Susie Sarah

Living In Tongala- Susie Sarah

We are like the song by Alan Jackson ‘Little Bittie’ travelling in a yellow bus. This is our third move and we tend to stay for a few years in each location to really get a feel for the area.

My cousin found me a job in Kyabram at a milk factory and we settled here for some time. It is close to all the rivers Blokie loves to fish but sadly we have seen the drought put stress on the rivers then the floods again damage them with black water.

When I first arrived the bushfires were burning fiercely and the paddocks were dustbowls. The poor farmers were again doing it tough and then it started to rain. It was amazing to see the country come to life. Working at a milk factory gave me an awareness of the plight of the dairy industry. The farming family who set it up to package their own A2 milk were very innovative, and now today are going from strength to strength. I loved working there and felt proud of what they achieved.

We enjoy living in a small community. Tongala has everything we need- and the library and community center are terrific resources. We shop here, there is a good doctor and chemist and the mechanic has kept our car on the go.

Last year Blokie convinced me that retirement was a great option and that I needed to get serious about my writing. I did a course at the community center which gave me heaps of confidence and then set about self-publishing my first book. I needed an illustrator and again Blokie suggested I chat to the local baker Richard Herbert who just happened to be an artist. Things then went ahead in leaps and bounds. We even selected a local printer who did a wonderful job.

Thanks to Linda and the library we had a great venue to launch the book and she continued to support and encourage me, and still is helping me become more professional. The local Bendigo Bank helped us out as they seem to do with many local causes- we in turn support them by banking with them. The Mayor of the shire opened the book launch and was a wonderful speaker.

I was stunned by the local support for my book when you consider how hard it has been here for our farmers. We understood how they needed to have a night out and made sure families could attend the book launch. With so many struggles we felt it important to do some celebrating.

We had a full on week visiting schools reading the story and chatting with the children. They really relate to uplifting stories and I feel children in the bush need positive literature when so much sadness and often terrible upheavals have been the norm. Its rather amazing when kids come up to meet me in the street and say Hi- they are so resilient and confident.

One of my workmates was a young farmers wife- they had a small struggling dairy farm and had to supplement the farm income by working off the farm- all this plus raising little kids. They were drowning in debt and I think still are. With her encouragement I used her selection for my first book- she was so helpful while suffering from fear, depression and extreme tiredness trying to keep her family solvent.

I will continue to write stories about the bush and rural areas in the hope that the city millions accept that our Aussie bush culture is an important part of our heritage.

By Susie Sarah

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