In the two-plus years that we have been living on the road, we have done numerous, very diverse, housesitting jobs.
However, nothing could have prepared us for what happened at a farm sit in Denmark WA on August 14th.
It was a challenging but interesting job right from the start, as our “induction was not with the owners, but by a friend of theirs. The fantastic caretaker, John, had not gotten much instruction either, so once he left, there was a lot of ‘making-it-up-as-we-went-along.” Our main duties were to look after a handful of farm animals, some semi-tame parrots and kangaroos and also to look after their holiday cottages on the property.
The weather was pretty atrocious, cold, windy and rainy in a house that was very difficult to heat. To make matters worse, the plumbing and electricity were temperamental, so we had our work cut out for us.
However, the scenery from the house was idyllic and we could spread out in relative comfort.
And there was lots of sightseeing to do. The whole area abounds in natural beauty and dramatic coastline, alongside a warm and wonderful community.
We had parrots and other birds eating right from our hands
and more than once, we had a kangaroo come into the house, with her young joey, demanding food.
Denmark had most everything we needed, and the big regional centre of Albany was close by.
Then, halfway through our ‘gig,’ something happened that shocked the beejeezus out of us, our friends and family and the community.
While collecting rubbish from the holiday rentals on the property, I was savagely attacked by a semi-tame, male kangaroo named Lucky. We don’t know why he suddenly became so violent, but he had been getting steadily more aggressive in his behaviour. This was the first time he had encountered me on my own. I was alone on the farm – no one within earshot.
I was able to get away from him during a sustained attack in which I firmly believe he wanted to kill me. He moved away when I got in a few whacks with an iron bar, but he didn’t move far. Badly wounded and fighting the effects of shock, I had to retrieve my phone and barricade myself in a sheep pen to ring emergency services. The St John’s operator stayed on the phone with me while her co-worker contacted Rod, who arrived right on the heels of the ambulance.
First, I was taken to Denmark hospital, but they could do little besides administer pain relief and warn Albany hospital that I was coming.
I sustained massive bruising and multiple cuts, mostly on my upper chest and arms. Several deep gashes required internal stitching and externally, I had sixty-one staples holding me together. My wedding ring finger was badly fractured, eventually wired together in an attempt to retain some mobility in the joint, although the likelihood is that it will eventually be fused and unable to bend.
I was at Albany Regional Hospital for 6 nights, where I was treated with professional, but very personal care (even though the hospital was full to bursting).
The food wasn’t even half bad, cooked on the premises with actual real ingredients, unlike most hospital food I had experienced.
I had a private room, my pain was managed exceptionally well, infection (a real danger in a wild animal attack) was evaded and I had trauma support from hospital mental health professionals.
The animal was destroyed shortly after it happened. Rod said the whole energy of the property changed in an instant. Because Lucky’s behaviour had become even more aggressive after the attack, I was quite stressed and worried for Rod’s safety until I heard the ranger had come to put him down (the ‘roo, not Rod).
We stayed on at the property after I got discharged. The weather was still pretty awful, so living in the caravan did not appeal and I wanted to remain in the area for follow-up treatments. Plus, we had made a commitment to look after the farm and the business. Even after all that had happened, we still wanted to finish the job we promised to do.
Rod was absolutely amazing. It was all quite traumatic for him, too, but he didn’t have medical professionals brandishing pain meds and sleeping tablets at all hours of the day and night. He drove the 90 kms to Albany every day, bringing me all the comforts of home that I wanted, participating in my health care regime and keeping my spirits up.
The local community was also very supportive, offering a variety of practical and emotional support.
We were even “shouted” some free luxury accommodation to finish off our last few nights in Denmark. Nothing like a game of pool and a spa bath in a natural setting to soothe the psyche.
Apart from that little hiccup, it was great being able to explore the South Coast area of WA. We stayed around in the general area for a few more weeks, but it was almost getting to be time for some new chapters.