Saturday, 31 January 2009

Dried Up Farmers

"You must be used to dealing with dried up farmers." was a statement made to me at Murrami last Friday evening. While I have met many farmers that are affected by the on going drought in south eastern Australia I had never heard it expressed in this manner.
I believe that this man was saying that the drying of the land had also had the effect of drying out the spirits, emotions and hope of the people who were affected. The dryness renders a brittle facet to the lives of people. It made me think about the many metaphors shaped around water that are used in the Bible and other works.
The movie night at Murrami was dry and hot. The storms that threatened in the east did not come and there was a special sense of peace among the people this night.

Kel Hodge

A Couple of Conversations

After the Barellan washout our movie train moved on to Carrathool. I had been told Carrathool itself had been moved from the Bank of the Murrumbidgee River to where the river boats were used to transport the wool clip. The new location while away from the risk of flood is not immune to constant dust storms that blow across the Hay plain.
Although the night was windy the local people gathered for a good night out at the back of the Carrathool pub which is a sheltered spot.
One of the locals mentioned that he had moved to Carrathool when there was 99 people living there as the town sign states. This man migrated from Europe and was happy to be in Carrathool as he felt needed and accepted by the community.
"It is a good place to be." he said.
The water that was once used for irrigating rice and other crops is no longer available to the district so the farmers are reverting back to dry land grazing or relying on the rain to grow cereal crops. The economy and population has diminished as a result of this change in circumstance.
I reckon that no matter how hard the wind blows at Carrathool the people remain because of their connection to each other and this hard land they love.
Kel Hodge

Thursday, 29 January 2009


I have been washed out of a tennis game, a cricket game and once I even got snowed out of a Rugby game. I have never been washed out at the movies, until Barellan last Wednesday.
The sky grew dirty with dust and the wind picked up. The some one hundred and sixty people attending "Movies Under the Stars" at Barellan were not daunted in their efforts to have a good time under the looming storm and oppressive heat.
Barellan is one of those small villages struggling for autonomy in the shadow of larger centres swallowing up their people and economy.
The people were in good spirits and needed to relax with friends, a sausage sandwich and a drink before the movie started.
To my surprise the movie did start and we was about halfway in before the rain finally came. The people left in a great hurry and we workers scurried around to save the electronic equipment form the moisture.
All was saved and yet I don't know how that teen movie finished. Yes, I think I really do.

Kel Hodge

Friday, 23 January 2009

Rankins Springs

Rankins Springs is a small village like many others in the Riverina. The village services a farming community that has had over eight dry years. One might be excused for thinking that moral would be extremely low in the community.

After attending "Movies Under the Stars" last Tuesday night I am pleased to say that the people who attended seemed to be in good spirits and optimistic about the future. There was a good representation of young families who have decided to invest in the future of the district. Listening to what some of the locals were saying it seems that the secret of keeping up peoples spirits is a supportive community.

One resident commented that, " We don't have divorces here because we try to look after one another.". This comment I believe was a reflection about the strength and resilience he perceived in Rankins Springs.

The kids really enjoyed the movie "Nim's Island" which was somewhat more tropical and exotic than Rankin's Springs. None the less, the night was warm and storms that threatened our evening did not come.

Kel Hodge

We all need friends

My travels take me all over the state which means I am often away from home. It also means that I spend a lot of time in the company of strangers and I am in unfamiliar territory.

This is good in many ways as it allows me to experience new and exciting things. I get listen to the stories people tell about their lives.

My travels also take me to the city of Sydney on a regular basis where there are some four million people residing in a much more hectic style of living than I am used to in the slow and peaceful rhythm of the bush. Logic should say that where there are so many people one could never feel alone. Being alone and feeling lonely are quite different experiences. I often feel lonely and anxious in the city.

I have found a haven where I am treated with kindness and persistent hospitality offered by two very good friends. I have kinown my friends for nearly twenty years and they practice the Christian ethic of hospitality. They offer their home and company amidst very busy lifestyles and I must say I am very greatful. Their names and are Rev. Gareth Burchell-Thomas and Rev. Karyn Thomas-Burchell.

I have featured some photos of my friends for you to look at.

To find a good place to rest is a wonderful thing. Kel Hodge.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Where there's a will there's a way!

What do you do if you are the proprietor of the Hillston Newspaper, The Spectator, which also services Ivanhoe but there's no transport service between Hillston and Ivanhoe?

Well you put your trust in country helpfulness. Each week the newspapers go on the side of the road in a box with a sign saying "Ivanhoe" and whoever is going to that town picks them up and provides the transport. I hear is hasn't failed in the last 8 years.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

You have got to be kidding!

Sometimes I shake my head in wonder at the lack of understanding between those in urban areas and those in the bush – leading to some bizarre stories. When I was in Louth recently I talked to a woman who had her house insurance increased from $400 to $1400. When she inquired why she was told she now lived in a flood zone. How can this be she asked as in her 74 years in the house there had never been a flood? It turns out that the insurance assessor had decided that as the government had bought Toorale station and all its water allocation, and the property was upstream from Louth, that now there would be so much water coming down the river that it would flood the town! Of course this has nothing to do with the reality and totally misunderstands how much and how water travels down the Darling.


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