A Wednesday Wanderings by Fiona McArthur
The inspiration for The Homestead Girls, which came out with Penguin in July 2015, came from the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the magic of outback NSW, and Broken Hill. A lot of the detailed description, and Soretta’s love of the land, came from our stay at Mount Gipps Station in October 2014 (check out their Facebook page) and I really wanted to revisit that passion.
So two weeks ago we drove 3000 kms for a two-night sleepover (sheepover?) at a sheep station past Broken Hill – and people keep asking me was it worth it? Well, I’m still grinning
With the next book well under way, I was most impressed with my husband who prepared everything with 48 hrs notice, and made it happen while I was doing extra shifts. The longer time we'd planned away was bumped because of an unexpected trip to Parliament House in Sydney I didn't expect and was thrilled to attend.
So we set out the week before that. We drove the same way as last year, 8 hrs on the road and first night at Gilgandra, and then another 8hrs driving to Broken Hill town so we could shop for food before driving out to Mt Gipps the next morning. The station is only an hour out of town but you don’t want to leave when you get there.
So day 3 we arrived just after lunch and settled into the Jillaroo cottage, popped the wine in the fridge for later and just sat back and sucked in that clear cold air, listened to the sound of the birds, and the occasional baa of a mother sheep scolding her lamb. Bliss. I really noticed the drift down of tense shoulders as my husband cracked that first cold one on the veranda. He loves Mt Gipps, too.
To sunset, (see the picture at the top) and the deep appreciation of the land shown by the station owners, Kym and John. The sunset tour starts at 4:15, and we all pile into the four wheel drive and head through the first gate towards the far away ridge and it's all refreshing (what I remembered from last time) in front of my eyes. She points out the two new dams with a little water in them – actually drives us down into them – and unlike October last year, there is a green edge to the paddocks, the sheep and lambs are boisterous and plump, and the rocks are hiding green shoots. I've taken nearly a dozen shots of new plants. How can such a rock-strewn ground produce so much colour and variety?
Kym is always pointing out a new species, once, a type that is poisonous, that is breathed into the cow’s lungs, and I put that scene into the book this morning. Soretta made Charlie wash his hands after he touched it.
But back in the Landcruiser, the sunset was magnificent, and we even had a campfire.
The next morning we bounce up before sunrise to catch the dawn on top of the eastern ridge. Absolutely stunning, and another fab scene between Soretta and Charlie, here he comes clean of his guilty secret. Boy is he in trouble.
Then there was the trek out to the eagle’s nest up an amazing gully with rock pools and sheer walls and of course a fluffy little white egret head poking out - definitely another scene to come.
There was an in-depth conversation with Kym on the post drought conditions, where they stood with the new need for rain and just an inkling of the juggling involved running an 80,000 acre station outback, a few farewell drinkies at the Jillaroo cottage with our friends, and suddenly it was time to go to bed before our early start home in the morning.
A whirlwind visit but worth every single kilometre of it. Plus I haven’t stopped writing since I got back. Hope you enjoy the results. Warmest regards Fiona McArthur .
Another little trip to Broken Hill for inspiration - and we certainly breathed it in. From the Wednesday Wanderings blog on AustralianRuralRomance.com
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