cattle stations

my great uncle Bob is exactly what you’d expect from an australian farmer. he’s approximately 65 years old and he’s a cattle farmer on a station (a station is a fuck off huge ranch, basically, it’s a couple thousand acres) and he’s this beanpole of a man who looks like he’s spent his entire life outside because, well, he has. he also drives this ancient beat-up yellow ute which is more rust than car at this point and was made in approximately 1980. it’s old. 

anyway he was driving to the far end of the station the other day and an emu ran out in front of his car and he hit it, only it didn’t die, it came flying through the windshield, still alive and mostly unharmed. so there’s my uncle and this emu which is now sitting in the front seat of his car and understandably the emu is pretty pissed off and the first thought that goes through Bob’s head is “oh shit it’s going to start kicking me” so he figures the best way to stop it doing that is to punch it in the face and that is the story of how my uncle got in a fistfight with an emu.

Japangardi Miller spent his early childhood living a traditional and nomadic Warlpiri life. The first time he saw white men was around 1928, during the time of the Coniston Massacre which was one of the last events of the frontier wars. He saw the men and their guns and heard about their bullets which had already killed many Warlpiri people. Japangardi was placed under the control of a white pastoralist and was used, along many other indigenous peoples, for free labour in the mines and cattle stations. He drove cattle from near the West Australian border to near Brisbane, at the end of the trip, his boss sold the horses, forcing Japangardi and his colleagues to walk all the way back home.

After a lifetime of hard physical work, he moved back to Mount Theo and with his sister in law, Peggy Brown, began to provide refuge and help for those youths addicted to sniffing petrol. Mrs Brown and Japangardi began this rehabilitation program completely out of their own pockets, using their age pensions to run activities for the kids and buy extra food and clothing. All their work was voluntary. His methodology was simple: take young addicted people out into the bush, teach them traditional law and country skills, and let the power of the land and culture heal their spirit. In 1994, half the teenage population of Yuendumu (Central Australias largest indigenous community) was sniffing petrol, but eight years later no one sniffed at all, and ex addicts went on to become youth leaders and community workers. Modern treatment does not commonly advise such ‘alternative’ methods as this. Australian social policy analysts deemed petrol sniffing in central Australia an ‘unsolvable problem’, and to primary western methods of treatment, it was.

Japangardi passed away on the 31st of October last year.

I’ve actually gotten on really well with most of the people I’ve met from rural WA, but like… my state is twice the size of Texas with like a tenth of the population, it’s a whole lot of cattle stations, open mines, wheat fields, 40 degree heat - it’s no surprise that there are some hardcore jesus loving homophobes out there, but I have to say I am surprised that they wanted to come and study European cinema at uni