Love, land and money. Each by itself does not make for happiness, but taken together they stir passions through lives and across generations in the heartland of Australia, where emotions are entwined with the land and its industry. Just as a drought-shrivelled earth flourishes when the water arrives, the human spirit is enriched by love.

Story By Jane Milburn

It is a challenge asking country people to talk about their relationships. Doubly so when the big dry is biting into much of the land, and their emotional and physical energy is focused on that. Country people generally don’t have much time for the airy-fairy pondering of feelings and emotions. They’re busy dealing with big issues such as droughts, pests and isolation. Their effort is directed towards maintaining stock, water and feed supplies, dealing with the paperwork burden of new laws and taxes, working out ways to educate their children, and seeking new and more profitable marketing options.
“Farmers tend to be less focused on the self, and the emotions, because there is always something that needs attention around the farm,” says fourth-generation woolgrower Andrew Burgess, of “Ruby Hills” at Walcha on the New England Tablelands of New South Wales. “It’s easy to get absorbed in the farm work, and it takes strong mental discipline to extract yourself from that work and focus on family matters.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #50

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2007