Not long after I first got married, Amanda and I were offered work at a roadhouse in the outback. The place we were working was 164 kilometres from the nearest town, Newman to the north and about 1020km north of Perth.
It was a great old place with a small hotel offering basic accommodation, a bar, a restaurant and of course the petrol station.
There were 6 people working at the roadhouse, 2 people who lived on the cattle station that surrounded the roadhouse and one old aboriginal man who lived in a caravan just behind the roadhouse.
It was pretty isolated but I really did like it out there.
Once a week I would drive up to Newman just to see civilisation (they had a Woolworths!) but mostly I would just spend time watching videos, listening to music or playing pool in the bar.
We had been there a couple of months when we got offered the chance to go and work at the owners other site in Meekathara, around 250km further south.
There were some good advantages to taking the position, namely being 250km closer to Perth, staying in an actual town and also qualifying for zone allowance which gave us a tax break, something we couldn’t get at Kumarina because it was too close to Newman which, having more than 5000 people in, qualified it as a major centre.
So we packed up our things and headed south but it was soon pretty clear that the owner and I just didn’t get along and one day we were told that our positions were no longer available.
So, a little dejected about having being fired, we moved back to Perth.
We’d been back in the city a little more than a week when we had a call from the owner, desperate to have us back. She promised us various things telling me I could have the job of breakfast cook which was quite a demanding position.
It never happened. When we got back I was doing the allrounder work and filling in the shifts for peoples day off so I ended up doing 2 night shifts, 2 afternoon shifts and 2 morning shifts. My day off was after doing a night shift finishing at 6am and starting up doing a morning shift just 24 hours later.
Finally we’d had enough so we quit and moved back to Perth.
Again we got begged to go back and again we returned and yes, again we were not given what we were promised but we did our best to make a go of it.
We bought a caravan so that we didn’t have to live in the shared accommodation, and we stayed up there for a few more months.
Slowly over time though, the owner started making things a little more difficult. Telling us what we could or couldn’t eat and stopping us from accepting phone calls.
Her argument that it’s a work phone was not justifiable as we lived on site we should be able to get phone calls (usually late in the evening from my mother).
This was before mobile phone technology had made it out of the cities.
Finally, one Wednesday we were reading through the paper and saw our jobs advertised so it came as no great surprise when we were giving our marching orders on Saturday.
I for one was happy to leave.