We were burning all the hundreds of branches we had collected over the summer holiday. After every bit of bad weather, Camp Moogerah’s massive green lawns were littered with dead foliage which we duly collected to make the property look presentable for the school camps. Now the time had finally come to torch the fruit of our work.
As we watched the flames eat away our pile of stick-pickings, I ended up chatting to Richard. He is from Western Queensland. To anyone who knows a bit of Australian geography, Western Queensland means hardship, tough times and leathery skin. Born nearly 70 years ago, Richard grew up on the edges of the great inland deserts, where the land is like a cracked heel; dry, furrowed and painful. He didn’t come from money, he came from farmers and hard work – “yakka” they call it here – and Richard still does a hard day’s yakka every day, beginning at sunrise, tending to the nearly 100 premium horses he breeds for the glamorous race-tracks of Australia’s big cities.