In the bush, Our brides wear boots, we bring our dogs and we kick up our heels in the shearing shed, But take away these homegrown touches and it seems that when it comes to marriage we’re more traditional – and starry-eyed – than we like to think.

Story By Emma Mulholland

"I wasn't expecting to feel anything different, but this morning when Daniel took my hand I could feel the rings between our fingers and it felt nice. It’s an indescribable feeling,” says Kate Marsden, 33, as she feeds her one-year-old daughter in the dusty beer garden at the Silverton Hotel. Her husband nurses a beer and smiles. Just yesterday, while a meat raffle hummed along in the clubhouse and a lone emu scratched around the car park, he’d stood on the green at the local golf course and stopped crying just long enough to promise his bride that he would love her, “like crazy each and every day until our very last”.
Then, beneath a string of fairy lights and paper lanterns, they danced their first dance as husband and wife. Local artists and miners mixed with guests from all over the country, and no one was about to retire early, least of all the bride and groom. The party kicked on at the Palace Hotel, where some guests looked about as worn out as the hand-stencilled wallpaper in the kitschy pub made famous by The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. But in the wee hours the newlyweds were still standing – the last ones, give or take a few members of the band, some locals and the plastic flamingos out the front of their bridal suite.
Kate and Daniel Farrugia love a good party and they’re not afraid to do things their way, as Kate proved two years ago when local photographer Robin Sellick was looking for a nude model to feature on the cover of his coffee-table book, Life & Times in the Republic of Broken Hill. It’s a beautiful photo – all very tasteful – but there’s something strange about seeing the same woman shrouded by a veil and given away. But then at that moment – the one in which the miner’s daughter slipped from her father’s hand to her husband’s – a part of Kate was revealed that the photo had disguised. Bare for all to see was a girl who loved her dad.
Kate had hated the idea of being given away. “But Mum said Dad would be so hurt if he didn’t get to do it and at the end of the day I thought, what’s more important, me being a feminist or my lovely dad’s feelings?” Like most couples, they cared more about the traditions than the things they symbolised – even if those traditions belong to the British. In the early days of the colony, Australians didn’t have much time for weddings at all. In fact, social historian Dr Hilary Golder says that most adults would have been living in stable unions, but in 1806 just 20 percent of women were married. Some objected for religious reasons, but for most it was just too hard when supplies were scarce and clergymen even more so.

This story excerpt is from Issue #89

Outback Magazine: June/July 2013