Posted in Animals and conservation, Other stuff

Who cares about this cute horse?

I’ve been working in the remote mid-west Queensland town of Dingo for over six months. During that time I walk regularly with my workmates and we know the few streets of Dingo well. There’s not much more than a pub (of course), school, library, tennis court, church, run-down caravan park and a couple of saw mills, all set in about eight blocks. There’s nice houses and neglected houses but in general I like the little town. It can’t be helped that the coal train runs through it, or that it is the hub of the mining industry at the moment.

However, it can help one starved and neglected horse but for some reason the people of Dingo have chosen to ignore something in their own backyard. We’ve fed the horse (we call him Billy, after Billy Slater) grass that we’ve pulled out as we’ve walked. We wondered if he was being looked after as his paddock was looking a little bare. We decided to keep an eye on him. Every two weeks (that I worked) I would visit Billy. This last stint I became increasingly concerned. A workmate had contacted the RSPCA weeks before but Billy still looked to be unfed and his water troughs were nearly empty and the water stagnant.

This time as I walked past him he was more skittish than usual. I pulled out heaps of grass and put it in his feed trough. He head-butted it nearly knocking the steel fence down. He stamped his hoof on the ground and whinnied and scoffed down the little grass I could find.

Back at camp I spoke to our chef Cathy who suggested that we save vegetable and fruit scraps for Billy and take water to him. So that afternoon we pulled up in our ute and he whinnied again when he saw the food we were putting in the food bin. He scoffed it and gradually let us pat him. Billy’s ribs show and the bones in his neck poke out. He is ungroomed and his mane and tail are matted. His hoofs look split and his beautiful eyes are full of gunk. There is not a blade of grass in his paddock and now stable for shelter. No water and no food. How could someone treat an animal like this? How can a town just ignore this gorgeous creature?

Next day we pulled up again. This time he stamped the ground and whinnied. He was definitely excited to see us. When I got back to camp I rang the RSPCA and reported the cruelty. There was still no sign of any other food or water. They said they would check Billy out.

Cathy feeding a very grateful Billy. Notice how there is not a blade of glass in his paddock and no shelter from a storm.

The next day the water trough was full of fresh water. We couldn’t see signs of food but Billy would have eaten every crumb. We fed him for two more days. Each time we pulled up he got more excited and would now let us pet him without even shying away.

I heard this week that the people who own Billy are in the house next door. Can you believe that? They have totally ignored his suffering. Billy is a beautiful gentle horse who someone would truly love. These people don’t deserve him and hopefully the RSPCA will relocate him to somewhere nice where he is appreciated.

Here’s to you Billy and the next stage of a happier healthier life.

PLEASE NOTE: RSPCA responds to reports of all cruelty, neglect and abandonment complaints of companion and farm animals, as well as injuries to wildlife. Last year Inspectors investigated nearly 14,000 cruelty complaints, and nearly 8,000 wildlife patients were admitted to the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital. To support them please see their website

Posted in Family life, Other stuff

Anzac Day in a sleepy Aussie town

I’m feeling very homesick as I watch the dawn service for Anzac Day on Channel 7. It’s at Currumbin’s Elephant Rock which is my home and to see so many people attending that special service makes my heart ache. Tears are near as I listen to the bagpipes and watch the sun slowly creep through the clouds behind the rock as thousands mill around on the sand, along the pavement and up the hills to pay their respects.

I’m not there this year because I’m still working remotely and happen to be in mid-west Queensland. The town of Dingo is nearly smaller than the roadhouse that sits on the Capricorn Hwy on the other side of the coal-train railway line. Four of us leave camp and drive to the Dingo dawn service, nearly collecting a kangaroo as we head out on the dirt road of only about 200m to the highway. It’s a quick drive, less than a K and we are in Dingo. As we park we notice no more than thirty people in front of the stone memorial across from the heritage Library.

There are two spotlights over the memorial and a wobbly table in front with amplifies and a mic. On a bench sits an elderly woman and two boys around 12 year’s old. One has bare feet and he swings them under the bench as he waits for his turn to speak. He won’t have to wait long. The MC thanks everyone for attending and talks about Anzac spirit. The lady then reads a prayer that we barely hear because the microphone has stopped working. Then the two boys from the local school read a poem. Again we can’t hear it because the microphone isn’t working but maybe we wouldn’t want to as one of the boys can barely read. Gotta give him credit for giving it a go and when they are finished an elderly man pats him on the back and says, “Good job.” Obviously this was some achievement for this young bloke and he did his town proud by attempting to speak on Anzac Day.

There are only two service men in berets. One speaks and they both lay wreaths. Then the bugle sounds via a recording and my heart constricts the way it always does when I hear the haunting sound on Anzac Day. Finally as the National Anthem plays (no not sung by a locacl school child as you’d expect but again a recording) the flag that sat at half mast is raised. The MC announces the end of the ceremony and thanks us for our attendance. The sun hasn’t even risen so it isn’t even dawn (new meaning to ‘dawn service’).

We look around baffled. A ten minute service – who woulda thought.

So, we return to camp and I’m happy to watch the Currumbin service and think of all the people I know who’ll be there, particularly my sons. I look for them in the crowd but of course there are too many people and I can’t see them. I’m awash with memories of previous cold mornings standing in wet sand watching solemn faces and enjoying the feeling of ‘one’ amongst those who have come to show their respects. I miss the smell of the ocean but am glad I attended the country Dingo service and know that no matter where we are on Anzac Day we can pay our respects to the fallen and those who are serving our country today.

This year is special too because last year Kris (step-son) was still in Afghanistan serving with the Australian Army. Last year Bevil (husband) and I cried buckets in Currumbin and could barely see the slideshow screen because of the tears. We didn’t rest until Kris came home. He’s home this year with his lovely wife Elise. He’s probably marching in Brisbane later today. So though I can’t raise a glass and have a drink to you, Kris, I did pay my resects and the most repected Anzac to me is you.

Lest we forget.

Dingo, Australia at dawn Anzac Day Wednesday 25th April 2012.