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Lifeline on St. Vigeon’s Station

It’s not that the Northern Territory didn’t have telephones. Darwin and towns like Alice Springs, Katherine, and Mataranka had plenty of them. But not the Outback. Communication

“Just remember, be careful of snakes,” my brother-in-law said over his shoulder as he headed toward the Piper Cub. “The flying docs can’t do much about poisonous bites.”

I stared at the alphabet on the piece of paper I held, wishing he hadn’t mentioned snake bites. Perspiration dripped down my face onto the paper. Wiping it off with my fingers, I dried my hand on my pant leg. At night, for three hours, we turned on the electric generator to operate the fans inside the house and give everyone relief from the hot climate. And to keep our meat supply frozen in the stand-alone freezer. During the day, we simply endured the heat and inevitable prickly heat, a rash, brought on by the hot temperatures.

Coffee’s getting to me I thought, embarrassed by my profuse perspiration even though I stood alone on the veranda. I watched the Piper Cub take off on the dirt runway visible from the house. Or was it my brother-in-law’s parting comment about snake bites that made me sweat?

NOTE: My own photographs of Australia are not only limited, they are the old 35mm film in dismal condition. Consequently, I’m dependent on pictures from the public domain or creative commons.

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