Hoedowns for country towns: A boot scoot and tractor toot weekend at Mellenbye Station

So just from the outset, I am not creative enough to come up with that blog title myself. In fact, the two parts of the title are the names of various groups of people who are the main attractions at this weekend-long event. We are here with our friends who we did our 1st Koorda trip with. It’s another after work Friday start, this time going through to Monday, with me on annual leave and Mr P unemployed. The venue is Mellenbye Station on the lands of the Badimaya people, 4 and half hours north of home. We have been to Mellenbye before, and now follow them on FB. As a result I became aware of this weekend. The station is hosting 3 different groups of young people, all raising money for various charities. Saturday is event day, with daytime activities around the station, including blue tree painting, before an evening of dancing, the Boot Scooting part of the weekend. I also follow the Travelling Jackaroo, the Tractor Toots part of the weekend.

We arrived Friday evening and had a gin and tonic in hand quickly, and a fire roaring not long after. The sunset this evening was brilliantly orange. After dinner we settled into telling tall stories, star gazing, catching up, and celebrating the “christening” of Mark the Lark. There are a few people here already, in all sorts of caravans, campers, rooftop tents and onsite accommodation. There’s so much room though that it’s hard to gauge how many might be here. We are closest to the shearing shed and sheep shower. It’s shaping up to be a lovely weekend …

Saturday morning and one out of four doesn’t feel the best. I’m not a dibber dobber, so I’m not saying who it was … Our fire was still glowing so we got that roaring again, coffee on and some toast. After a lovely warm shower, thanks to the donkey boiler, we went for a fabulous long wander, exploring all the new amenities installed since we were last here. There’s now a container bar, many chalets of various sizes, glamping sites and amenities, dotted over a huge area. Everyone can have their own space, and then a bit more.

Eventually we came full circle and wandered up to the rig that the Travelling Jackaroo is journeying around Australia in. It needs to be seen to be believed. It’s a tractor, towing a trailer box, with the body of a Cessna mounted on the roof. The plane’s registration number is VH- RFDS, for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The young man driving it is Sam Hughes, from Maleny in Queensland. He set off 18 months or 10000kms ago, when he was 17. He is still displaying provisional licence plates! He is raising money for 3 charities, the RFDS, Dolly’s Dream and Drought Angels. He is one of the (not a) VIPs here this weekend. He wasn’t at the rig, but we said hi to Bitsa, his dog and checked out the set up. It’s quite comical, while looking rugged enough to go the distance.

On the other side of the camp kitchen we wandered into the action in the vehicle shed. There’s the old REO Speedwagon we saw last time, that is now going, the old fire engine, also going, a Freo tram and a Ford monster truck! Without hesitating we signed up to take a ride, an expensive $5 and off we went. It’s a monster alright, sporting a 454 big block chevy motor, and it sounds like it. Robbo took us out to the lake and back, via the airstrip, past the wildflowers and along the now dry creek bed. It was a fun ride, although a little too much for one sickly tummy.

Time for a cup of tea and a ginger bikkie. And a little lie down (I’m still not dobbing). The three of us not under the weather took the opportunity to have a sneak peak at the venue, as well as the rest of the shearing shed, that has changed a lot, for the better, since 2018.

Time to paint a tree blue, with Kendall. You have likely seen many a blue tree on your travels. They came about because her brother painted a tree blue over a couple of days, for fun, to see who would notice. Some time later he took his life and she now goes around painting trees blue to raise awareness. And now there are two blue trees here at Mellenbye, near the C-Bar. Very cool. And we helped paint them. Time for some cheese and crackers before a bevvie back at the C-bar, for happy hour.

The remaining pair of VIPs treated us to a Boot Scooting demo between the blue trees. These two young girls set off 20,000kms ago to travel around Australia doing Hoedowns for Country Towns to raise awareness and money for different charities in each state. Here in WA it’s the Blue Tree Project. They had the same Line dancing teacher and now they demo and get people up to try it out. They kicked up some awesome dust between the trees.

Already a jam packed day, we still had the big event to come, so we wandered back down the hill to get ready. Bang on 6pm we were queued at the door and in we went for a great evening of fund raising, eating, drinking and boot scooting. Mr P and I gave it our best shot, and had a real hoot trying. We were also treated to some more demos from the young ladies. Each of the young people also told their stories about fundraising and awareness raising. It was an inspiring and fun evening, spent in a shearing shed, in the middle of nowhere. And to top it all off, over $7200 was raised from just 90 people, many of whom work on the station. What a great effort by everyone!

While at the event and queued for our dinner we happened to be stood in line with the brother of the station owner. We met their sister, Shelley, last time we were here. She is a lovely, hardworking lady who is the driving force behind the agritourism part of the business. The man we met in the queue now manages the cattle business proper, after his brother, the owner, died in March of this year. The man we met was telling us that his brother would have been thrilled that the event was happening, as all he wanted was to create a venue where people could come together and have a great time. He certainly achieved that and I am sure, if he was looking down, that he would have been very happy.

Sunday morning was a wee bit damp, both inside our leaky camper and outside, but not enough to spoil the fun. Our friends packed Mark and headed off on the trip home, while we enjoyed breakfast at our reignited fire. It rained enough to drip on my head, but not enough to put the fire out! After a hot shower we went for a short walk to the wrecked cars, looking for the little tweeting birds. They move too fast to catch in the camera lens, but the banded lapwing plovers were happy to pose for a picture.

Chased back to the camper in a short shower of rain, we were happy to have a cuppa at the fire before spending the afternoon playing bananagrams and battle blocks. Eventually the cold was too much for us and we decided to build a second fire, in front of Tas to break the southerly wind. What a relief! And what an awesome fire. It also left our 48 hour old bed of coals to cook our spuds for dinner. Tonight we wrapped them in some foil and popped them in a little dip in the coal bed, before covering them with coals. An hour later they were superb. Superb! What a wonderful way to spend an evening, around a gorgeous fire, eating baked potatoes and drinking mulled wine, listening to county music. If only the stars were out. I guess you can’t have it all.

As is the case now, our pack up was relatively quick and we left Mellenbye for this time just on 10 o’clock. We can’t wait to go back and spend more time here. It’s a fabulous spot! If you are looking for a great experience, give it a try. And if you find my little world globe charm from my bracelet, tuck it back under the floor boards in the shearing shed, where it was last seen rolling away to. I love the idea that I’ve left a bit of me at Mellenbye.

Despite leaving on time, we didn’t get far before we stopped to admire the emerging wreath flowers, and a few early paper daises (everlastings). It’s going to be a good season. Back in Maz we headed for Three Springs, a place we have managed to skirt around on more than one occasion. Like most WA towns, it was sleepy, but the visitors centre was open, so we stopped and grabbed some quondong jam, before heading out to have a look at the worlds 2nd largest talc mine. It turned out to be a nice spot to have lunch, and try out out new jam with some cheese, cold meats and a cuppa.

Time to hit the road again, we headed down the highway, making one scheduled stop to look for orchids at Cataby and one unscheduled stop to reattach a hose to the turbo! For a minute there I thought I was going to have to call the RAC again. The whole trip was fabulous and we have now blacked out a few more roads on our map. Now to get ready to go again next week. Maybe we will see you out there??

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