The Five Year Adventure: An Outback Survival Tale

outback road and sky

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll be familiar with my adult children, the Professor and Tough Cookie. I do have another  child though, the Strummer, who has so far managed to avoid having his pictures plastered over the Internet. His lucky streak ends with this blog post though. I think it’s only fair to his siblings that I share a  survival tale involving him. It’s a tale involving  a tail.

(A warning to professional photographers. If blurry, heat damaged images give you heart palpitations, do not proceed! Not only are these photos damaged but they are photographs of photographs making the quality even poorer.  )

boy-holding-goat-outback

While he’s been too busy with university, guitar playing and social groups to come on a hike with me lately, the Strummer certainly made up for it in his youth by being an extremely adventurous child. Although his lack of fear and curious nature may have kept me running ragged when he was a toddler, it’s serving him well now in many aspects of life. He managed to survive childhood but only just and on one memorable occasion almost became a drowning statistic.  However, first I need to share some background.

In 1994, I left Brisbane with my partner and two young sons to live in a remote location in north-west New South Wales for five years. Leaving city conveniences to live on a  70 000 acre sheep and cattle property with an unreliable water supply,  no shops, schools, mobile phones, TV reception and no garbage collection meant a few minor adjustments had to be made. The closest small town was 200km away on roads like this.

Outback red sandy road

outback road

However,  on arrival  I felt for the first time like I was truly coming home. The bright red soil contrasted beautifully against a vast blue sky and a horizon unbroken by human constructions was comforting. Instead of skyscrapers, motorways and a sea of housing estate roofs, spinifex, silver brigalow, box gums and mulga dotted this vast and predominantly flat landscape. Our water supply was mainly artesian water, pumped  from deep underground  by windmills. Rain water was a luxury.

Spinifex

aerial-shot-outback

red soil country

Mulga-outback

light through dust-outback

Sometimes I’m asked if my children  were bored out there without TV and Internet but to them it was an enormous playground with never-ending opportunities for discovery and exploration. It was also an opportunity for stitches, broken bones, snake bites and to add a few grey hairs to their mother. So what did they do out there?

They climbed trees.

boy-climbing-tree-outback

Strangled puppies.

boy-holding-puppies-outba

Picked flowers and accumulated burrs.

flowers-outback

Learned to float in a water trough.

Learning to float in a stock trough

Caught yabbies (crayfish).

yabbies-outback

Fell off horses.

horse-riding-outback

Cared for poddy (orphaned) lambs. No, that’s not beer.

Feeding poddy lambs

Twice weekly mail deliveries were a highlight.

The mailbox with my girl.

Redback spider infested, rusting truck corpses were fun to “drive.”

rusting-truck-outback

And baths in a “luxury” outdoor hot spa accompanied by dozens of clingy frogs under a million star night sky were always fun.

outback spa tub

They also ground their skin and fingernails off with this old farm relic.

old grindstone

Occasionally, I was able to cage them inside the classroom for a few hours of formal education.

outback-classroom

Here they wrote literary “masterpieces” such as this. I blame a diet of Roald Dahl books and their observations of  festering dead farm animals for this gem. At the time I wondered if my 5 year old would follow in the footsteps of  Stephen King.

hild-story-about-exploding-cat

They also tried whenever possible to enter the two unfenced dams near our tiny fibro cottage. Here is one of the death traps.

dam-outback

When he was two years old the Strummer was particularly addicted to the dirty brown depths.  But I  have to go back even further in time to when I was a child to give you the complete story.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the television series, Lassie, about a collie dog who rescued people. I had a love/hate relationship with that show. Once it was on I couldn’t drag myself away from the screen. I had to know what happened even though I’d always end up sobbing. The idea of having my own Lassie dog to protect me became a fantasy. Years later when my first born child  was 2 years old, I found a 6 year old retired breeder’s collie to keep him company. He was not a very sociable child and preferred to spend hours playing with insects and doing his own thing. I thought that Sophie would help him to enjoy company, albeit the furry non-talkative kind. She did not demand attention but shadowed him and acted as his protector.

collie-outback

Sophie was a dog that hated getting her feet wet. She even avoided walking on dew-covered grass. She never swam and looked miserable in rainy weather.

A few years later, when we moved to the outback, Sophie acted like a furry nanny to my three children – ever watchful, always accompanying them. If I went on walks and some distance developed between the boys and me as I pushed my daughter’s pram through the sandy terrain, Sophie would become distressed. She’d make crying noises and look back at me and at them until I gave her the signal to stay with the boys. The extent of her protective nature was revealed on the day my two year old son escaped from the house during my older son’s school radio lesson.

With doors locked and my younger son happily engrossed in activities on the floor, I focused on helping my older hyperactive five year old sit still and listen to his 40 minute crackly school radio contact. Suddenly, I noticed the little Strummer was missing. My first thought was the dam. My escape artist son had managed to open a locked door. News reports of child drownings raced through my mind as I bolted in panic  to the closest dam. I arrived to find him with his feet in the water and my collie dog standing in the dam, facing him. From a distance I could see him trying to go deeper but she kept blocking his way. She was also barking sharply in warning. Sophie had been taught not to bite or grab otherwise I imagine she would have grabbed his shirt with her teeth. I wonder if he’d kept going further or slipped whether her protective instinct would have overridden her training. Perhaps she would have dragged him out. I’m glad I didn’t have to find out.

sophie and the strummer

Sophie and the little Strummer.

91 thoughts on “The Five Year Adventure: An Outback Survival Tale

  1. Beautiful.. and may I say this, Jane? 70,000 acres? I’d have given my right arm and a couple of legs too, just to be there 🙂 That would have been quite a childhood. (My daughter does not have tv either.. but she is ok with it.. )
    Quite a childhood.. I loved it.. this post.. thank you for sharing this..

    • It was quite an experience out there. I had some of my best and worst memories. It truly was a wonderful place for children to grow up. One of the reasons my children are such avid readers is because when it was too hot outside, books and artwork kept them occupied. I haven’t been back since I first left and I think I want to remember it how it was. Thanks for your kind comments. I’m very glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  2. If it’s any retroactive solace to you, no one else had a mobile phone in 1994, either. In fact, in light of many people’s addiction to smartphones now, the lack of one had its good points, like leaving your children more time to play in nature.

    • Hi Steve,
      During our stay there people were starting to use some kind of satellite phone system due to vast distances but they looked like big bricks and didn’t really work properly anyway. We did have UHF radios which we needed to contact each other in parts of the property and for emergencies. Actually, I was quite slow in getting my own mobile phone. I still have the first one I bought – it’s about 7 years old and I can’t get apps on it. It’s also one of those snazzy flip open old style ones. 😉 Yes, I do think it’s a shame that our young kids are getting so addicted to their phones. I was a mean mum and didn’t buy my kids a mobile until they started university. 🙂

      • I was on the campus of the University of Texas a few days ago and confirmed what I already knew: the majority of students I saw walking around had their heads tilted down to see the screen of their smartphone, and many of those students cut themselves off even further from the outside world with earphones. Can you spell z-o-m-b-i-e?

        • Hahah…yes, I see them on campus here too. Makes me wonder if I am the only person who appreciates the university gardens. I wonder how many people actually look at the trees and the birds anymore. Progress…

  3. I wonder about the many these days who stare at their “smartphones” compulsively, or with boredom–do they have an active internal life? Can they be interested and find satisfaction in beautiful, simple real things, like trees, yabbies and truck corpses? Can they truly know the world? Do they know themselves?

    • I do wonder about the addiction to technology these days and how it is affecting the development of children and also the brain activity of adults. I use a computer screen often for work and I find it affects me negatively – in the physical and emotional sense. Getting back to nature is very therapeutic and helps me slow down and relax. Imagination and creativity benefit from time away from a screen. We need time to just think and feel, separate from the demands and instant gratification of technology. Thank you for reading and for your thoughts, Richard. It’s appreciated. 🙂

  4. This was a great post! Loved those outback colours in your “dodgy” photos (i kid!) and what a great life your kids had out there! Kids these days dont do enough outside, which is a real shame. I loved reading your family anecdotes, reminded me of my own childhood (which was suburban but we were still always outside). Cheers!

    • Haha…I’m the first to admit they are dodgy photos. 😀 Yeah, my kids were very lucky. It’s only recently my daughter commented that she realises she’s experienced so much that many of her friends haven’t. Often people go out there for authentic outback holidays, but we actually “lived” it for many years. After that place we lived in three other remote or rural areas in Queensland and they did all their schooling at home until university so it was a very different life to many. I think it’s more fun as a kid though. As a parent it could be quite demanding keeping them out of danger! I was glad they could experience elements of my own childhood though. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend. 🙂

      • I can imagine it would be stressful for you as a mum…. Im terrified of leaving my daughter in the backyard with the redbacks coming out! I can only imagine how many spiders and snakes you had out there! Have a good weekend too!

    • Thank you for those kind words. It’s certainly an amazing landscape out there. Unfortunately my old, damaged pictures don’t really show its true beauty. It doesn’t appeal to everyone, but I loved the colours and the space. Happy writing. 🙂

  5. Reading your memoir of the outback has taken me back to my youth. We didn’t live there near so long as you, nor did we have 70,000 acres (only 1/4 of an acre) but my days were filled with exploring the that 1/4 and I had access to the neighbors properties by scaling, or crawling under the wire fences. Memories of that time in the country taught me so much and is so full of wonderful memories for me.

    Sadly, your children’s adventures are of the very rare variety in this day and age. It is a pity.

    • Thanks, Lynda. I’m very pleased it brought back happy memories for you. I spent most of my youth in places that gave me a great deal of outdoor freedom. I think it helps to offset difficult experiences that some kids go through. And, yes, it has the ability to teach us so much as well. 1/4 acre is quite a large yard compared to the tiny spaces I see in many new developments today. I’m a big advocate for green spaces in city areas so people can still experience something of what many of us had in the past. I can’t imagine my own childhood without the outdoors. While it was challenging as a parent at times, living in remote areas was a great experience for my kids. It was lovely to read your thoughts again, Lynda. Thanks so much. Best wishes. 🙂

  6. What an interesting and adventurous life you’ve lived! Your humorous narrative is always what draws me in most, but your candid expression of life lived is also a refreshing factor in your stories. I love the old photos – and I don’t care if they aren’t the sharpest images! That’s part of the history of photography. You and your children grew up with tremendous adventure… I think you and many of us are some of the most fortunate people in the world to have experienced the simplicity of life lived, in the outdoors, enjoying nature . I think you must have been a wonderful Mum. 🙂

    • Thank you for your encouraging words, Lori. It can be hard for me to be objective about my past and whether it would bore others, especially when it comes to writing about one’s children! Thinking of the past brings up a lot of emotions sometimes which complicate what I share. In the end I can’t separate my experiences from what I’ve written and have no idea how it comes across to others. So thanks for your supportive words. It’s much appreciated, my friend.
      I have boxes and boxes of old photos and really should copy them onto some other storage device before the silverfish destroy them. I found some monster specimens while searching for these photos!
      I feel very thankful to have had so much outdoor freedom and pleased my own children were able to experience it as well. I’m not sure how great a mum I was. A lot of the early years were a blur! 😉 We do our best under the circumstances though. Have a wonderful week, Lori! 🙂

  7. What a tale! And what a dog. It reminds me of my beloved German shepherd, whom we entrusted with my two cousins whenever they wanted to go to the park and no one could come with them. The most dangerous thing for them was to catch a tick from a bush, but Tracey always did an admirable job.

    • Thanks very much. 🙂 I’m happy it brought back memories of your beloved German Shepherd. It can be tricky knowing how much freedom to give children to go by themselves, especially in urban areas where the dangers of other humans also come more into play. Having a protective dog, especially a German shepherd or collie breed, can give kids more freedom and parents, peace of mind. Sophie was quite protective of me as well as the children. She was a lovely companion. Thanks for reading and commenting. Great to hear from you. Best wishes. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Susan. I’m not sure I was very brave. I did my best but there were some difficult times that I didn’t cope so well with. I had beautiful night skies, glorious sunrises and sunsets and lots of fresh air to make up for the challenges though. Sophie did indeed turn out to be our own “Lassie” dog, just like the TV show. She was a great companion and help with the children. Thanks again for your kind words, Susan. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Tom. I have the same thoughts when I see adventurers in distant lands, climbing mountains, trekking through jungles, camping in the poles. The adventures I had out there stretched my comfort limits somewhat as a parent. One doesn’t like to share all the distressing times. 😉 I greatly appreciate the modern conveniences I have at the moment. I don’t think I’d define your life as dull though. You pack so much into each day and I am sure that being a teacher for so many years was an adventure in itself. Teaching a classroom is a challenge not many want to undertake, even though it can be very rewarding. Have a lovely Sunday, Tom. 🙂

  8. I love this post Jane! I can imagine how nerve-racking it was with three small children playing outdoors while you lived in the outback. I have tried to give both my daughters as much freedom as I had when I was a girl but neither of them are very adventurous and preferred reading and wandering about in the garden. I really like all your photos as they give such a clear idea of what it was like there. It must have been very difficult re-adjusting when you had to return to the city.

    • Thanks very much, Clare. I’m sure you’ve done a wonderful job with your daughters. My children varied in how adventurous they felt. As I wrote, my middle child was always on the go, getting into everything. My daughter preferred reading, painting and making things. My eldest was more of a scientist type rather than into the physical side of things. They each had their own personality. Reading and wandering around the garden sound like lovely activities to me. 🙂
      Yes, there wasn’t much time to take a break from child-rearing out there. Their father was often away or busy working so he wasn’t able to help much. We lived in three other places in remote or rural areas after that and I only came back to Brisbane when the children started Uni. The change wasn’t as bad as it could have been because we are lucky to live on a 1/2 acre block with trees and shrubs. Have a beautiful week! 🙂

    • Heheh…yes, it’s interesting how visitors are surprised by the distances we have between towns here. When my German relatives visited many years ago they commented on how much space we have here. Thanks very much for reading and commenting, Daniel. 🙂

    • Yes, Sophie was a huge help to me out there. With no other family or babysitters to help me with the children, she was a real treasure. I think perhaps I may have considered a GPS tracking device for the young Strummer. He was a little Houdini! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  9. Hi Jane,
    I loved the photo’s, looks like the country out near Wanaaring maybe? Thanks for sharing a little of your life out in the bush, I can well imagine it may have been the best of times and the worst, especially as a young mum with three little kids. You are a long way from support out there.
    Cheers Kevin

    • Hi Kevin,
      Yes, it does look a lot like Wanaaring, but we were closer to the Weilmoringle area. The country out there varied a lot. On the property we lived there was black soil (looked grey), red sandy and red rocky soil (hard red) and the land changed from spinifex to mulga to box gums to brigalow. My favourite was the red sandy soil.
      Yes, being a young mum with little support gave me a mixed experience – a little bit of heaven and hell perhaps? 🙂 Going back now would be quite different. I’m hesitant to though as I kind of want to keep it as a contained part of my life and move on. However, I am very keen to travel to other parts of the outback such as Larapinta. I miss the red country and the amazing night skies.
      Thanks for reading and commenting again, Kevin. I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs. I know from your blog you have a fondness for that kind of country too. I hope you had some great experiences in Scotland. 🙂

  10. Great story Jane. I enjoyed the pics of the ‘desert’ – well hardly a desert with all that lovely vegetation, but I think you know what I mean. Sophie sounds a bit like our 2 shelties – very smart, loving, and they hate the water too! Cheers, Paula

    • Thanks, Paula! I probably included the pics with the most vegetation in this post. Parts of the property were affected by salinity due to tree poisoning and removal many years ago and were more desert-like. That was from the era when property owners were required to remove a certain number of trees! They also have a woody “weed” problem out there which seemed to be partly caused from overgrazing. The plants such as turpentine are native but have taken over many areas that used to have a diverse range of flora. There were wonderful areas of brigalow, mulga and spinifex left though. I loved the sound of the wind through the spinifex and the box trees. It reminded me of the ocean.
      Shelties are lovely little dogs. I would have a collie again but my wrists get quite painful and I’m not sure I could keep up the level of grooming required. Sophie’s coat needed a lot of work to stay free of burrs and tangles. Have a lovely week, Paula. 🙂

  11. A great story and very well written! You really brought that period of time in your and your children’s lives to life for us. I also liked the photos, even if they were old and heat damaged. 😉

    • Thanks very much, Jerry, for the supportive comments. I’m pleased that you got something out of it. Personal stories are always a little hit and miss and it never feels like it’s possible to give the complete picture. I’m glad the old pictures didn’t give you palpitations. 😉 Looking forward to your next collection of beautiful pics. :-).

  12. Another great post Jane, and very entertaining! How wonderful it would have been for your children to experience all that. We do indeed live in a ‘lucky country’. Thanks for sharing a glimpse into your past, I loved reading it. 🙂 Leah

    • Thanks Leah. I’m glad you enjoyed my outback memories. You are right – it is just a glimpse of my life out there. So much happened and it is impossible to share it all really. After this place we lived in a few remote or rural places in Queensland. Coming back to Brisbane again was an interesting experience. While it was hard to adjust to some aspects, I was very thankful to have access to cheap good quality fresh food, medical attention, a reliable water supply and so many other things we take for granted in the city. Thanks for your supportive comments. 🙂

  13. Jane, Your one amazing woman, and an outstanding survivor of the outback. Thanks for sharing some of your very interesting history. Your love of our beautiful country seems to have been born in them during this time out there.

    • I wouldn’t call myself amazing but thank you for those kind words. 🙂 I had it very easy compared to some women out there. There was much to love as well as challenges to deal with. The landscape was very beautiful and the kids have some great memories of the place. It was definitely a great learning experience for us all. Thank you and have a lovely week! 🙂

    • Thanks, John. I’ve been trying to get him on a walk so I can introduce him. I felt he was left out of the blog. He’s been so busy though so I thought I’d write about his childhood adventures instead. Now I feel like I have given them all some attention. I didn’t want to leave him out. He’s a great son and lovely person and I’m so relieved he survived his childhood! Have a great week too, John. 🙂

  14. Wow, what a story! Your kids are lucky to have had such incredible childhood experiences and such a loyal protector. I often think of moving somewhere away from the city where I can wake up to the sound of birds, not the noisy highway, and enjoy the view of the forest from my window rather than a condo tower. But I also recognize that that kind of lifestyle comes with major challenges. Plus my husband is not on the same page just yet, but I am not losing hope 🙂
    Also I saw an acknowledgement of country you posted on your blog and I hope it’s ok that I borrowed the idea from you. It has been bothering me for a while that the parks we love so much quite often stand on the land that has never been officially ceded or that we often refer to Canadian Wilderness as if it had never been populated up until settlers came. Then I saw an acknowledgement on your page and thought that would be a great place to start and explore further how I can be respectful towards the land and its traditional stewards.

    • Thanks very much, Oleksandra! You may live in the city but you still go on fantastic camping/hiking trips. I really enjoy following your outdoor escapes on your blog plus your photos are beautiful. I’m back in Brisbane now because my three kids are all at uni. Once they are finished and off working, I will probably move but still be close to medical and other facilities. You are right, there are pros and cons to living away from the city. I hope you do get a chance to live somewhere that gives you a better balance. It can be difficult when a partner doesn’t share the same desires, but it sounds like you are working on him…heheh. Good luck with that! In the meantime, you are certainly giving your family some great outdoor experiences anyway.
      Of course you can use the acknowledgement of country. It doesn’t belong to me. It is often used here to recognise the traditional owners when making a speech. I actually saw it on other people’s blogs which I thought was a great idea, since I am walking on their lands. Thanks very much for reading and sharing your thoughts. Have a lovely week! 🙂

  15. Great story and fabulous photos Jane! Sounds like your kids had a fantastic childhood. I grew up in the mallee in South Australia and one of our favourite activities was making cubbies out of sticks covered in spinifex grass. We would play happily in them the day we made them but were always a bit afraid to come back the next day, knowing all the critters that favoured those kinds of spaces! A dread to think of all the habitat we destroyed! Thanks again for sharing.

    • Thanks very much. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, even the dodgy photos. 🙂 Sounds like you also had a fun childhood in the Mallee! The kids and I had a great time in the spinifex. Not sure if it was the same where you lived but where we were the centre of large old spinifex was empty -flattened. They made great hiding places because you were surrounded by the outer stalks of the clump. The centre of the spinifex had a different temperature as well. We often found kangaroo droppings there where they sheltered from the fierce winds that roared across the flat landscape – sometimes hot, sometimes cold gusts. We’d have little picnics in the centre of the clump. I doubt your childhood activities did much substantial damage. It’s more what the adults do on a grand scale that causes long term issues I reckon. 🙂
      Most years the owners would burn the spinifex to create new growth and also prevent really bad fires. Then we’d see lots of birds of prey circling, waiting for critters to come out. Ahhh…the memories. I may have to write another post about it one day. I’d love to read more about your experiences as well. Have a great week. 🙂

  16. What a wonderful childhood! (Even with all the dangers). And that was truly one amazing dog. My sister lived in deep west Qld for half a few years when her children were small, and they had a dam that was perfect for drowning in as well. Their dogs were completely useless, pound rescue dogs, however, who tended to welcome intruders rather than keep them away, and probably would have dragged the kids into the dam for a swim…

    • Thanks very much, Oanh. Yes, it was a fantastic experience for the kids. They had a great deal of freedom out there. Sophie was a wonderful dog. We also had a red kelpie but he was not at protective of the children and would have licked anyone to death. He spent his days rounding up/eyeing off dragonflies, willy-wagtails, chooks, goats and sheep. Totally hyperactive! I also lived in the “deep west” of Queensland …Longreach and other places. It’s a very different lifestyle out there that’s for sure! 🙂

  17. What can I say but “ditto” all the previous compliments!

    P.S. Love that “mailbox” – an imaginative (not to say mischievous) kid could hide in there and scare the bejesus out of the postal delivery person! 🙂

    • Thanks very much for the “ditto” comments. Much appreciated. 😀
      Haha…yeah, it was a large mailbox compared to typical suburban letterboxes. Some people had mailboxes the size of fridges (and even used old fridges) as the mail-courier delivered groceries and all sorts of bits and pieces that people needed from town. Large items like tyres got delivered to the house itself which was a couple of kilometres from the main road. 🙂

    • Thanks very much! Yeah, I got my wish to have my own Lassie dog and so did my children. She was a wonderful companion and protector. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 😀

  18. What a great post and well-written history! I spent plenty of my childhood away from it all – our nearest village was only a few miles away, but we lived in a temperate rainforest with, I imagine, similar amenities to your place (i.e. almost none). Completely off-grid and days spent exploring wide expanses of wild forest. Good times. And yes, lots of reading. 😉

    • Thanks very much, PK. I’m so glad you also had a wonderful time as a child exploring the forests…and reading! Ah, the number of books we read out there was amazing really. While it was not easy to get the children to sit and do many formal lessons, I believe their reading for pleasure and adventurous play made up for it. They learnt a great deal “accidentally.” I’m really glad my children got to experience a lot of freedom in the outdoors like I did. Actually, they had more freedom than I did when I think about it. Great to hear from you. Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

    • Thanks, Brittany! I have boxes of these kind of shots from the old days. I may revisit other locations in future posts when I haven’t got any other material to post. We had more adventures back then we do now. 🙂

    • Thanks, Rob. They had a few challenges to face but overall they had a lot more freedom than many children. When they were older and we lived in other locations they helped out with physical farm work. In 40+C temps it was “interesting.” Heheh. I hope they have predominantly happy memories though! 🙂

  19. Such a heart warming story Jane! What an awesome companion Sophie must have been.
    And I have to say – what lucky kids you have! That sounds like an awesome childhood.

    • Thanks very much, Inger. Yes, Sophie was a wonderful protector and companion and my kids were certainly lucky to have so much freedom. We have some wonderful memories from our time out there. Thanks for reading. Great to hear from you again. 🙂

  20. Thanks for sharing this lovely story about life on the land with your children and Sophie. Such a beautiful read. So glad your boy was ok, I am super vigilant with Harry around water. Maybe I need a Sophie!

    • Thanks very much, Amanda. Actually, I should have dedicated this post to you as I know you’ve been going through the child supervision challenge with Harry these last few years! Water, fire and cliff edges are a challenge with young adventurous souls. You’ll be happy (?) to know that Tim still gives me grey hairs with his activities though the kind have changed. 😉 Now he’s a public transport guru and takes trains and buses all over the city but at dodgy times of night and sometimes in dodgy locations. Yes, a Sophie dog would be great, Amanda! It made my life a bit easier. She was pretty special though. She was a retired breeding dog, was very well trained already and had been used to kids. I was very lucky to get her. A puppy would just have been more work! 🙂

  21. What a wonderful post Jane! When my children were toddlers, we had a shepherd-mix dog who felt it was her job to keep the kids safe. She used to herd them down our long, wooded driveway to the mailbox and back. Dogs are just amazing. And your children are very fortunate to have had those years in the outback.

    • Thank you very much! Sounds like your dog was similar to my Sophie. The right dog can be a fantastic companion and guardian for a child. My youngest is an introvert like me who preferred to play by himself, so Sophie’s company was less draining for him. I always had some sort of pet when I was young. I found them much easier to deal with than humans at times. Heheh. We also had a kelpie (an Australia sheep dog breed) that spent all day herding chooks, children and anything that moved really! Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  22. finally got time to actually comment properly – this post made me laugh so much! I love the descriptions of the natural wild and of all the normal things your children got up too. the colours of the earth and sky are incredible…

    • Thank you very much, Freya. 🙂 I’m so very glad the post made you laugh! There was a lot of humour to be found out there which made up for the personal challenge aspect. I could have included a lot more but wasn’t sure if people would find it of interest. Perhaps I will do another post some time about life out there. Yes, the colours are so rich and vibrant. One day I may return. Have a beautiful week. 🙂

  23. Hi Jane, Any doubts you had about this post being of interest to a wider audience would have been well and truly dispelled by the number of comments people have made.
    This is an interesting story well told. I hope the Strummer has taken this story of his childhood in his stride.

    • Thanks, Margaret! People have been very kind with comments. I’m very glad you found it interesting as well.
      The Strummer was quite amused by my blog post. I’d already told him that if I didn’t have a walk to write up with him in it, I would have to use a story from the past. I felt like he’d been left out of the blog up until this point. As long as I didn’t put any recent photographs, he was happy. I did try to persuade him to let me share his guitar playing but with no success…this time anyway! Have a lovely weekend. 🙂

  24. Lassie to the rescue comes true – I enjoyed this story very much Jane. It’s really well told.
    Along the way, I enjoyed the insight into how it was for you living ‘out back’.
    Thanks!

    • Thanks for the encouraging words, Gail! I’m happy you enjoyed the story of Sophie to the rescue. 🙂 She was a lovely companion. It was an interesting and at times challenging life out there and also in the other remote locations we moved to.afterwards. I may share some more stories again when I have nothing else in reserve. Happy pedalling! 🙂

  25. A wonderful story Jane, with a perfect ending.

    And as for the photos, well, I think they are fantastic. Photos such as these are in a world beyond judgement and comparison, as they are so full of meaning and memory – more so with the passing of time and the constant reminders of life’s fragility. The last photo is just sublime, what an incredible thing it is to be able to capture such a fleeting moment, and then to be able to reflect on it as time passes and your children grow – and then to be able to share it with others around the planet as part of such a well-crafted narrative! Photography (and story-telling) at its best. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    I love dogs, and that Sophie was a beautiful dog.

    Cheers

    • Thank you very much for your supportive comments, Rob. It’s kind of you to take the time to give me detailed feedback. That’s the really nice thing about blogging. Sometimes I can have a difficult day and then I come home and read lovely words from my blogging friends and it cheers me up. You are right about photographs of children being great reminders of special moments. There is so much I have forgotten. As time goes by things become a bit of a blur. Photographs can take us back in time. I have boxes and boxes of decaying photographs which I really must sort out, scan and put onto the computer for safe-keeping.
      I appreciate your encouraging words about my writing as I often struggle to find the words for my posts.
      Sophie was indeed a beautiful dog, in appearance and temperament. She was much missed. Have a wonderful week, Rob. I hope you are well. I keep checking your blog for new posts, but assume family and work are keeping you very busy. Best wishes. 🙂

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