Saturday, 31 January 2009

Hot, dry memories part II

I’m dreaming of a time, in a land that was hot and dry with drought and days like this hot day were normal and happened everyday. I’m dreaming of far north Queensland in the Gulf country again, two and half hours north of Julia Creek.   Arizona Station was my destination, a cattle property owned by Richard and Judy Makim who were to be my new employers. My job was to be a governess (home tutor) to three of their seven children.  The photo above was taken outside the Julia Creek Hotel, I'm standing in the car park wearing my town clothes.  I think this photo was taken after a trip to Mt Isa for a School of the Air (SOTA) sports day and we were stopping for a cold soft drink and a bite to eat before the last leg of the drive home.

I first arrived in Julia Creek by bus from Brisbane via Townsville, a very long two and a half day trip. Another girl who was just starting work on the same property as house keeper/jilleroo (female farm hand for those not in the know) was travelling with me. She was 16 and I was 18. I think we arrived on the day that the mail truck made it’s weekly run out to the stations along that route. So we waited by the post office for our lift out to Arizona station. I can’t even remember the mail truck drivers name, he was a very quiet man and was welcomed with cups of tea and cake at every station he stopped at along the way. He would literally sip, eat and run, he got a bit antsy if his mail run got held up for too long.  Each station would have a mail bag that was full that he would drop off as well as grocery deliveries and other necessities people ordered from town.  On his return journey he would stop by again and pick up the refilled mail bags to take back to the post office.  I would later realise how important this mail truck was to all of the people out here living so far away from town.  The mail truck was a life line to the outside world, exciting packages would arrive, mail from loved ones and school work for the next month and returned school work from correspondence teachers.  I used to send my rolls of film to be developed by mail, it used to return about 3 weeks later.  Talk about delayed gratification, but it was always exciting, nothing like instant gratification with digital cameras now.  I remember how we had till about 3 or 4 in the afternoon to get school work finished so we could send it off on the mail truck and everyone would be finishing off letters and licking stamps in a hurry so they didn't miss the mail truck.

The mail truck below on it's return journey, empty, except for refilled mail bags and a few passengers, always a bit of company for the mail man.  

I had arrived at my destination after a long, long, long trip there.  It was bare, hot and dry, but I was still excited.....I think.  Here are a few pictures of around the house.  The first two photos are of the front entrance to the house.  The main house is the larger building with stone fireplace on the right and the building on the left is the school room.  In between the two buildings is the entrance, a shaded concreted green house area.  Every morning at 6am I would be up and sweeping this entrance area as part my daily routine.  And every afternoon before sunset I would be out watering the gardens, a peaceful end to the day.   

The next view is from the side of the house looking back to the front gate. 

The last picture is looking out from the kitchen door to the cold storage room, the meat house which held the deep freezers and an old generator shed, down behind the tree line was the nearest water hole to the house.


Caroline said...

Thank you for sharing these photos & places I am really enjoying them as I guess I can relate to it.

Donald said...

My Jaw just dropped at the foxy chick in the first photo. I didn't see too many like that when I used to work out west! xxoo

Lisha said...

Alan Johnson said...

I am unsure if my comments have been previously sent, so hopefully unannoyingly I will re-enter them. I went to Arizona station in 1982 and worked as a jackaroo. Richard's father, Jack picked us up in Toowoomba and we went to Arizona from there. We had come from Florida together. At the time the governess was a little outspoken, kind of like a hippy. I don't think Richard and Judy liked her at all and they could hardly tolerate her. My friend Keith and I went on a similar camp out with the Governess and the housekeeper, Fiona. I enjoyed the time on the station. I spent a lot of time on a motorcycle and injured my shoulder near the end of my stay. It hurt for a whole year. Those are quite the memories we have of that time. It almost seems like parallel memories. The youngest boy at the time was about a 2 or 3 year old nicknamed Buddha. I think they said he might be a little mentally disabled, not sure though.

12 March 2010 6:11 AM

Lisha said...

Hi Alan, thanks for commenting about your Arizona experiences. They were good memories for me too. When I was there all of the children had nicknames and Buddha (Liam) was 9 years old. There were two more children after him, so 7 in total, all wonderful children. It was a hard year but a good one. I don't think Judy and Richard are there any more but their oldest son Dominic is running the property now.

28 April 2010 7:47 PM

Howard Atkinson said...

Arizona station is now owned and run by Phillip & Tanya Curr. It was sold back in 2006. They also own Auckland Downs & Coolreigh.

Phillip is Richards Nephew, so all is not lost as it is still in the family. Also the old house is no longer used as they built a brand new house across the creek near the airfield.

I had the pleasure of working for the "Currs" from 2005-2007. I went there knowing very little about station life but ended up walking away with a whole heap of skills and I will be forever grateful to Phillip & Tanya for this.

There was certainly a few colourful faces around here. I particularly enjoyed working with two Kewi fellas (Nigel & Jim) . Jim was as strong as a bull and he was the go too man when it came to hobbling a rouge bull or heifer.
Then there was the dogs (Panda,Hammer,Sam, Tom & good old Rex). One of my hardest and most upsetting moments was when Tom died.
I know people say you shouldn't get attached to working dogs & especially ones that aren't your own. But spending 2 years feeding them taking them for a bogie ( Swim) and working with them in general, I found it hard not to get attached.

Then there was Brian the bull. He was a "Red Angus" bull. During 05 Julia creek was going through a harsh dry spell, so I was putting feed out everyday for 2000 Weaner's 'Brian' been one of them. Over a period of time & with a lot of perseverance I managed to gain his trust, as to where I could just walk up to him and stroke him, even when he was laying on the dirt. He'd allow me to sit next to him.

So many good memories from Auckland Downs & Arizona Station, all steeped in history from the young baby girl Clara whose headstone sits in the middle of a paddock ( back in the days when the stage coaches used to pass by). To the founder of Arizona who is buried by the new house.

Hope you don't mind my little addition.

Thanks H.Atkinson (Pom)

Lisha said...

Thank you Howard! It's good to hear from other Arizona workers and who is looking after it now. Phillip lived on Taldora when I worked at Arizona and the Currs owned and ran Taldora station. At least it's still in the family. I was there when they first started building the mud brick houses. In fact some of my blood sweat and tears went into making those mud bricks. My name is etched on one of the concrete blocks laid as the foundation.
Thanks again for your addition.

Lisha said...

Thank you Howard! It's good to hear from other Arizona workers and who is looking after it now. Phillip lived on Taldora when I worked at Arizona and the Currs owned and ran Taldora station. At least it's still in the family. I was there when they first started building the mud brick houses. In fact some of my blood sweat and tears went into making those mud bricks. My name is etched on one of the concrete blocks laid as the foundation.
Thanks again for your addition.

Howard Atkinson said...

Phillips brother Carlton manages Taldora now. Not to sure if you've been up to Taldora house but it used to be 2 story's high, but they dropped it down to a single story house and completely renovated it. Carlton is married to Trisha, he has 2 girls ( might of had more children since I left)

I used to wonder about all the names etched into the concrete slabs. There is foot & hand prints of the kids where the staff kitchen is.
There was Four slabs poured but the one closest to the double gate was ripped up just after I left and a swimming pool was put in its place.

Tanya also did a really good job with the garden. She had us build raised flower beds using some of those famous mud bricks that you made. The garden turned out really nice.

Also the horse yards at the back of the house was completely ripped out and rebuilt. Not to mention the 100's K's of electric fencing that we replaced with barbed wire. My poor hands were cut to pieces. Lol

Lisha said...

Those are the foot and hand prints of the kids and myself. It's about time they put a pool in. We just used to just sit in a round horse trough to cool down at the old house.
Any news on Jennifer and Marcus?

Howard Atkinson said...

Marcus has a couple of property's up Mount Isa way. He's married with 4 children.
As for Jennifer I never really seen much of her. It would be on the very rare occasion when we went to saxby downs or Julia creek round up.
Don't want to go into too much detail with this being a public post, but they had a falling out over a couple of things. She's married but no children as far as I'm aware of.
They live in somewhere in Julia creek. Her husband works for the DPI dipping cattle at the town yards.

I think Dominic is still living down your way. I know they bought a property in NSW with his wife Belinda.

Unknown said...

Hey guess what! I'm glad no-one had shocking memories from their Arizona experiences...Dad (Richard Makim) found this site by accident when he was googling his name...funny old Dad, he's doing pretty well with technology all things considered.

He was trying to find some login he'd lost to get into his iPad or something random like that when this site showed up. That hippy woman they didn't like, Mary Anne, yeah, that's an understatement :) Mary Anne was my governess, I liked her but I think she used to really challenge Mum & Dad....that's always going to end in tears.

I remember you Alisha, I must have known you too Howard. We all left up north nearly 10 years ago. Mum & Dad are near Armidale, Dom's out near Barraba. I'm out here just now helping him with a website for his hunting business he runs on the side from his property. You can have a squiz at him now as a grown up on the about page if you like ;)

Anyway, Dad wanted to comment on here but he couldn't figure it out so i might help him when i get to their place next week, cheers, Neroli

Lisha said...

Hi Neroli,

How exciting to hear from you!! I just found Jacinta's website too and facebook messaged her today. Yep, Dom is all grown up now and looks just like his dad! Hi Richard!! I have many fond memories of the Makim's and Arizona. I have lots of photo's too of you all. It's funny how this blog page keeps popping up and people keep commenting. Arizona and the people there sure had an impact on many people. I still have dreams at night of working there. I guess you all made a big impression on me when I was just a wee 18 year old fresh from the city. Thanks for commenting Neroli, you made my day.

That Hunting sight looks interesting! A sideline that serves many purposes.


Howard Atkinson said...

Hey Neroli,
I'm not to sure if we did meet. My memory is shocking when it comes to placing a name to a face. We did come up to Arizona a couple of times before Phillip & Tanya took over. I started working for Phillip in October 2005 at Auckland Downs, when i arrived Bridget Makim was helping Tanya out for a couple of weeks, just while the new Governess settled in . Bridget then went up to Arizona, that's when we came up to visit one Sunday. I can remember Julie Anderson & a girl called Anna who worked there. We all ended up heading to the Saxby river to put the net out to see if we could catch some Barra. This was also the first time i met Belinda & Dominic. Speaking of dominic, its good to see he's aged gracefully. lol.
Someone should set a facebook page up dedicated to Arizona, so past & present people can post pictures. :)

Give my regards to your family Neroli.

Unknown said...

Hey you Arizona groupies :)

We should start an old Arizona facebook page...good idea! I didn't think my comment posted, it didn't appear to so I didn't come back to check for replies...

I just opened this page to show my sister Jacinta (Pugin) and she was equally as shocked as I was to discover this funny little blog hangout.

I still haven't made it over to Mum & Dad's but i'm sure they'll want to comment when i do. If i get a fb page up for us all to hang out on, i'll let you know...better ask the family first.

Jacinta didn't get a fb message or request Lisha, but it might have gone to that weird folder...she'll have to go look at the weird folder :) xxn

Lisha said...

Thanks for coming back Wooj, cause that's the name that I really know you by and Pugin too! To think I wrote this blog post about 4 years ago because it was a atinking hot Summer here in Sydney! Feel free to check out the rest of my blog and my email is

And yes please start a Facebook page, I have many photo's to share (with approval by the Makim clan of course). Maybe I'll try FB again for Pugin. I imagine my message has gone to the "others" folder where things mysteriously disappear.

Lisha said...

And your comments are published after my approval that you are not a robot trying to spam me :+D

Anonymous said...

Hello ex-arizonian's! Great initiative lisha, Jude & I are enjoying it.

For Allens benefit if you get back to reading this - Liam has had a job since he left school and is a has done pretty well. he did have encephalitis when he was six months old so he was set back a lot more than other Kids from this.

Your own 3 kids look good, we are still in touch with pat & Clint - '88 was a great year people - wise, but very hard drought & brucolosis testing - wise. All those thousands of calves we had to ween early all performed magnificently in later life :)

We' re going to sign off & see if the message will send...if so, more comments coming!

Lisha said...

Hey great to hear from you Richard! Keep the comments coming or you can email me at

I usually check the comments before I publish them. I left a few comments on your blog too Richard, and I see that you were in touch with Clint, he was a fun guy, always wondered what he got up to later. I was in touch with Patric back in 2009 the year I wrote this blog post. I guess I was missing the Arizona life after living in the Sydney suburbs for so long. I started the blog as a photographic family journal back in 2007 and I've added bits and pieces of memories along the way. Although I've been sliding a bit on the blogging side lately. But keep the comments coming and I might even do another Arizona post!

Anonymous said...

Carlton has 3 girls when I worked at Taldora station a few years ago.. Funny how no one says anything bad about him here..he was the meanest person I have met apart from my riding instructor. I still
have nightmares to this day. Will never forget my experiences there thats for sure !