Panic set in about three hours into my journey up the coast. Small town Australia scared me. Visions of snakes, spiders, cockroaches and all unpredictable slithery, crawling, flying things began to make me seriously consider the impulse to jump off the bus and get back to civilisation pronto.
But my fears proved unjustified.
Work at the paper has been a great experience so far. Day one gave me a taste of interviewing, news photography and deadlines in a newsroom.
Day two I was dropped in the deep end. A local woman went missing and the disappearance was treated as suspicious.
The chief of staff said: “Go”. I thought, where? “Come back with a picture of this woman, I want to know what she was like, what her friends say, a picture. Go,” he said.
This was followed by countless other requests of differing natures. Not one day has been the same and every day has proved intriguing – from orchids to land claims.
I have interviewed a locksmith who confessed one of his colleagues had his house broken into, talked to 90-year-olds who were obsessed with a model train set, learnt all about orchids, interviewed truck drivers and been yelled at by numerous angry Hervey Bay residents who didn’t take kindly to being approached about a vox pop.
Court reporting proved the biggest challenge – I learnt my lesson: do not go to court if you don’t understand the terminology being used. It leads to utter confusion followed by frustration. All worked out well in the end though. I understand court proceedings now!
And thank god for short hand. There is no way I could have taken proper notes without it. Thank you Julie!
And press conferences. Hmmm. I’m still unconvinced about television reporters…
But I have to say the highlight of the week to date was the rodeo.
If there was one thing I thought I’d never go to it would be a rodeo. Cowboy hats, denim, belt buckles, boots and stubbies reigned supreme.
Oh and the country music inspired some sort of steel-tipped boot tapping around a barnyard. Or something.
The main arena housed countless people who from my point of view all had the same goal in mind. A distinct desire to kill themselves in awful, gory ways.
Crazed looking horses and bulls with intimidating horns bucked and whinnied (not sure if that’s the correct word for the scary noises they made) their way through the day to cheers of mirth from cowboys and girls.
Tempted to scream at various points throughout the day I resisted, but only just, and felt incredibly stupid when upstaged by tiny cowgirls riding round on crazy looking beasts I would be too scared to even get within a foot of.
These cowgirls who would have been only up to my knee not only rode these crazed beasts they whipped them into action and raced around arenas – brave, brave kids.
One ten year old got kicked by a bull and flown to hospital. Brave I tell you.
The editor, who had a broken leg but was dedicated to the cause, made her way round the event in a wheelchair. Our paper did a beef giveaway.
One extremely unlucky cow and one lucky meat-loving reader were introduced. Apparently the prize was about half a cow. The winning family is probably tucking into a hearty meal of poor cow as I write this.
So week one has been great, even though every form of sauvignon blanc has alluded me.