Working and Living in Derby

Well, we are back in sunny Derby for a four week working stint at Derby District High School. We seem to keep gravitating back to this part of the World. This time around, we are not teaching as much as doing IT related work. We love the staff at Derby and always feel welcome and appreciated.

Our second home in the Kimberley is Mt Barnett. We started off this trip by driving into Mt Barnett direct from Perth. It was a long haul of around 2800km with two overnight stops at Newman and Roebuck. By the time we got to Wananami (the school at Mt Barnett), we were just about done in but it was straight into the work and we soon had 4 projectors and interactive white board systems installed and working. This mostly involved drilling and cabling into overhead locations so the shoulder muscles got an extra good workout but the end result was very satisfying. We were not the only visitors in the school. A couple of film makers, Samantha Martin and Michael Butler from SacredOz Productions, were working in the school with a group of children making a wonderful film about life around Mt Barnett. We got on well with them and invited them to stay with us when they got to Derby.
By Saturday morning we were all done and ready to drive back to Derby. Gary and Ethel McKivett were heading out to Manning Pool with their daughter Andrea for a swim so we couldn’t resist the chance to join them in one of the most beautiful places in the whole Kimberley. We have spent many hours over the last 5 years relaxing and soaking in this wonderful location and this trip was no exception. Despite the fact that it is near the end of the Dry Season and the falls have stopped flowing, the water levels and quality was still excellent. We swam, soaked, floated and relaxed.

mess-stick-group.jpgThe trip back to Derby was one of solitude because we drove separate cars, Christine in the Land Cruiser and me driving an old Toyota HiLux belonging to one of the Wananami teachers. She is leaving to head back down South so it had an appointment with the car transporter back in Derby. Thankfully, the air-conditioning still worked.

In Derby, we set up home with our meager possessions in a comfortable house that we had managed to rent through a contact at the school. We prefer to camp but at this time of year an air-conditioner is a must so a house is most welcome. Michael and Samantha soon followed and between us we managed to set up a comfortable establishment. They were looking to stay in Derby for a fortnight for a family funeral so we had a while to get to know this wonderful couple. They are currently travelling Oz in a wonderful old Land Rover called the “Message Stick Vehicle”. This machine is around 50 years old and started life as an army ambulance. Michael has taken it around Australia before, creating documentaries and spreading the knowledge about the indigenous cultures he has encountered. The whole vehicle is covered with a wonderful display of paintings and autographs from an amazing cavalcade of people who have made an impact on our World, including Nelson Mandela.

The days past quickly. We went to work during the day at Derby District High, working in a mostly IT role, with Christine covering a Pre-primary class on Fridays. We would come home to touch base with our house friends in Michael and Samantha and swap many yarns about the wonderful places we have visited. Samantha has an encyclopedic knowledge of Kimberley bush tucker and we shared some of our Kalumburu experiences with her. We found that we had a few friends in common, with Samantha being a Wyndham girl and going to school with some of our Kalumburu friends. With Michael we shared a fascination with electronic gadgetry and the delights of a carton of Tiger Beer. We got together and swapped yarns as they planned a trip from Derby to Phuket in Thailand. We had a terrific time together and will miss them dearly as they head off on the next phase of their journey. We felt that our time together was a true sharing of knowledge, that we both learnt an enormous amount from each other. I am sure our paths will cross again sometime soon.
Meanwhile, we have loved catching up with our great friends in Derby, the Thorsby Family. Chris Thorsby and I have been fully occupied with a mechanical project of immense proportions as we strive to fit “cruise control” to our 80 Series Land Cruiser. I bought a DIY kit on eBay, knowing full well that it would probably turn into a saga but that Chris would rise to the occasion. We have spent many an evening under the car finding just the right spot for the magnetic sender or finding the best way to route the network of wires behind paneling or under carpet. Any day now, the project will come to a head. We will prevail.

The work is wonderful, the weather is excellent and we are thoroughly enjoying our time in Derby. We will have to see what the next two weeks bring.