Friday, 25 June 2010

Big Sky, Big Picture....

The Outback of Australia is a truly magical place about as far away from home as its possible to be - in more ways than one. The sky is huge, the roads are long and the pride of the sprinkling of people that survive here, wondrous. This is a tough land for tough people, that work with nature - not against it - in its toughest form.

On reflection in Scotland we have wet years and less wet years but here the extremes in climate are horrendous. They have only been out of an 8 year drought, for 12 months and today the rain is such that the road just travelled may have been washed away.

With Chris Ferguson as tour guide - a debt I don’t think I’ll ever be able to repay - I’ve visited five first generation farmers and two established farm businesses. Each story was different but there were significant common threads and shared principles between all those I spoke to: their focus; endurance of hardship and willingness to embrace sacrifice; their resilience; self reliance; their low tolerance for whinging; their determination; ambition, adaptability and, vitally, what seemed a compulsory sense of humour.

From Bourke, to Wanaaring, to Wilcannia, to Broken Hill the big sky was ever present. With the day off today at Broken Hill I went to see their main tourist attraction - a 100 metre long acrylic painting. Its called The Big Picture but thanks to seven families in seven days, I’ve already seen the real big picture - a sight I will never forget.

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