains, that it was kind of good land, I guess. I
    think it’s true that whites and Aboriginal people have tended to really value
    …

R   The same land.

I   …                     of land and this I would think is very valuable land.

R   Mmmm.

I   So moving on from that then, tell me about your current study.

R   00:29:06:16      I’m currently undertaking an Education Degree in Adult and
    Workplace Education which ties in very much … in fact, I’ve been
    fascinated by how closely it does tie in with this part-time role I have within
    the company and I’m doing it with a view to having something to fall back
    on when we do leave this particular way of life.
I   So that’s something I’d like to unpick a bit. This would seem to be … I
    haven’t done my sums. Help me. You’re 47?

R   46.

I   46. So you spent a lot of your life in western Queensland and …

R   Mmmm, all my adult life I’ve spent in western Queensland basically.

I   So what are the things causing you to think about changing that and what
                   imagine a future …?

R   00:30:12:13    Okay. Ummm, well my age is very significant because back
    when you’re in your twenties and thirties, twenty years is you’re still going
    to be a relatively young person, whereas once you get to your mid-forties, in
    twenty years you’re approaching being elderly, which is fairly scary. I really
    want to … I want the next twenty years of my life to count and I guess I
    believe that I’ve done basically all that I can do here, that I am ready for a
    different, for other challenges and other … to go down other paths. I think
    the mid-life crisis is a very real phenomenon and I think it’s partly that, that
    just simply not wanting, just wanting a change, wanting to do something
    different. The problem is that neither of us have any desire whatsoever to
    live on the coast or in a city so the challenge is what do two middle-aged
    people, who only have a station background, do for the next twenty years of
    their lives? When we find the answer to that, we’ll go and do it.

I   And when you say the mid-life crisis is a real phenomenon, you look around
    you and see that you’re not Robinson Crusoe in these kinds of feelings?

R   Mmmm, yeah. I think a lot of it’s got to do with people’s personalities. I
    think some people probably just ignore it. Some people are frightened of
    change. It’s to do with their personality. Sister Ann Marie and I have great
    long discussions about this every time she comes because, you know, she
    says ‘Oh, but Liz, some people just don’t want things to change’ because
    I’m, you know, I like change I think.

I   I mean, she herself is about …
R   About to change, yes.

I   So when you say you don’t want to live in the city or the coast, is that
    because you’d say you love the land?

R   Women/Land
    00:32:35:00    Yes, yeah. I just love the outback, the open country, the
    colours, ummm, mmmm, the whole … and I think I also like the idea of
    being a big fish in a little pond, even though geographically it’s a huge area,
    socially and culturally we’re, you know, big fishes in a little pond, whereas if
    I went to live in Brisbane I’d be a little fish in a very big pond.

I   So you like to know most of the people you run into on the street?

R   00:33:09:15    Yeah. Mmmm. And just the, I guess, loyalty to the way of
    life. I don’t … I can’t imagine not living somewhere where I guess everyone
    wears big hats and cowboy boots and it’s just … I’d probably be one of those
    people that look very much out of place in the city. Although I can blend in
    when I go down there.

I   Is there anything that you miss from the city, having grown up there?

R   Ummm. No. Not that I can think of.

I   So if you were to encapsulate the history of country women, this is I guess a
    sort of a rounding up question, the history of women in the Channel Country
    as you have known it, what would strike you?

R   00:34:13:20    Ummm, I’d say, oh, the history. Ummm, in general most of
    the women who live out here are very much individuals, people who can
    enjoy their own company, who can cope with the things that this life throws
    up. I think you have … I always say you don’t have to be mad but it helps.
    But they’re very much, they’re a particular … oh I’m generalising now but
    very much a type of person who really wouldn’t be happy in the city and I
    think that’s why quite often when we get together socially, because we’re
    mostly women who are very much alike in those aspects, we enjoy our social
    gatherings but we don’t need to have them every week or … but by the same
    token, one of the reasons that I am looking forward to a change from this
    particular way of life is that now that I don’t have children to teach and …
    because that, for me when I had my kids on School of the Air and distance
    ed, that was like a little world that you were … I mean, through the radio you
    were in contact with people every day and once that went I am starting to
    personally feel the need to have more people around me. But I think it’s to
    do with the stage I’m at in my life and the fact that I don’t have kids around
    any more.

I   There was a quote, somewhere when I was researching before I came out
    here, there was a quote from a woman in a property in South Australia in the
    nineteenth century, something like ‘I physically ached for the sight and
    sound of another human being’, talking about great loneliness.         Is that
    something you could relate to some form of?

R   00:36:39:12     Oh, not in that extreme, to that degree, because I mean, I see
    other human beings every day. But just, yeah, I’ve never known that sort of
    loneliness so I can’t really relate to it. No.

I   Had we not been with you at lunch today, you would have been one woman
    with six or seven men for lunch?

R   Mmmm.

I   Would the concept, if I could call it gender loneliness, but being lonely for
    other women, is that something that bears any relation to you?

R   No. No.

I   It’s been the state of your life, hasn’t it?

R   Relations amongst Women

    Mmmm. In fact, to me, one of the most horrifying thoughts is more than
    about four women in one place at a time. I remember when my kids were
    little, I was visiting a friend in Toowoomba. She had to take her little one
    along to an immunisation clinic and I was just horrified. All these women
    and babies. It was just scary. No, it’s not something that’s been an issue.

I   So is there anything I haven’t asked you about that seems to you really
    striking, to get some kind of sense of your life?

R   Not that I can think of, no.

I   Okay. I just wanted a bit of clarification about something you said earlier,
    that it was unusual that you and Mal married when he was a stockman rather
    than a head stockman.

R   Mmmm.

I   Why was that unusual? I know statistically you said that normally people
    married when they were head stockmen, but what was ... how was that so?
    Why was that so?

R   Ummm.       Probably because the fellows in particular don’t get the
    opportunities to meet girls until they get sort of further … I don’t know, it’s
    …

I

R   00:38:59:08    Yeah. Although that’s changing now that we’re getting more
    females coming onto the properties. For example, our head stockman here
    and his girlfriend, who are very much a couple now, they both met when they
    were both working here four years, five years ago, and she came here as a
    jillaroo and he was a, you know, a young station hand. I had a girl working
    for me last year. She came as a female trainee and couldn’t cope with the
    outdoor work and was quite upfront about it and was going to leave. I said
    ‘Don’t do that. If you like, you can give me a hand. You can do some
    cooking and stuff’, so she did. She and a fellow who was working here are
    now a couple on a property up near Mt Isa. So it’s starting to … it’s almost
    like it’s coming around and there are … people are … because there are more
    girls coming out here, but mostly they were sort of, a lot of the women were
    teachers or nurses and so the young fellows sort of didn’t get to meet them
    till they were socially mixing in the same circles, that sort of thing.

I   So they’d need to have a bit of a future ahead of them before they’d ever be
    considered husband material?

R   I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s how it is or whether they just …
    mmmm. Don’t know.

I   What would it be about being head stockman that you’d have more
    opportunity to actually mix? I don’t understand that.

R   No, I don’t …

I

R   I don’t understand why I’ve said that either.         Let me think.       Ummm.
    Possibly more ahhh … would go to things where you’re more likely to meet
    people. Ummm. No, that doesn’t make sense either.

I   It would be about class, wouldn’t it?

R   No. It’s not about class. It’s … I don’t know. I’ve never thought it through.

I   Would the head stockman have more responsibility that they actually have to
    do more business in town?

R   00:41:29:24     Yeah, that sort of thing, yep.      They’re more likely to be
    introduced to somebody, which I guess could be a bit of a class thing. This is
    the head stockman. But to be known, because they’ve been in the district
    longer.

I   More established.

R   You know, like if Clayton went into Boulia, there’s a fair chance that people
    would say ‘Oh, that’s that young fellow, he’s the head stockman at Glen
    Ormiston’, whereas if one of those two young fellows that were there this
    morning went in, ‘I wonder where he works’.
Tape Ends 00:42:04:18

I      Historically there was something like one woman for every eight men …

R      Something like that, yeah.

I      … out here. Looking at the history, there would appear to be a pretty horrific
       history of, well some of it just sexual interaction between black and white.

       [gap in tape here]

R      And Alex, which is actually three properties, that there’s two outstations.
       And one of them was telling me they just couldn’t get over these girls and
       they just … they do the same things the blokes are doing. Yes? Oh, and he
       just … and then he got here and there was Tammy who’s a very feminine
       looking young lady but she can ride a bike and do all these things, and …

I      This is the head stockman’s girlfriend?

R      Mmmm. And then they got down to Monkira and there’s a girl working
       down there who I know very well because she worked here last year and
       Mary Ann grew up in this country. She’s lived in this area all her life. She’s
       not one of these girls who’s come from the city to learn to be a jillaroo.
       She’s basically done it all her life and apparently he just kept following her
       around and saying ‘Oh, I just can’t get over the things you girls can do’, but
       the ultimate was they finished the motorbike course and they had the
       afternoon to spare so they went … the station staff were going killing so they
       took these two fellows with them and Mary Ann had the axe and opened the
       head up and getting the brains out and this bloke apparently just shook his
       head and said ‘You are one tough bitch’. And she didn’t know whether to be
       offended or sort of thought, you know …

I      I was just going to say that, of course, the reply to chaps who are having that
       kind of difficulty with reality is to tell them what Ginger Rogers said about
       what she did in her life, which was …

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