The Green In The Green And Gold of Australia


I was once a camp cook on a cattle drive.

Yes, I was.

I know you’re all sitting there open-mouthed.

I can see the gaping caverns from here.

It was 1991, I was in Australia.

It wasn’t one huge cattle drive covering hundreds of miles and weeks through the Australian outback – women have no business being on those things – but several smaller drives moving cattle around the farmer’s station during the Australian Spring for a week or two at a time.

No amenities, no heat, tents for shelter, horses for transport.

We’d spend days on horseback, sometimes in the truck with calves on the back, urging the cattle on with their cries.

At night we’d pitch tents, get a campfire going, cook a joint of lamb, castrate a few young bulls with a sharp knife and a steady hand.

Just another regular day in the Life of Alison.

When we drove out to the farm shack, can’t really call it a house, for the first night, it was luxurious. There was a roof, a bed of sorts and….an outside dunny.

I got used to keeping my mouth closed while using it.

The flies were HUGE!

It was on a slope so balancing was difficult but balance you did, with all your might, because not to would cause all sorts of problems with no running water to wash yourself.

When out in the Bush, I learned to fry eggs. A spaghetti bolognese that was to die for.

I would cook that spag bol for dinner then reheat it for breakfast.

People loved it.

I learned to cook sausages, bacon, some little biscuit-type things.

And all this over an open fire.

I would have made my den mother proud.

One night I attempted a huge roast joint.

It took for ever. As I turned it over, I dropped it in the fire.

It was almost dark but I brushed it off.

By the time it was cooked, the night was pitch black.

We could have been eating anything because we certainly couldn’t see it.

Any crunchy bits were just part of the outdoor experience.

But the pièce de resistance of one of the most hardcore outdoor experiences of my life was the dunny. Or lack thereof.

When it was time, we took a spade and, if we were lucky, a toilet roll – with strict instructions to use only two squares.

We used leaves otherwise.

Off we went to dig a hole, do our business and cover it up again.

You see, the Australian people are very protective of their awesome country.

They look after it, respect it, jibe anyone who is careless of it.

(And jibing in Australia isn’t usually equivocable.)

They put the land first, their convenience second.

It was refreshing to see that these attitudes were cool.

I liked that.

Australia’s national colors are green and gold.

Australia is the place I first encountered eco-friendly and green practices.

Twenty years ago.

Going green, recycling, environmentally friendly were words and phrases almost unheard of at that time.

And when they did get some attention the mainstream rolled their eyes.

Marginalizing the hippies and tree-huggers considered to be the advocates of such practices.

Today it is very different.

We can learn a lot from the Aussies. The green movement there was  ahead of its’ time.

Other countries are today green with envy.

And have been running to catch up ever since.

What do you do to protect your environment? What have you cooked over an open fire? Have you ever used a dunny with your mouth tightly closed? Let me know in the comments!

I am participating in a Blog Every Day For 30 Days Challenge advocated by Chris Brogan. I am doing this with the lovely Mary Ulrich who writes for Parents and Caregivers of Adults with Disabilities at Climbing Every Mountain. Check her out!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Green Bean
October 10, 2010 at 8:54 am

Who knew!?! Really? Alison on a cattle drive. You continue to surprise me. Re the Australians being green, I have a few Australian friends and my husband travels there quite a bit. I have to agree with you. There are limited resources – water obviously but many more – and they learn to appreciate and conserve.
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Alison Golden October 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm

That surprised you didn’t it? Australia is a place that can only truly be appreciated when you travel by road for hours and hours and don’t see another soul. It is vast. Hostile if due respect isn’t given. And truly awesome and inspiring!


Mary E. Ulrich
October 10, 2010 at 11:42 am

My husband and son did the Boy Scout wilderness camping (er, the shovel and cookiing over the open fire) Me, after a couple camping trips I drew the line–no pits, the toilet must flush. I did love the evening campfires though.
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Alison Golden October 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm


Before I moved to the US, I had this idea that everyone was a hardcore camper. One by one, people have been dispelling that notion. 🙂 And while I don’t mind the lack of amenities, I have noticed that the ground has got harder over the past few years.


Mary E. Ulrich
October 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm

The comment of the ground getting harder is funny–and true. I’m thinking my tent camping days are over. Too many night trips to the restroom.

But, I will always miss the campfires and the glorious sounds of the night.
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..The “R” Word- A Challenge to BloggersMy Profile


Darlene October 10, 2010 at 7:31 pm

You ARE full of surprises.
Camping is something I always wanted to do.
I will give it a try soon.


Alison Golden October 10, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Thanks, Darlene! Yes, get out there and enjoy the countryside. There is no better antidote for our technology based lives we lead theses days. You learn about a lot about yourself too. 🙂


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