It was the same old day for 15-year old Bryce Amos Silverton, Bas to his family and friends. Awake at dawn this early summer day. If it were any other season, Bas would have beaten the sun up. Morning was the time to feed the chooks, the horses and the goats, milk the cows and all before breakfast. He had his customary scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato and orange juice.
Once breakfast was consumed, the dishes rinsed and left in a neat pile on the sink, he was off to school. School for Bas started at 7am and was held in a small cottage, semi-attached to the stone homestead by a veranda, the cottage consisted of a main classroom, a bathroom and a small library.
The school currently has three students, Bas - only son (adopted soon after birth) of station owner Mike and Sue Silverton, plus Justin aged 9, Mary aged 11 - children of the senior station hand Barrett Alson and wife Sarah. The students are remote students-home schooled, with Sarah acting as the school supervisor for the three students. The Alson family lived in a three-bedroom cottage further down the homestead compound.
The whole compound consisted of the main homestead, school cottage, the cook house with dining room, all connected by a veranda to the homestead. The station’s main store and laundry are located just behind the cook house. Fifty metres away is the stations office in its own building. Between the homestead and the office is a 14-metre long swimming pool, a tennis court, two garden gazebos, all of which are surrounded by lush green lawns, and with shady palm trees.
Just beyond the office and gardens are the family garages, space for the family car - a Toyota Landcruiser Wagon, the boss's vehicle - a Land Rover ute, a runabout vehicle for the family, and an old Suzuki ute. The building also consisted of a large storage room and a maintenance workshop.
The main driveway into the station passes by the main homestead and outer buildings, before bending left and heading towards the other buildings a further 100 metres away. Opposite the main buildings are three rows of eucalyptus trees that provide afternoon shade and act as a wind break plus an extra bushfire barrier. The next set buildings consist of the main station=s work buildings.
The machinery shed for the station vehicles, the maintenance shed. The station power shed - housing the solar and wind power equipment. This is the main source of power for the station, with the two large diesel generators for backup. The underground fuel tanks and bowsers are on the end.
Opposite them on the other side of the driveway behind the triple row of trees, are the horse stables, with four sets of two stalls, with a passageway between each that leads to the tack rooms and feed stores. Behind the stables are three narrow but paddocks for the horses. At the far side of the stables there is an outdoor arena for training and other purposes.
Alongside that, is a hay and feed storage shed, followed by smaller stables with paddock, for the two dairy cows and three goats. Nearby is a very large poultry yard, housing twenty chooks, three ducks, 9 guinea fowl and two turkeys. The three rows of trees continue past the main station buildings with the road bending once again, this time to the right for a further 100 metres, where the last set of station compound buildings are located.
These are the singles living quarters, each building consists of 4 bedrooms rooms, each with their own bathroom. Every bedroom has two single beds, two wardrobes with a desk and chair. Between the rooms, a large open lounge with a kitchenette at one end. These are used to accommodate the mustering teams so remain empty most of the year. A big covered patio links the two buildings together to provide a sheltered social and recreation area.
Next door is a large shed with only the lower 1/3rd having walls all the way around, to allow plenty of ventilation during the hot summer months. Inside the shed is a 7-metre long swimming pool, surrounded by artificial grass. A bar with four stools, 2 large fridges and an old music box are at one end, plus 3 small round café tables with three chairs at each along one side.
This is the main social area for the station staff. Consisting mostly of Barrett, the senior station hand, Toby, the 48-yo station diesel mechanic and Jake, the 26-yo indigenous station hand. Jake goes walkabout for 6 weeks just before mustering, to catch up with his family but always returns just as mustering is finishing. Toby and Jake started working on the station in the same year, over 8 years ago. Jake caught a ride with Toby to search for work.
After Toby was employed as the new mechanic, Jake hired on as a station hand.
After working and living together, they have become great mates, sharing a three-bedroom cottage next to the recreation shed. Beside the shed, there is a four-bay garage shed for any staff vehicles. Finally, there are two more three-bedroom cottages, the last being the home of the Alson family. Plenty of green lawn and palm trees for additional shade, surround all the staff cottages and the garage.
The station itself was fairly remote, it 90 kilometres to the south to the nearest civilisation that being a roadhouse on the main highway. Over 370 kilometres by road to the nearest town, but the nearest city was 640 kilometres away. The trans railway ran north of the station, by only 70 kilometres. However, there are two neighbouring stations, though both stations are very run down and currently in caretaker mode, till the owners decide what to do.
School came easy for Bas and he was well advanced in his regular school work. So much so, that he was doing additional studies online through the nearest Technical and Further Education (TAFE) College. He was in his second year of studying agricultural business and Management, of a three-year diploma course. Starting at 7am, he did all his assignments first, before viewing two online lectures. This left him with about 30 minutes to do personal research before ending just in time for the 12:30 lunch.
Bas has known that he was adopted, soon after birth, as long as he can remember. He was told that his parents were nearly married, but not able to financially bring up a child, due to them both losing their jobs due to the recession, just 3 months before he was born. All he knew, was that his father was a 4th generation Australian, while his mother was from Canada. He had no idea what their names where.
Until recently he hadn’t really thought about his birth parents. It was only when the family travelled to the local annual agricultural show, 320 kilometres away, for the first time, that he was reminded that he was adopted. That is where he met up with his spoilt rotten 10-year old cousin, Christopher, and his uncle Matthew and his wife Julia. Mike introduced the couple who walking up to Bas.
Bas stepped forward to shake their hands, noticing a young boy standing slightly behind his parents. Julia just ignored the gesture. “I’d liked to introduce my son, Christopher”, Matthew said as he pulled the boy over, “Son, this is your cousin Bas” Mathew added. “I can see why your real parents didn’t want you”, Christopher sneered at Bas.
Bas just stared at the boy, wondering how to react. At least his father, Matthew, reprimanded him with a smack at the back of the head, “Mind your manners” Mathew snapped at his son.
Changing the subject, Mike asked “Hey, Matthew, how long are you and the family staying at the station?”, “Just for 4 days”, Matthew replied, “Four days with hired help pretending to be family” Christopher muttered just loud enough for Bas hear.
Bas competed in the rodeo events of the show since he was 12, but this year he didn’t do as well as he usually does. He was a bit shaken up because his cousin’s outburst at the start of the day. He remained in a foul mood during the 45-minute flight in his dad’s private 8 passenger Cessna plane. Mostly because his cousin kept up with insults the whole time, being careful that only Bas heard.
As soon as they arrived home, Bas grabbed his swag and a duffle bag of clean clothes, and announced “I am out of here. If you need me, I will be down at singles quarters for a few days”.
Mike had noticed that Christopher's actions has put Bas in a bad mood and probably caused the poor performance at this year’s rodeo, so he said nothing and let him go. He knew that Bas was a very independent young man, capable of looking after himself. Spending a few years helping with mustering and often camping out under the stars.
As Bas approached the garage he changed his mind, and threw his gear into the runabout. Taking off down to an artesian spring located near the dry riverbed, to his favourite spot. Over the past two years, Bas has dug out the spring, lined the walls with rocks to create a wonderful spring pool.
He had also constructed a raised covered balcony along one side of the pool, with half walls around three sides and a railing and a gate on the pool side. Made for a great picnic site in summer, plus a great camping site most year-round, so as it provides protection from snakes and other creatures due to it being raised off the ground, and part protection from the unpredictable weather conditions.
Janurary 2016 Preston Wigglesworth, All Rights are Reserved