OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST (26)

Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1974-75 (26)

On movie films. There was one night when a staff member decided on a private film showing for himself. That was fine. The projector was set up in the classroom nearest to our house, where a breezeway was the separation between the classroom and our house. We and our children were in need of rest. The project with its audio support droned on into the night. It was getting later and later and it seemed the watcher was going to make an all night marathon of the viewing.

Enough is enough! I jumped out of bed, went into the school building, opened the switchboard and pulled the fuse. The projector stopped dead, and you could hear the teacher (who will remain nameless but who was the same person responsible for the film spillage problem from an earlier time) begin to panic.

The panic lasted for the rest of what was left of the night. The next morning I restored the fuse and the problem was solved. That was the last time we had an all night movie marathon.

We used to have a great number of visitors come into Warburton connected with education and other government departments. Often visits were fleeting, lasting several hours at most. Planes would come in during the morning and be gone by mid afternoon. There were occasions when people would come in and stay for longer.

Very rarely would anyone coming to visit, bring their own food or food supplies. They expected to be catered for and must have imagined that ingredients for meals came out of thin air.

During our second period of time at Warburton, we were looked after by a butcher in Kalgoorlie. We had a rotational arrangement for food supplies, again supported by the indefatigable Dennis Meaker who drove the TNT truck supplying Warburton with goods. We had several large eskies in which the butcher sent goods including meat, frozen vegetables and ice cream. When he arrived, Dennis would drop the eskies at our place. All the goods were unloaded into our freezer. We would then return the eskies with Dennis to the butcher together with an envelope listing preferred goods and a blank, signed cheque. This the butcher would fill in after getting our next order together.

Thanks to the goodwill of both the butcher and Mr Meaker, the system worked wonderfully well. It enabled us to have a good supply of decent, nutritious quality feed on hand for our family. And it was from this ‘larder’ that many meals were provided to visitors. I would pay tribute to my wife who did a huge amount with limited facilities when it came to meal preparation. Much cooking was done in an electric fry pan for as I have pointed out, the cost of gas made using the gas cooktop and oven far too expensive.

On one occasion, several contractors in town asked my wife if she would cook an evening meal for them. There were no food outlets or take away facilities available in Warburton. She agreed and was paid for her work. I make that point because very, VERY infrequently did anyone contribute ingredients or offer to reimburse meal costs.

To most meals were ‘freebies’ which cost us, but allowed those consuming our hospitality to keep intact their incidentals travelling allowances

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