Picture Perfect Pincally

Words Jacqui Greig / Photos Zanna Gale

Outback living is never short of hardships, but that doesn’t mean design and style have to be compromised – as evidenced by the charming oasis Zanna Gale has created with her traditional station homestead West and beyond.

Situated near Milparinka (north of Broken Hill), Pincally Station is home to Zanna and Matt Gale, and their three daughters Bella, 15, Lucy, 12, and Millie, 11. The 162,000-acre property runs Senepol/Santa Gertrudis cross beef cattle, self-replacing multi purpose merino sheep, and goats. When Zanna arrived at the property as a new bride 21 years ago, the homestead – built in the early 1900s – was essentially in its original condition, bar some additions in the 1950s.

“The older end and the newer end are joined by the traditional large breezeway that many people had in those days,” explains Zanna. “The northern and southern sides of the breezeway were lined with frosted louvres that could then be opened to let the breeze flow through… although I found that more dust came in than breeze!”

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The red dust that is so iconic for rural Australia is also one of Zanna’s biggest challenges. That, and the fact the homestead had no insulation – making it hot in Summer and cold in Winter. But it is the property’s isolation that posed one of the biggest problems when it came to renovations.

With Zanna’s deft touch and design nous, the homestead has undergone major structural changes over the years, including replaced windows, the addition of a swimming pool, a renovated bathroom, roof replacement and the addition of insulation and the demolition of almost a quarter of the house to be rebuilt into a much larger kitchen/living, pantry and outdoor entertaining area.

“When renovating we did everything in blocks,” says Zanna. “I knew the kitchen was going to be a major renovation and extremely hard to find a builder and cabinet maker that would be interested in going bush for as long as it would take to get the job done. That has always been a major hurdle for families out here… finding the right builder that wants to leave town and come and build in the outback without town conveniences!”

Pincally Homestead

Zanna found her dream team with Mildura-based Ideal Fabrications, owned by husband and wife team Aaron and Kelly, who then recommended builder Andrew Welsh, whose catch phrase of “There is always a way Zanna” firmly lodged him in Zanna’s affections. “After numerous trips to Mildura, which is six hours away, to sit with Kelly and work on our designs for the kitchen we eventually came up with the perfect kitchen/pantry area that included a gorgeous study nook and boot room,” says Zanna.

Although studying with the International School of Colour and Design, this was a learning curve for Zanna, who had never tackled a project this large or involved. Her thoughtful design choices resulted in a large kitchen/living area and a three-metre wide spotted gum deck that runs along the length of the kitchen with a covered entertaining area.

Boasting plenty of natural light, clean lines and copious space, the kitchen is now one of Zanna’s favourite rooms in the home and easily accommodates the four-meter island bench and the statement dining table.

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“My husband bought the table years ago at a mine auction in Broken Hill for $100. Since then it had been used in his workshop, but I’d always had my eye on it. Basically I planned the kitchen around this table; it has so much character.”

Character is something Zanna values when it comes to interior design. “I had always wanted an old fan from a windmill on a wall, but little did I realise that our fans were far too big, stretching from the floor to the ceiling height or taller! Eventually Matt found an old windmill fan on a farm in SA where we had sheep on agistment, and it now sits above a couch. I love the colour and patina of the blades on the fan – it gives a rustic appeal to the whole space.”

Zanna has a sophisticated take on the typical country aesthetic, which is evident throughout her home. Rustic elements such as timber furniture and ceramic vases filled with wildflowers, work well within the parameters of the renovation’s modern finishes.

Zanna is drawn to earthy textures, especially handmade and nature fibres. Her colour scheme works mostly with shades of grey; “Every now and then I feel like I need to add more colour… but as soon as I try it I go back to neutrals, I feel like it creates a calming atmosphere.” The style of the home is perfectly imperfect; nothing appears overly polished or unduly precious and it’s obvious comfort for the family is paramount.

The homestead’s garden has also been a work in progress that has evolved over the years. With just a patch of lawn to start with, Zanna and her mother and a friend added garden beds and developed a cottage garden look with roses and perennials. Although the garden was growing beautifully, it was also a lot of work – especially with the addition of children to daily life and the realities of the harsh outback climate.

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“I eventually started to change the garden by planting tougher plants such as succulents, and more trees for shade – which I should have done from the very beginning,” says Zanna.

“A few years ago we were in Tibooburra for a gymkhana and on arriving home found that a gate had been left open and cattle had gotten into the garden and trashed everything! I was beside myself, but looking back it was the best thing that ever happened. I simplified the design and now have more of a Mediterranean-style garden. I chose heat tolerant plants to cope with our severe summers and more trees on the lawn for shade. Succulents are a winner and have the most gorgeous shapes and colours, and I’ve planted rows of olive trees on the northern side of the house, which helps protect from dust and hot winds. Olive trees have the most beautiful foliage and are my go-to tree for greenery in the home.”

Zanna appreciates the sense of coolness a green garden adds, and loves that it gives the feeling of a private sanctuary in the middle of nowhere, especially in times of drought. And it’s not uncommon on a scorching Summer afternoon for youngest daughter Millie to have let her pony onto the lawn to enjoy the pop up sprinkler system!

For Zanna and her family, the home they have created perfectly suits their lifestyle and it’s one that Zanna would never give up. “It sounds like a cliché, but I really do love the wide open space – it gives you a sense of freedom. It can be hard at times, but so rewarding in so many other ways,” smiles Zanna. “I love this lifestyle for our family.”

Down to the Wire

Words Angie White / Photos Carolina Gonzalez

Driving down a typical country dirt road toward Andrena Smith’s home on the outskirts of Nyngan does not prepare you in the slightest for the oasis that she has created for her family. It all begins at the front gate with a slight teaser; two rustic sheets of tin standing guard, intriguing, and as I follow the road leading into the property I find myself leaning further and further forward in my seat in amazement and curiosity.

Full life-size sculptures of sheep, cattle, horses, dogs, emus, pigs and birds all made of wire litter the driveway, some threaded with handmade ceramic pieces. I felt a little like Alice in Wonderland exploring this new place.

Anna, who was brought up on a property between Nyngan and Tottenham NSW and lived at “Gerelah” in her younger years, married David in 1981 and moved to Nyngan to live on “Eudora”. She is an accomplished artist who credits her artistic genes from her mother Martha who was most interested in sketching and flower arranging, and her aunt on her paternal side, who was a ceramicist and has a piece in the Melbourne Art Gallery today.

Together Anna and David reared their daughters Oona and Philippa (now grown and living away from home) in this peaceful place. Anna is a most welcoming, vivacious and an interesting individual with a kind heart and an outstanding talent for art in so many forms. Anna has managed to incorporate life on the land into her art using all kinds of natural materials.

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“If I’m riding along mustering and I see an interesting piece of wood, a stick or wire of any sort I grab it and take it with me” said Anna. “There is so much inspiration in the bush for my works and I like to make it as interesting yet close to nature as I can.”

Anna’s sister Rochelle Mackillop is also an accomplished artist and while different, the two complement each other in their individual art forms. “Rochelle is a lot freer in her art style where as I am a little closer to the form, but our artworks blend well together and we enjoy discussing methods and sharing tips of ways to incorporate and produce different pieces.”

Anna has always been fascinated by art and started dabbling initially with smaller ceramic pieces such as cups, plates and bowls and tried her hand at painting. She built herself a kiln and over time has developed her own personal style which is so obviously present within the garden at “Eudora”.

From lounge chairs made of wire to super-sized apples and kelpies herding sheep, there’s a little piece of Anna’s art interwoven in every step across the property. Anna can often be found working in her garden followed by her real life working dogs and pet lamb as the water in the nearby Box Cowal glitters and plays hosts to a myriad of wildlife in the background.

For Anna her favourite medium is wire and netting because of its durability which lends itself nicely to sculpture work. “People quite often ask me to make sculptures for them of their favourite dogs or life-size animals. The production of each sculpture varies according to its complexity or size but it’s always a labour of love.” Anna is keenly interested in the stories each client shares as to why they wish for a particular piece to be created and where they will put it in their home or garden.

Not unlike their garden, inside Anna and David’s home is much like walking into an art gallery. From the wire sheep standing patiently at the front door to each light in the ceiling with a different cover and style, be it copper wire or ceramic, each piece has a story.  Dresses and coats made of wire are hanging near wire hats alongside bold, ceramic designs which draw your eye, bringing to mind a bower bird with its collection of colours and lights.

Anna has a collection of paintings by other artists hanging in the home and loves to support their works in all mediums. “Each Artist has their own individual style and I love looking at what they all produce” she said. While Anna is passionate about her art she is also equally passionate about the land as she and David run a grazing operation in which Anna is 100 percent involved, the pair work side-by-side each day with whatever needs doing.

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“I wake at five [o’clock] each morning and complete a workout of sit ups, weight training and exercise. To work on a property you have to keep fit as you can be working physically for many hours and you need to be healthy and develop great core strength. I enjoy this time of morning as I know I will be ready for a full day of work ahead.”

As a part of their operation, Anna and David run a Samm stud and Merino sheep stud on two properties totalling 6,000 hectares.  They incorporate a small amount of cropping as well as some cattle from time to time. Although modest and not one to blow her own trumpet, Anna is undoubtedly a hidden talent in the Far West and her skills and creativity are simply breathtaking. Her artworks have touched many and are on display at homes and gardens around Australia and overseas.

Anna’s most recent exhibition was held at the Moree Gallery in early May while she has also had works on display at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, private gardens in Mudgee, Murrurundi, Narrabri, Scone, Warren, Narromine, Lightning Ridge and Sydney.

To know Anna is to love her – she is a true representation of a woman on the land who has quietly made a name for herself sharing her talent and love of art. “I absolutely love living in the bush. I love the freedom, nature around me, the sunrises and sunsets, animals and peacefulness. There are very few disadvantages to living out here and there is always a way to work out problems by thinking outside the box.

“…Prepare yourself for long days, eat well, keep fit, work hard, make things happen, make home special so family and friends love to visit, and most importantly make it a tranquil place for yourself.”

Glad to be a Govie

Words Ellie Russell / Photo Samara Harris

A passion for people, education and a natural curiosity to explore life in the bush has lead former South Australian Hannah Parish to pursue a rewarding career as a governess in the Far West…

Hannah Parish is much like any young woman in the workforce today – excitedly seeking adventure and new opportunities. Four years ago she took a leap and applied for a some-what unconventional role in primary education. Hannah’s job title is ‘governess’ and she works and resides on a remote sheep station at Louth in the Far West where she says she has uncovered her passion for education and the region she now proudly calls home.

“I spent my primary school years in Adelaide and then moved to Whyalla in South Australia with my family for high school and beyond. I don’t really know what inspired me to governess but I spent a lot of time camping as a child and loved being outdoors and in the bush. I think it was mostly the appeal of a completely different life and being able to combine educating children with being in the bush that pushed me to pursue this as a career,” said Hannah. For those unfamiliar with this type of work, a governess (or govie as they are affectionately known) is primarily responsible for supervising the children on a property (usually those in remote locations) and assist with their schoolwork.

A govie is required to ensure the children learn and understand the topics set out in the school curriculum. Governesses play a huge and important role in a number of farming families’ lives as often the parents will be well occupied with the day-to-day running of their properties and unable to assist with schooling their children in their remote locales.

Hannah Parish Governess

Before making the move out west Hannah was unsure what a governess even was. “I first heard about governessing when I was working as a housekeeper on a station in the Northern Territory. I never knew what governessing was until I met the govie at the time and since then I haven’t wanted to do anything else!” Hannah relocated to the Far West in 2013 and although admits the location can often feel isolating, she believes there are endless opportunities for those willing to make the move to this region themselves.

“I have had so many great opportunities in this role – I’ve done a few interviews now, been on television shows with the kids, supported the kids performing at the ICPA (Isolated Children and Parent’s Association) conference, travelled all across NSW, been a part of a local sporting team, flown a plane and so much more.” For some families it’s becoming increasingly difficult to secure a long-term governess for their children but Hannah can’t imagine ever leaving the region after her four-year stint so far. “I can’t see myself ever leaving the area.

When anyone asks me out being a governess out here I always tell them to give it a go. I applied for a job on a whim and will be forever grateful for the opportunity it has provided me to discover what I love. Governessing definitely isn’t for everyone but you will never know if you don’t try!”

Endless possibilities for team Mudford…

Words Angie White / Photos Carolina Gonzalez

Palettes of crisp white, navy stripe and a kitchen any cook would dream about are all features of the gorgeous outback farmhouse the Mudford family have tastefully renovated and now call home.

When Darren and Katie Mudford moved to their new property “Trowell Creek” near Hermidale, 75 kilometres west of Nyngan, they immediately fell in love with the red earth and embracing community, but not so much with the house that became their new home. “I’ll never forget the first night we spent in our ‘new’ house which was tiny and run-down with one bedroom. It was a windy night and the doors of the various out-houses rattled and banged as we were wide-eyed and terrified in our new surroundings” Katie said.

“The first thing we did the next morning was take all of the doors off the hinges! It was a great adventure as we had no hot water, no air-conditioning and no television. We got the hot water working as the summer cooled off, the air conditioner came the following summer after a scorching two weeks of 8 months pregnant and 46 degrees and the television eventually followed after almost three years.”

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With the almost impossible task of getting trades people to travel for a reasonable cost, the pair decided on purchasing a transportable six bedroom home and within a short five-month time frame the Mudfords had moved in, a month before their second child was due, considering this their now ‘forever home’. In 2012 an adjoining property “Urunda” came up for sale and the family, after a cursory glance at the house, decided to purchase it for the value of its land and soil more so than the house that was on the property. With the original plan of giving the house a lick of paint and a new flat pack kitchen for farm employees to live in.

“After settlement when I finally had a good look around, I realised that the house was in very poor condition” Katie said, “but could see what a beautiful home it once was. With an in-ground pool and being almost 10km closer to town we decided we would renovate the house for us to move into. To save on costs, Darren decided he would do all of the renovations with the help of our employees. The further the renovations progressed the more we discovered needed doing. We had opened up a big can of worms.”

The Story continues… Read the full story in Issue 1 of Far West Living Magazine on sale right here.

Five Minutes with FuzzyArt

Words Ellie Russell / Photos Stephanie Stone

We’re atop the lookout of Fort Bourke Hill with views spanning across the township of Cobar as I watch Ann-Maree Johnson paint a beautifully vibrant (and perfectly proportioned) female nude. Despite the searing summer heat and abundance of flies, it’s obvious Ann-Maree is passionate about art and the way it makes her feel. Her energy is infectious and like me, many have been lucky enough to get a taste at what life is like behind the easel embroiled in a world of colour as Ann-Maree shares her passion with hundreds of like-minded, budding artists across the Far West and beyond.

Born and bred in Cobar, Ann-Maree (pictured above), also known as Fuzz (a childhood nickname adopted due to her curly hair, and now part of her professional trademark FuzzyArt) spent the majority of her life and early years in the Far West. After a short stint in Sydney where she attended art classes regularly, Ann-Maree moved to the Pilbara in Western Australia where she completed further studies at Tafe and obtained her certificate IV in art. Ann-Maree describes the experience of learning, creating and playing with art at this time so enjoyable and likens it to being in Kindergarten again. “For as long as I can remember my favourite thing to do as a kid was to draw. I used to joke that I was born with a pencil in my hand,” said Ann-Maree.

“Art has definitely always been my passion. I did leave it for a while, life seemed to take other avenues, and I guess I got busy doing other things, but I found I just wasn’t myself without art and as soon as I picked up a paint brush again it felt like I had come home.”

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Ann-Maree specialises in a modern, contemporary style of painting, one in which she said took her quite some time to discover. “I have tried many mediums over the years and different styles searching for my own style and it really has taken me years to find what I call my ‘style’. I love bright colours and painting subjects that portray a hint of something real without being realistic.

I like the person viewing my art to wonder a bit and find things in the piece. Everyone sees something different, and I like that.” Some of Ann-Maree’s artworks and works-in-progress adorn the walls of her workplace Belle Visage in the main street of Cobar. Colourful, lively birds, frogs and big-bottomed nudes are splayed across the various canvases in the room.

“I’m personally drawn to the watercolour look, it always catches my eye and I think that is why I’m so drawn to ink. Ink and I have been having an awesome relationship for the past few years, I love the vibrant colours and the unique effects ink can give, it never fails to excite me.”

FWL Feature: Millinery Darling

Words Ellie Russell / Photos Troy Ruttley, Louth Races and Millinery Darling

I’m finding it is not unusual to come across some pretty talented people in the Far West region, after all, uncovering this talent was a big influencer for me to create Far West Living. Today’s feature is shining a spotlight on one of these special locals. Having known Leah for some time now, I am not surprised at how talented she is across a myriad of things although, I have to admit, when she shared her passion project with the world back in 2013 I had no idea she possessed the incredible millinery skills and creativity she does! I think it is fantastic we have such varied talents on offer in the area, particularly those women juggling many “hats” (pardon the pun) including ‘working mother’, ‘caring wife’, ‘farm hand’, ‘business woman’ and, in Leah’s case, milliner.

On Delta Station, comprising some 140,000 acres just downstream from the village of Louth on the Darling River, Leah Le Lievre, her husband and parents in law run a Merino sheep and Hereford cattle operation. Leah has been a local to the Cobar and far west region for the majority of her life and having spent some stints in Sydney and Wagga Wagga, found herself drawn back to Cobar.

“Both my parent’s families have been in Cobar for five generations. You’d call us ‘Iron Ringers’.

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Leah moved to Delta Station in 2011 when she married Sam, they now raise their two children on the property and immerse themselves in life on the land. Besides her duties as a working mum and regular helper on the property, Leah started her own online business in 2013 called Millinery Darling, designing and hand making hats and head pieces, a skill that blossomed out of a lack of being able to source original pieces stocked in stores to wear to local race meets. “I didn’t want to go to a race meeting wearing the same as someone standing next to me. If I didn’t like outfits that were in shops, I’d sew my own, so it was only a matter of time before I started making my own headpieces too”.

In the early stages, Leah admits she made some “rookie” errors when making her own pieces using a hot glue gun to secure her designs. “This is a big ‘no no’ in the Millinery game. I’ve since learnt the fine art of hand stitching everything. There is some glue used, but very minimal amounts, mainly to secure a stitch.” Leah is dedicated to her passion and has attended the International Milliners’ Forum in Wagga Wagga twice to ensure she is learning from the very best in the industry. Leah also credits Waltraud Reiner, formerly of Torb & Reiner in Melbourne, for some of her tuition as Waltraud travels to remote areas of Australia teaching classes in millinery where Leah has been lucky enough to fine tune her stitching and finishing techniques.

Millinery Darling

“For me, I love to learn the traditional methods [of millinery] and then as many of the top Milliners will say, ‘let the materials talk to me’. Each type of material we use has a different purpose and behaves in different ways.” Since 2013, Leah has seen some significant growth in her business and has started to perfect her technique and find her spot in the millinery marketplace. “I’ve lifted my prices a little, due to the increase in skill and the final product I’m able to deliver now. This means less headpieces created per month but it means the quality is there and my customers are happy with that and so am I.” At present Leah is not a full time milliner and in addition to her millinery business, she offers her skills in business consultancy to locals within the region which helps with a little extra income as her millinery business and clientele develops. She is hopeful by Spring Racing Carnival next season that she will be offering her millinery services full time.

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Despite all of this, Leah’s family are first and foremost graziers and the property and working on the land is their livelihood. Leah’s passion and her business consultancy has helped inject cash into the running of the household particularly in times of drought, which is so common in the far west area. Leah’s location is also unique in that her home is quite remote, which can often prove to be challenging when running an online business, but not impossible.

“Running a business from the bush has only one hurdle; weather. If it rains, our mail run gets put off. That means that sometimes I drive to the Post Office, which is 110kms to Bourke or 150kms to Cobar (one way). That’s not so bad though, as it means the kids get a milkshake and I have a coffee.”

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“…Running a millinery business from the bush isn’t too different to a lot of other milliners. We [milliners] all request photos of your outfit and sometimes if you have a square of fabric from a custom outfit we’ll ask you to post it to us and we incorporate it into your headpiece. I’d say, living out bush means we add only a couple of days extra on postage, but if we’re organised, that doesn’t matter.”

Having grown up in the region and having a passion for the area, particularly the unique village of Louth, Leah says her favourite thing about living in the far west region is the people. “We know each other, help each other out and respect and accept each other for our differences. Especially in our local district. I love Louth. I have a shirt a bunch of girlfriends and I screen printed ourselves and wore to the local races a lifetime ago – before I met my husband. I still have it. I can’t believe I ended up moving here!”

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Leah is a big supporter of shopping locally and loves the connection the local shop owners in Bourke and Cobar have with their customers. “If there’s enough interest, they’ll stock the items. For example, we couldn’t buy nice ladies shoes in Cobar after our local shoe store closed, so Nara at The Kidz Boutique is now stocking shoes such as Walnut. I’m also a regular at Gumnuts [Gifts and Homewares] in Cobar. Trudy has done an amazing job there – I can buy anything my heart desires and purchase most birthday gifts there plus Kim always makes the perfect coffee so I’m usually browsing whilst I wait for my coffee. The girls at Carole’s of Bourke also listen to their customers. They stock natural fibres in their clothing ranges, such as Goondiwindi Cotton.”


Leah’s top 3 things to do in the far west

  • Farm stays at Trilby, Idalia or Rose Isle where you can fish and swim in the Darling River
  • Lunch at Shindy’s Inn at Louth
  • Hike through Gundabooka National Park (located between Bourke and Louth)

Pavlova Roll

Recipe by Rebecca Pearce, Gumpopla Station NSW

This recipe is featured in the Broken Hill School of The Air cookbook, Boots Off Apron On. To read more about the cookbook and the story of how it came to fruition head here to read the feature. 

Ingredients
– P4 egg whites
– 1 cup caster sugar
– ¾ tsp vanilla essence
– 1 tsp white vinegar
– ½ cup toasted desiccated coconut
– 250ml cream, whipped
– 1 ½ cups sliced fruit eg. banana, strawberries, kiwi fruit
– Cornflour.


Method
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a tray and line with baking paper. Grease paper and sprinkle with cornflour, shake off any excess. Beat egg whites until peaks form. Add sugar slowly, beating continuously. Blend in vanilla essence and vinegar.

Spread evenly on tray. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. Cook in a moderate oven until golden. Allow to cool. Turn cold pavlova onto baking paper, spread with cream and fruit along the middle. Using the baking paper, carefully roll up, use the baking paper to help place roll on to serving plate. Use any fruit that you like.

Garnish and serve with leftover fruit and a sprinkle of chocolate.

FWL Feature: Boots Off Apron On

Words Ellie Russell / Photos Jane Smith & Boots Off Apron On

When it comes to raising a family on the land in the remote region of the Far West kids don’t miss out on too much. They get to learn some of the best life skills like how to cook their grandmother’s famous biscuits or how to grow their own veggies – but what they don’t get is the traditional style of schooling, instead they attend a special kind of school – the School Of The Air.

Pixie Moses and Bree Wakefield are two local far west women very familiar with School Of The Air (SOTA) and have made it their mission and business to support, promote and grow the Broken Hill SOTA services in their region through the creation of BOOTS OFF apron on, a cookbook celebrating the many tried and tested recipes of families who benefit from the SOTA services.

Pixie and Bree recently spoke with FWL to share a little about how the project came about and why it is so important for us all to get behind this incredible initiative. For those unfamiliar with the concept of SOTA, it is a unique community of outback families who don’t have access to a primary school close by. With Broken Hill SOTA, teachers in Broken Hill send out schoolwork to families for their children to complete with the help of a parent or governess at home. Traditionally SOTA was conducted over the radio where children would communicate with their teachers via radio.

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“Most students have their own schoolroom at home and some even do their work at the kitchen table,” Pixie explains. “We also have a few traveling students whose classroom might be in a different place from week to week. Long gone are the days of lessons via a radio.“”With the advances of modern technology, our students now have air lessons on a computer. The teacher has a live video stream and is able to call on students via video or microphone to speak to the class.”

“Our kids don’t have to ‘learn to adapt’ to this lifestyle, it’s all they know. It’s what they have grown up with.”

Pixie, her husband and two daughters live on and manage Avenel Station located 140km from Broken Hill where their girls have both completed their schooling through the Broken Hill SOTA. Bree, her husband and their three children live on Banoon Station located 75km from Mildura, Victoria (approximately 4 hours from Broken Hill) which makes them the most southern property in SOTA. The two women connected through their roles on the fundraising committee of the Parents and Citizens Association (P&C) for the SOTA in 2014 along with a number of other passionate outback mums. “We made a two-year commitment and raised a significant amount of money for the school. It was suggested at a P&C meeting that the committee update the school cookbook,” the ladies explain.

“The school was celebrating its 60th anniversary in September 2016 and it was decided a new cookbook would be a great way to mark the event.” The creation of the book took about nine months and proved to be a huge workload for Pixie and Bree being located 500km from one another. “We spent a lot of time emailing and speaking on the phone. All of the recipes were submitted to us online, along with the photos from the school community.”

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“Nothing was more satisfying during that period; than when our internet would start a new month and we’d have a few days of high speed, before it was quickly gone from downloading images and uploading them to the spreadsheet we used to create the book…”

The ladies have credited a fellow SOTA mother (and previous FWL feature story), Jane Smith, for her efforts and help during the process. “At the drop of a hat Jane would style and photograph anything we asked of her. She designed our gorgeous book cover and continues to contribute photos, as we need them.” ≠“What we have created is worth every late night, the countless hours and all those stressed phone calls to each other.”

BOOTS OFF apron on has proved to be a huge success for the Broken Hill SOTA having sold approximately 2,500 copies across every state in Australia including some sales internationally, and third print run has just been finalised. The book comprises 194 pages (10 chapters) of beautiful recipes and photography capturing the essence of bush life in the region. From smoko through to dinner time and dessert, the recipes have your household covered!

Far West Living is Here

I am incredibly excited to finally share my newest “baby” with the world, Far West Living. For those who don’t know me, my name is Ellie Russell and I am a freelance graphic designer based in Cobar in upper north west NSW. I am a born and bred local to this area and over the years have moved to and from Cobar on several occasions for study, work and travel and something keeps bringing me home.

There’s something about this place that makes it special and unique. To some people it may seem like the very ends of the earth with its vast red dirt, isolation and open plains as far as the eye can see. To me, it’s home to so many brilliant, talented and creative individuals who often don’t realise how precious and incredible their stories are. It’s the place I call home.

“I want Far West Living to not only be an amazing vessel for tourism in our region, but to also uncover the hidden gems housed here. I created this project as a way of showcasing and shining a spotlight on the many people who inspire, educate and excite me and I know will excite you too. I plan to regularly share the stories and photos of these residents through the FWL blog, and soon, the printed publication.”

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Throughout my experience working in printed publications previously in the realms of rural and regional news, I have often seen a trend where our area can be forgotten, not intentionally, however the area doesn’t get as well represented as I believe it should. We plan to give the far-western region the recognition it so deserves.

FWL captures authentic Australia – the people, the places, the landscapes, the animals…. everything that makes this region so beautiful. I hope you enjoy taking a walk across the far west with us and plan a visit some time soon.

FWL Feature: The Shady Baker

Words & Photos Jane Smith (The Shady Baker)

Along with my husband, Terry and our two children, Annabelle and George, I live on Scarsdale Station, east of Broken Hill in NSW. Scarsdale is 24800 hectares and is a family owned operation where we run Merino sheep and Hereford cattle.I grew up on a sheep station in the Ivanhoe area of NSW so I have spent almost all of my life in the Far West region.Jane SMith[Photo by Michael Wee]

In 2011 I started to share some recipes and photos on a friend’s website and it then occurred to me that I could start a blog independently and so The Shady Baker was created. My blog started as a way of sharing recipes and photos of my vegetable garden and baking. Today on my blog I share snippets of our life including the wide open spaces, stock work, animals and of course, baking. The Shady Baker provides a little space for me to gather my thoughts and photos and put them together as a way of documenting everything that I am grateful for. It acts as a journal of sorts and I often look back through old posts to find things that I have baked or to see when I planted my tomatoes the previous year.

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My blog is also a contact point which over the years has provided a starting point for many projects and more importantly, many friendships. In the future I hope to continue to share my part of the world and our way of life through my blog. Finding a community of like-minded people through blogging continues to amaze me and I hope this always remains. Blogging has also linked me to many other people who share my love for baking sourdough bread. Living in the far west region we have access to plenty of wide open spaces which I love. From a photography point of view I am always observing the changing light and distant horizons that we are so lucky to experience. Our children are immersed in rural life and they are learning life skills every single day including stock work, horse riding, motorbike riding, raising vegetables and seeing where their meat and other food originates from.

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One of my favourite things to do is to cook outdoors and luckily we have many paddocks where we can light a fire and cook a simple meal, whenever time permits. In our part of the far west region we are lucky to have some unique attractions and businesses and shopping locally is something that I am committed to.


Jane’s top 3 places to visit in the far west region…

When I make my weekly trip to Broken Hill I can always be found kick-starting my day at the Silly Goat located at 360 Argent Street. The hard working crew are serious about their coffee and food and there are plenty of good vibes that overflow onto the street.

Willy Nilly Art is a vibrant art gallery and retail space located at 415 Argent Street. Amanda Johnson creates bold artwork which is unique to our region as well as gifts, cards and interesting wares with a local flavour. This shop is appealing to both locals and visitors: look for the colourful old push bike parked out the front.

Right now, following welcome rainfall, it is possible for me to mention the Menindee Lakes. The lakes are bursting back into life and whether you are into fishing, swimming, camping or just day tripping this area is spectacular right now. As we recently discovered, it is also a great place to introduce inland horses to the water.