Leaving Koramba Cotton Farm

They say all good things must come to an end.

Well, this experience at Koramba Cotton Farm has been a good thing and it’s also at an end.

The dawn is just starting to break on our last day here.

After 7 weeks the final day has sort of snuck up on us and apart from a few little tidy up jobs the task today is to strip down the annex and pack up the van in readiness for our departure early tomorrow morning.

Jacquie the cook has returned from her holiday to find her kitchen “reborn”. Martyn, our boss, got her to return a week early so we could retrain her on the new equipment and the new system of running things that we’ve put into place.

We’ve no idea what will happen in the near future but we know we are leaving a much better kitchen and a more efficient system behind and that everything is now in place to provide well for the farm’s catering needs. We believe the place is better for us being here and we know we’ve done our best at all times.

It seems strange to be awake at 3:30am and not need to go over to the kitchen to start cooking breakfast. Jacque officially takes over full time today and I’m just going over later to make sure everything’s ok and to load the new stocktake spreadsheets onto her computer.

Martyn has hired another lady to work partly in the kitchen to assist Jacquie and partly in the camp area cleaning. She’ll live on camp and she arrived yesterday so Kerrie is going over at 6:30am to show her what to do for a couple of hours.

Kerrie has been the main reason for the success we have experienced here over the last seven weeks.

She has never once whined or complained about the sometimes ordinary conditions here. She has taken all the residents to heart and treats them like they were her kids even to the point of a slap now and again when they get cheeky. She makes every person feel welcome into the dining room and never ceases her high energy output of work.

Many are the details she remembers and without needing or looking for thanks she brings all those details together even when her back is wracked with pain and every bone in her body is protesting.

Her “No Nonsense” straight shooting way has endeared her to everyone on the camp. This always happens with Kerrie. People are wary at first of her seemingly abrupt nature but after a very short time that absolute commitment to others, with her own needs shoved way into the background, endears people to her and they seem to reverse their early wariness and begin to enjoy the straight talking no BS Kerrie.

I can’t help it, I just love her more each and every day and I realise how totally hopeless I am without her. She seems to take my inadequacies
and my amateurism and mould it into something useful and usable. No man ever had a better companion, friend, lover and helpmate.

We have achieved a lot in seven weeks and it feels good to look back on it now. The residents were still making last minute attempts last night to get us to stay and it was quite heart warming to hear their comments as we presented them with the last meal we would prepare here.

What has made the experience so good for us?

The country style “no nonsense” has definitely contributed. The lack of ridiculously over the top health and safety regulations where responsibility for safety and well being still belongs to each individual is refreshing. The farm still prides itself on being a safe place to work but without the stupidity associated with safety prevalent at other places.

They have no time for slackers out here. That’s also refreshing. Don’t do the work properly out here; don’t have a job – simple. Idiots, useless employees and those that can’t produce a meaningful result are not tolerated and are sent packing, unlike the penchant for large organisations to keep useless employees forever because they’re too scared to tell them the truth and cut them loose.

Productivity is everything. The farm doesn’t produce cotton it goes broke.

Innovation and compromise is everywhere. Much of it is gained from the experience of working with heavy machinery and needing to produce something far away from readily available spare parts or material.

The “bigness” of everything is fascinating. The distances, the size of the property, the sheds, the machines, the water reservoirs; everything’s big. We love it.

The fast moving people we love. Nobody drags their feet. The managers and supervisors in particular can do a number of things at once and while almost without exception they love a chat but seem to achieve so much with their time. Few complain about long hours of work, it’s just an accepted part of farm life. Nothing will ever get done around here without someone doing some hard work.

The stars at night are also an unforgettable part of Koramba. The crisp dark nights are always ablaze with stars and also the night’s absolute silence we will miss.

But, most of all we will miss the people!

The whole bunch we’ve had the privilege of working with out here have been wonderful.

A few of Koramba's wonderful people

A few of Koramba’s wonderful people

Apart from the residents living on camp, who are mostly younger people, we have also developed a liking and a respect for the farm’s managers. Daryl is quietly spoken with an obvious passion for the farm and a lifetime of experience. He was the one who told us we were welcome to go anywhere we liked on the property and he’s been supportive of all we’ve tried to do.

Dave is a 61 year that easily outworks the young men under his control. We see him as the “Make stuff happen” kind of bloke. He’s the one they call when something needs doing. He looks like a wild man and I’m sure he is to an extent but there’s also a strange softer side to him that you can see coming out at times.

But of all the interactions we’ve had here with the people, I guess the most satisfying has been the pleasure we’ve had in working for Martyn Morrissey.

A young business man who is in total control of his business, he is the kind of go getter that I love to associate with. With no BS in him and intolerance for ineptitude he is perhaps the most refreshing and satisfying employer we’ve had in a long time, possibly even ever.

He has been absolutely behind us with all the suggestions we’ve made and he has put a damn lot of trust in two people that he hardly knows. He’s put us in charge of spending about $15,000  of his own money with almost no control, setting up supplier accounts in his name and many other things. I hope he realises the fondness and respect we hold for him and we dearly want him to succeed in the catering out here.

So here we are just about to pack up the Aussie Wide once again and head to Brisbane very early in the morning with a stop off at Martyn’s place in Goondiwindi on the way to finalise all finances and then it’s on to Alice Springs and the Sandrifter Tours.

What an amazing, wonderful, rewarding life we are blessed with.