August, 31 2012
Port Hedland
John Elliott
Photography

Betty

 

I reside at Indee Station, but I also have a house in Dongara which is a fishing village just south of Geraldton. My late husband retired in 1986, we had moved up here to give some friends a hand on De Grey Station. We helped get the station going and lived here for three years, over that time we would help with the Muster every year. Then my husband and I were in a terrible accident. My husband was killed and I was very badly injured, 46 per cent of my body was badly burnt. I was by myself for four years after that and being a workaholic I found life pretty boring, until Colin invited me to open this tourist business with him at Indee Station in Port Hedland. I already knew Colin and he knew my husband. He had lost his wife years before, so we came up here and started the tourist business, seven years later we got married, sort of a Pilbara romance.

Colin has three children and four step children, and I have two. We wake up at 4am in the morning. We have some drillers that live in a camp here, they work three weeks on and one off, so they have to have breakfast and their lunches packed every morning. At the new camp, Indee Village, they can cook their own meals, which are making life easier for me. After breakfast there are always chores, such as looking after the animals, gardening and cleaning. I have two women to help with these duties. When tourists stay here, the girls help with the maintenance of their rooms.

The drillers are digging for lithium which was found in the neighbouring property and there is another mob, who hope to start a gold mine on this property. It’s more to search for minerals because of the slump in Iron Ore prices. The mining resources don’t really affect the station at the moment; however you cannot get any money for cattle, so you need a second income, that’s why we look after drillers.

Indee is a cattle station with over 3,000 cattle and the station is 401,000 acres, which is not that big compared to De Grey, which covers 1 million acres. Colin has been here for 50 years, so he already knew a few people when I moved up and a lot of our friends come here to visit, which is lovely but we hardly ever go out to other places. Because of this I travel a lot; I try to go away once a year and went to Europe this year with my niece from Marble Bar for a month. Next year I will go to Alaska with a friend before my health deteriorates. I have always been interested in art, I used to paint when I was younger and my father was a great artist and a clever man who always spoke of art in the house and encouraged his eight children to draw and express ourselves. When I married my first husband we lived in remote places so I created a hobby in art, but sadly I do not paint anymore. I keep my love of art alive by travelling and reading books. In Dongara my husband and I always went to the theatre, which I loved and that is one of the things I miss most about living in a remote area. Isolation is a challenge, I miss being in developed areas where you can drop everything and go out, but the peace and quiet is something that keeps me here.

Indee Station has catered to tourists for 14 years with people coming for one night but they end up staying for one month. We usually have artists or some sort of craft person, bird watchers and we also have a lot of people on low incomes, such as pensioners or elderly people who come here. All people who want to stay must do something for the accommodation, for example, swap labour. We believe if you’re kind to someone, they will be kind to you. Happy hour is at 5.30pm where tourists are invited into the station owner’s home, it’s wonderful to open our home to others and it’s our social life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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