2013, People, Stories and Articles

John Scott, Roebuck Plains, Broome, WA

“…It’s been fun and games, enjoyable.”

On Wednesday July 4 2012 Lyle and Helen pulled into Roebuck Plains Station and discovered that it was a very significant day for John Scott; a man we’d had the privilege to meet and greet over a 10 year period. For this bore runner and experienced bushman it was his final day of work at Roebuck Plains. He was packed up and ready to leave very early the next morning. It was an emotional time…….. he’d told manager Doug Miller, “When I drive out, I won’t look back.”

It’s a long, long journey from Roebuck Plains near Broome WA to his son Damian’s property at Gloucester on the NSW coast, and John was looking forward to being with his wife Kerry. However, there was a tangible sadness in the air. “I really love the Kimberleys” he says quietly with a crooked grin. “You either love it or you don’t, and I just love it, you know.”

Born in 1938.…. “Yes, I AM proud of my age,” he left school and “went droving, and working here and there, doing a bit of everything really.” A self taught rider, he got into horses and roping and instigated by Ronnie Bostock, John followed the rodeo circuit to Mt Isa and Mareeba QLD. The characteristic wide grin returns and he adds, “It was great!”

The grin may have something to so with one of the nicknames that John has acquired in the time that he’s worked his way around the Top End. He answers happily to Scotty, Ghecko and Grumblebum, and there are probably more!

During those early years life revolved around station work in the Mackay and Sarina areas; then for a bit of an adventurous change, John went buffalo shooting around Darwin. In addition he met and married Kerry and the couple are extremely proud of their three children, Damian, Just and Hope, and their six grandchildren.

Significantly, his initiation to the Kimberley region of W.A began at Kimberley Downs Station followed by time at Louisa Downs, Napier Downs. “Those were beautiful days when we first came over here,” John remembers; “we’d camp out on the run and after a muster we’d come home, and the billies would be boiling. The Aboriginal women would cook the meals, including bread. They were really good days I reckon….. mainly indigenous stockmen….. good men.” Justin and Hope, and their six grandchildren.

Ten years ago, John “retired” from stock work and started work as a bore runner; first at Liveringa near Derby, and latterly at Roebuck Plains. Forever a cheerful optimist, he describes bore running as “the best job!” He also spent two years in another “good job” at Mowanjum, near Derby. Unlike many older workers on cattle stations, Ghecko has always mixed in with the young ones. Full of fun, he has teased and joked his way through countless mealtimes, consistently modelling resilience and a positive attitude.

It’s probably also inevitable that “older workers” have a tendency to hark back to the “good old, bad old days,” and believe it or not, young invincible people reading about the likes of John Scott will one day, a day that comes quicker than they think, refer back to the “good old bad old days of 2012!” On the eve of his departure the main piece of advice that Scotty has been giving the young trainees at Roebuck Plains may sound more like a command. It’s very likely something that on more than one occasion they’ve heard from the older man the affectionately refer to as uncle, or the old fella. It’s an emphatic “Keep out of trouble!”

Anyone who’s spent time with John Scott would have enjoyed the fun and games he characteristically carries with him, like a well worn hat. A fitting description for this likeable bush gentleman has already been penned. “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.”

Some of John’s thoughts, memories, regrets and joys have found expression in his conversation; his determination to be positively reflected in the summary of his life, spent in the bush. “I get a lot out of life; I try to anyway. I always say the bush is better than the city any day, but anyway, a change is as good as a holiday and I’ve met some good people….. It’s unreal….. I’ve put in some hard yards; camping out….. It’s what’s stuck me together. It’s been fun and games, enjoyable!”

Image caption:

1) John with his daughter, Hope.