Travelling Vets - 8. TV Chapter 8
After about ten minutes of further discussion, we ended the call, and we sat in silence in the dining room for a while to absorb everything that was said during the call. “Your family sounds nice,” Julia said to me breaking the silence, “yes, they are all great, and that is not all of them, we also have Uncle Owen, who is Mum’s brother, who is in partnership with Mum with running several Cattle stations in the western Northern Territory and the northeastern Kimberly region in Western Australia.
He is now separated from his wife and is on Inverway Station on the Buchanan Highway, and he has four children that live with him, Samuel, Alexandria, Justin, and Quincy, who are aged 18 down to 14 years old,” I replied. “Where will we be living and going to school?” Ryley asked me, and at first, I was not exactly sure about that.
“Well, Marcus and I live in a two-bedroom apartment behind our business, which is right next to the airport, but we may have to rethink that, with three extra people to accommodate. I will have a chat with my Mum and my other business partner Auggie and see what ideas we can come up with on that,” I replied.
“There is always the compound!” Marcus suggested, and I thought about this for a moment, “Yes, but it is remote, and I am not sure if they could cope with the heat and the flies as well as all the other hazardous things in the area,” I replied, and Marcus quietly nodded his head in understanding.
“How many acres of Cattle Station farm does your family own?” Julia asked me, and I heard Marcus chuckling, and I smiled. “A little over 4.78 million acres, spread out over seven stations in total,” I replied, “Did you say 4.78 million? Is that even possible to own that much land?” Julia asked sounding very shocked.
“Well, in Australia, all land in the north is classed as pastoral land, which is managed by each state government, and leases are purchased by pastoralist farmers who can run cattle, sheep or other animals, and the large space is often needed to have animals survive in the harsh conditions,” I responded. “That land area is only what his family owns, Jex and I own two separate cattle stations, that total 858 thousand acre, these been Limestone Station and Diggers Rest Station, plus a former WW2 Airbase,” Marcus added.
“Wow, that is incredible,” Julia responded. “The old airbase is where the compound is located, which Marcus was referring to, which is our former family home after we sold up the neighbouring cattle station, and for a while, we had a little tourism venture with the airbase semi-restored to what it used to look like when it was an active airbase during the war,” I explained.
“It is a resort in the desert, apart from not having a tennis court or a swimming pool. A huge family home tucked away on the side of a small hill hidden by shady trees from the actual airbase buildings a few kilometres away,” Marcus said. “Yeah, well it is very spacious and located in a great spot, but it is also extremely remote, as it is 58 kilometres from the nearest small town of Marble Bar and 235 kilometres from the nearest major town of Port Hedland. It is where I grew up, so I am used to the very hot and harsh conditions out there,” I added.
“What are your two cattle stations like, and are they far from each other?” Ryley asked me, “Well Limestone Station is just 14 kilometres east of the town of Marble Bar, which is recognised as the hottest town in Western Australia, because of the extreme temperatures we get there in the summer, and it is 50 kilometres north of the Airbase and the compound.
Diggers Rest is 1,450 kilometres to the northeast and is located 38 kilometres southwest of the town of Wyndham and 125 kilometres west of the town of Kununurra, which is where we live and is the base for our business, and those distances are by road, it is a lot shorter when we fly,” I explained.
The following day, during my short lunch break, I made my second call home to Mum, who with my siblings, is now living at Newry Station, just inside the Northern Territory, where my brother Rhodes now works at the Livestock Quarantine Station Manager, and Mary works as his assistant, “Hello dear, what have you calling me again two days in a row?” Mum said when she answered the call.
“I need you to do something for me please… with a sudden increase in the size of the family, I need to find a place for all of us to live, and that includes Julia,” I said to my mother, and we chatted about this matter for a few minutes, before ending the call, with Mum agreeing to let me know what options she can find.
As we neared the end of another week and Marcus and I are preparing for our weekly trip north to see Julia and the boys, I checked for any late emails and found one sent from Mum, which I opened up and found a link to a property for sale on the outskirts of Kununurra, 5.5 kilometres upstream from Ivanhoe Crossing, 7 kilometres from the centre of town and 10 kilometres from the business.
Situated right on the Ord River on 6 acres on two blocks of land, the property has the original 3x1 house, plus a 1-bedroom B & B Cabin, sheds, water tanks, and a newer 4x2 house, plus a mango orchard, a tennis court with lights and two swimming pools. After both of us had viewed the information, I picked up my mobile and dialled a number, forgetting what time it is at home.
“You do know that it is after 4 am here?” Mum said on answering the call, “Oops, well I do now, sorry Mum but this is important. Can you put in an offer on that 6-acre property on River Farm Road please, it is perfect for what we need,” I replied. “I thought you might son, so I have already done that, and the offer was accepted this yesterday afternoon my time, just a few hours after I sent you the info,” Mum informed me, and I chuckled at this.
“Thanks, Mum, you are the best. Marcus and I are packing to head up to see Julia and the boys, we will tell them the good news when we arrive. I am thinking that the original house would be ok for us and the boys and the B & B nearby would be perfect for Julia. Not sure what to do with the extra house right now, but I am sure we will come up with an answer when we get home,” I said to Mum.
After an uneventful drive north, we arrived at our usual accommodation in Birkenhead, a B & B guest house located just 1.5 kilometres from Julia’s home, where the boys will remain living while finishing their current term at School, which ends just a week after we finish our three months of work at the Zoo. In the meantime, we were assisting Julia with sorting and packing everything in her home, selling what she does not want to keep and putting into a storage shipping container what she wants to keep, which will be shipped to Western Australia, as well as arranging passports for the boys and started the process for immigration to Australia.
At dinner time, we told Julia and the boys about the family buying a new home for all of us to live in, explaining that it was a large property on the edge of town, with Julia having her place to live, which is very close to the main house, where she can have dinner with us every evening.
We explained about the few dangers that we have in the region that we live in, including snakes, scorpions, and crocodiles, since the property is right next to the Ord River, but I ensured them that a Croc proof fence has been built around the property to keep them out. I explained that the property also has a large fruit orchard, as well as a swimming pool and tennis court, with views of the river, and surrounded by a large area of lawn.
When our final week of work at the Zoo arrives, we were called to Dr Langford’s office for a meeting, where we were asked to extend our stay for another four weeks, and I reminded the Director that we now had the responsibility of two boys to look after and that unfortunately, we would be ending our time with the Zoo on time, as expected as we need to return to Australia.
After finishing work at the Zoo, we had two days before we boarded our 21-hour long flight directly to Perth, with Julia and the boys carrying just what they need, and I had booked us business class seats so that we would be reasonably rested, although Marcus and I spent a good amount of time discussing our futures and the future of our practice.
While waiting four hours for our connecting flight to Kununurra, we were on the telephone with Auggie, and during that time we had more in-depth discussions about what Marcus and I had discussed, and by the time we were about to board our last flight, some major decisions had been made.
Our two practices in the East Pilbara region, that been Marble Bar and Newman, would put on the market, and Marcus and I would also be putting Limestone Station on the market, as we wanted to just be based in the Kimberly district.
Similar discussions had been happening between Mum, Uncle Owen, and myself, about the family cattle station business. Like with the Vet Practice, we had decided that it was getting too big to handle, so we would be keeping just a handful of stations and selling the rest.
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