Life for a kid in the outback | photos, video

OUTBACK KIDS: Archie Thies from Delamere Station and his friend Ada Burke from Broadmere Station.

OUTBACK KIDS: Archie Thies from Delamere Station and his friend Ada Burke from Broadmere Station.

It is an eight-hour round trip if Wyatt McDonald can convince his parents to take him to buy a Happy Meal from McDonald’s. 

Wyatt, from Timber Creek which is 600km south of Darwin, would need to ask his mum to tackle a 14 hour drive if he wants to wrap his lips around some KFC chicken. 

Welcome to outback Australia, also known as ‘woop woop’, ‘beyond the black stump’ or the ‘Never Never’. 

You will find whip-cracking cowboys, secret waterfalls and Wyatt even has seven pet crocodiles.

The isolation is not all bad for outback children like Wyatt who say they love living in the world’s largest playground.

“You’ve got lots of area to play in, and it is really fun because you can do more stuff and there is less pollution and cleaner air,” he said. 

Childhood in outback Australia bares little resemblance to one lived in a city.

For starters children attend school in their own homes and lessons are taught over the internet. 

After school activities are pretty different from that of a city kid too, especially for Wyatt with his pet crocodiles. 

“We do croc feeding and I think we have got seven crocs, freshwater crocs,” outback kid Wyatt McDonald said

Wyatt lives in Timber Creek a tiny town nestled between Kununurra and Katherine. 

“You can find snakes a fair bit and you can have lots of animals.”

WOOP WOOP: Wyatt McDonald lives in Timber Creek a four-hour drive west of Katherine.

WOOP WOOP: Wyatt McDonald lives in Timber Creek a four-hour drive west of Katherine.

Clintan Dehne lives at Bloodwood Downs Station, 45km south of Mataranka, and said snakes are part and parcel of living remotely. 

“I’m used to getting a lot of snakes which is kind of cool,” Clintan said. 

“King browns, black head pythons and children pythons are fairly common.”

But they don’t just slither around outside, Clintan said it is not unusual to find a venomous reptile inside the home. 

“When it gets cold they try and find a place to hide and get warm so they usually come in and live somewhere like under the house or up on the roof.”

His brother Cameran agreed there were a lot of snakes lurking around the house. 

“When you are on a station you see a lot of snakes,” Cameran said. 

“My sister was at our grandma’s place and my grandma has a lot of snakes there, she put her hand in to do something and got bitten on her hand, but it wasn’t a poisonous snake.”

On the weekends Clintan lends a hand around the station, helping to muster more than a thousand head of cattle on the property. 

“I normally drive around on my motorbike and help my dad out,” he said. 

After the work is done, the brothers like to hit the dam for some kneeboarding and water-skiing. 

“Some fun things is when you get big swamps you can get your boat in it when its really deep and go skiing, it is fun,” Clintan said. 

“We like to go swimming in the dam, riding our quad bikes and going camping sometimes,” Cameran said. 

Cameran said he prefers the outback to city life. 

“Because you don’t get a lot of traffic, you get peaceful nights, there aren’t people screaming on the streets.”

Charlie Murphy lives a few hundred kilometres further south of the Dehne brothers.

Kalala Station is a family-owned cattle property about 300km south of Katherine, nestling in the corner of the Stuart Highway, and the Carpentaria Highway.

The Murphy family raises about 12,000 cattle on 3700 square kilometres, that is about four times the size of New York City. 

For fun, Charlie and his cousin rides bulls, but he said it isn’t scary. 

“I ride poddies, you hold on and then you fall off,” Charlie said. 

A trip to the supermarket and home takes Charlie’s family six hours in the car.  

With all that space comes a whole lot of pets. 

Isla Scott lives on Mountain Valley Station, between Beswick and Bulman. 

“We have 21 horses, 10 of our own and 11 station horses and then we have six of my dad’s dogs and then one of our worker’s dogs and then we have a house dog,” Isla said. 

”I really want a pet dingo, cause that would be cool.”

She also lends a hand around the family property on the weekends. 

“Sometimes if it is a weekend or after school we go horse riding or go mustering with my dad,” she said. “We try to catch some bulls and stuff but I have to stay in a safe spot.”

But it isn’t all bull riding and water skiing for these children, living in an isolated community can be lonely at times. 

“I don’t really have friends outside where I live,” Isla said. 

Three kids live on Joe Brown’s Amungee Amungee Station, 240k south-west of Borroloola, and when asked how often he gets to see his friends he said “not very often”. 

Jessie Miller and her sister are the only children living on Margaret Downs Station.

“It is two hours from Mataranka and three hours from Katherine,” Jessie said. 

She said she gets to visit her friends “once every couple of months”. 

“It gets very lonely.” 

Katherine Times

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