Sarah Elks,in The Australian, 27 January 2016, deploys two European workers to celebrate Australia Day via its iconic outback
Daphne Luyten, 30, from Belgium and Richard Larsson, 21, From Sweden reflect on their Australian work experience near Birdsville with station manger Don Raymond
As a fierce sun dips beyond the horizon on Adria Downs cattle station, Belgian ex-police officer Daphne Luyten examines her bruised shins and blistered palms and decides she’s lucky. Lucky to be in a peaceful far-flung corner of Australia’s Simpson Desert, lucky to be far from the terror raids that have shocked her homeland, and lucky even to have the hard-won bruises and blisters, earned during a long day branding mischievous calves recently.
“I just love it out here; the red sand, the desert,” said 30-year-old Ms Luyten, who is working as a station hand on the property, outside Birdsville in far southwest Queensland, on a one-year internship visa. “I like the job, and the people. It’s the open spaces. I feel more free.” For Ms Luyten, Australia Day was a perfect excuse to take a break from the tough work, share a beer with her workmate, 21-year-old machinery driver Richard Larsson, from Sweden, and gruff but quick-to-grin station manager Don Rayment.
Reflecting on life at Adria, Ms Luyten said it was nothing like she expected, based on the green hills of Australian rural television dramaMcLeod’s Daughters. Even still, she longs to stay. “It’s my dream to work on a station forever; if I could, I would,” she said.
Machinery-obsessed Mr Larsson, 21, is in Australia to gain experience in farm management. Back in Sweden, Mr Larsson’s future is set: to take over his family grain farm and piggery. “But I’m trying to get my parents to move here,” he toldThe Australian. “I want to start a wheat property here. I don’t think it will happen.”
For Mr Larsson, the Australian landscape he fell in love with was the vast, flat plains around Winton, in central-west Queensland. “The first thing that hit me was the dryness,” Mr Larsson said. “Seeing how far into the distance you could see, the fences seemed to go on forever. It just boggles the mind.”
Outback stations such as Adria rely on foreign labour to function. Mr Rayment employs two young Aboriginal ringers, a supremely talented station cook — whose specialty is pan-fried beef ribs from a freshly killed cow — and the two Europeans. “I’ve been employing people for over 30 years — nearly 10 years here — and they are both very hard workers,” he said of the two imports. “Daphne is great. And Richard? The heat never worries him, and if he could work 28 hours a day, he would.”
Thuppahi's Blog · This web site presents the interventions of MICHAEL ROBERTS in the public realm with reference to Sri Lankan political affairs. It will embrace the politics of cricket as well. ROBERTS was educated at St. Aloysius College in Galle and the universities of Peradeniya and Oxford. He taught History at Peradeniya University and Anthropology at Adelaide university. He is now retired and lives in Adelaide.