Feb 212013
 

images-7 5.33.32 PMimages-8 5.55.13 PMimages-6 5.55.18 PMWollingbar Cattle Station was seen over the dusty horizon. It was a midsize operation covering an impressive amount of grazing land and outback scrub. and a large creek that served as a needed source of water for a parched land.  It employed fifteen workers.

Donna let her eyes focus on her new surroundings: enormous paddocks as far as her eye could travel, some filled with docile cattle waiting for transportation to larger cities and others corralling beautiful horses who were trotting around the perimeters watching the arrival of the tourists.

The Homestead is the residence of the Cattle Manager or owner of a station.

Jo drove to ute towards the manager’s home, a large homestead with wide verandahs and a well kept lawn.  Flowers and shrubs were in full bloom, a kaleidiscope of colour.  The entire region was justing coming out of the Wet, the name for a season guaranteed to produce torrential rains . The rivers surrounding  Wollingbar were full and a protection against drought which could come unnanounced in any year.  The workers at Wollingbar were glad that the Wet was over.  There was not much to do as the majority of roads were closed and washed away.  The cattle station like so many was isolated by road.  But, the Mitchell Grasses swelled and horses and cattle were let lose to graze.  Some were now ready to be shipped to large towns, and many were shipped live to countries like Japan.

Jo had no sooner stopped the ute when Harry went running over to the Manager. The Missus watched out of her open window.  Harry was first out of the ute and running over to complain about Jo. George, at first,  ignored the man who was yapping in his ear, but he turned towards the bus drive within a yard of Jo, Donna and the tourists

“Get this straight,” George said to Harry.  “She’s one of the best workers I ever hired.

The men respect her and I value her.  So just shut your gob and stay out of my sight!”

George turned warmly to Jo, tipping his hat to Donna and the tourists.

“Good work, mate.  Can always trust you with any job.”

He took turns shaking everyone’s hand.  Then he started to point his finger towards cabins that accommodated workers and visitors.

Bunk house for workers and tourists

“Righto Women sleep in No.6 and men sleep in number 10. And you, Donna,bunk with Jo.”

George looked at his watch.

“Let’s meet over at the house bar-b-q’s for tea or cold drinks and food in about fifteen minutes.”

Jo picked up two of Donna’s heavy bags and led the way to a cabin that stood out from all the unpainted ones.images-5

The  cabin had a small verandah. Jo went around the back and took out a rocking chair and a table. Then, got another chair and brought out pots of plants.   I was adding soil and nutrients to these and left them in the back garden.

“I chose the material and Ma sewed the curtain,” Jo said proudly.  “I built the verandah, rocker and most of the furniture inside.  I like to work with wood.”

Donna stepped inside.

“Nice cupboards.  Did you make them too?”

“Yeah..  Want a 4x?

“Please.”

Jo brought out the famous Queensland beer.

Donna laughed, “We in the Territory say that four x’s is because Queensland people like you, can’t spell beer so you write down four times an x for the bar man.”

“Funny.  Now, try getting another one from me!” Jo quipped.

Donna laughed.

Jo looked at the brilliant smile.  Why couldn’t the woman just enjoy sex for sex’s sake.  She said, “Look, you take my bed. There’s clean sheets in the cupbaord.”

Donna went into the bedroom. She studied the art work on the walls.  There were charcoal sketches of Matilda and some emus.  The cattle station was painted in watercolours as was her built cabin.

“You painted these?”

“Yea. I love it here.”

Donna took her beer and walked out to stare from the verandah across the land.  When Jo emerged to join her, a horse came up to a nearby fence and whinnied towards her.

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“Matilada.”  Jo was so close that Donna closed her eyes.

“She’s beautiful.  At least someone likes you!”

“She’s my best friend.”

Jo placed a hand on Donna’s shoulders.  “We could be best friends, too.”

Donna moved away, but turned and smiled at you.

“I’d like to get to know you, but on a friendship basis.”

Jo ignored the remark.

“Let’s go,” she said, “George is a stickler for punctuality.”