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CARMEL ROWLEY Book one of the “As The Crow Flies” series Cover artwork and illustrations by Willa Frayser


Published by Pearsons View Publishing 2010 CopyrightŠ Carmel Rowley 2010 Edited by Page One Editing and Publishing, Toowoomba, www.editpageone.com.au Layout and cover design by Nine Lives Studio, Toowoomba, ninelivestudio@aapt.net.au Cover artwork and drawings by Willa Frayser Studio Equine Artist: www.willafrayserstudio.com Printed by Griffin Press ISBN 978-0-9808249-1-9 A copy of this publication can be found in the National Library of Australia. Every reasonable effort has been made to contact copyright holders of material reproduced in this book. If any have been inadvertently overlooked, the publishers would be glad to hear from them and make good in future editions any errors or omissions brought to their attention. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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Without his ideas and suggestions Danika and Yatimah would not exist.

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The idea to write a children’s book about a family on a cattle station in the channel country began as several short stories. The characters are set in a harsh area of Australia associated with some fascinating history, perfect to weave story lines around. I wish to thank several people who have assisted me to bring Danika and Yatimah to life. Thanks to Willa Frayser for her wonderful front cover and illustrations; Yatimah is exactly the way I thought her to be. Thank you to Robyne Matthews for her talented design skills and the drawing of ‘Dalry’ on the back cover, it fitted the theme perfectly. Thanks must also go to Angela Shipley for her advice around character development and behaviour. Also thank you to Wendy Richards for her final edit. Lastly I thank my beloved mare Simeon Sarah, for the joy she has brought into my life. Even at thirty-one she is still youthful and incredibly beautiful. She will live on forever as my Yatimah.

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CHAPTER ....................................................... PAGE 1...................Sad Parting .......................................... 1 2 ..................Outback Holidays .............................. 4 3 ..................The Arrival ........................................ 16 4 ..................Stranded ............................................ 20 5................... New Sights ....................................... 23 6 ..................Trouble Building .............................. 28 7 ..................Time to Fly ........................................ 32 8................... Happy Ending ................................. 38 9................... Plans Change ................................... 42 10.................Cattle Duffers ................................... 50 11.................The Search Begins ............................ 56 12 ................On the Road Again .......................... 63 13 ................Found ................................................. 71 14.................She’s My Horse ................................ 76 15 ................Camp at Last ..................................... 83 16 ................Missing .............................................. 86 17................. As the Crow Flies ............................ 90 18 ................Straight for the Rock ........................ 93 19 ................A Special Parade ............................ 102 20 ................Jodie Arrives ................................... 106 21 ................Trouble ............................................ 111 22................. Final Storm ..................................... 120 23 ................A Final Lesson ................................ 133 iv


Page vii - This time Yatimah stood in a yard beside the Bedourie hotel. Page 35 -“Like shadows they galloped and galloped” Page 75 - “The prospector riding one of the camels halted...” Page 101 - Ishara soon returned with a shy newborn camel calf Page 129 - “...a mob of kangaroos bounded across their path and Yatimah took it upon herself to follow.” Page 140 - Danika thought she was one of the luckiest people in the whole world to own such a beautiful and brave horse

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Arabian horses ..........................................................I The Channel Country ............................................ V The Min Min .........................................................VII The Lasseter Mystery......................................... VIII Afghans in Australia ...............................................X Aboriginal stories ............................................... XIII Bedourie, Queensland .........................................XV Boulia, Queensland ............................................ XVI Birdsville, Queensland ..................................... XVII Author’s Note ...................................................XVIII About the Author ................................................XIX

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This time Yatimah stood in a yard beside the Bedourie hotel

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Outback Bedourie is a long way from Egypt. The white Arabian mare waited patiently. She was now resigned to her endless journey and stared suspiciously at her surroundings. This time Yatimah stood in a cattle-holding yard beside the Bedourie hotel. A light fleck of sweat spread across her chest, a combination of anxiety and the searing heat. As the afternoon breeze gained momentum, it cooled her tired body. Her limbs were stiff but she had no inclination to move. Instead, she gazed around, her short, sharp ears constantly flicking at the annoying flies. She was used to flies but not the travelling. On her long voyage from Egypt to Australia, she had been aboard every mode of transport imaginable, the longest being a ship. Her memory of being hoisted high in the air then set 1


Danika & Yatimah down aboard a massive liner made her shiver. Yatimah had called for Hasan, her friend and handler. He had reared her from a foal when her dam died. They all believed Yatimah would die but Hasan had saved her. He fed her, brushed her and, when she was old enough, taught her to eat the alfalfa hay fed to the horses twice a day. Hasan named her Yatimah, which in Arabic means ‘orphan’. She wished he were here now. Every day he would place his reassuring hands on her neck and croon little poems about her beauty. It had rained the day she left Egypt but when she gazed upwards Yatimah realised the droplets were not coming from the sky. They were tears from Hasan’s eyes. Instinctively, Yatimah knew she would not see Hasan again. Slowly, her sadness passed to become resignation and now all she felt was anxiety, tempered by curiosity. Each time she moved the dust swirled around her hooves, causing her to snort as the particles tickled her delicate nostrils. She watched the locals filling their cars at the petrol bowsers outside the hotel. Several wandered over to the fence, stared at her, then shrugged their shoulders before wandering off. Bedourie was so different from Cairo, no rushing buses and cars, no angry blasting of horns. Instead, 2


Carmel Rowley there was silence with occasional flocks of pink and grey galahs swooping down from the endless blue sky, giving a shrill squawking cry. The countryside appeared to smile and the breeze whispered approval at its latest inhabitant. Yatimah rested a hind leg and closed her eyes.

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‘Don’t you just love summer holidays?’ Danika said, stretching out on the loose hay spread around the loft above the stables. It was the long summer break and Danika’s parents had given permission for her school friends, Julia and Jennifer, to stay at the family station, ‘Dalry’, for the last three weeks of vacation. Dalry Station took its name from a place in Scotland where Danika’s great-great-grandmother was born. The property was situated on the road to Birdsville and Longreach, via Windorah, in western Queensland. Some of the great outback stations were not measured in acres but square miles and often they were as large as small European countries. Dalry was a one hundred and sixty-eight thousand acre cattle property. 4


Carmel Rowley Danika’s best friend Jasmin lived on the station next door and, like Danika, she loved horses. She owned her own purebred Arabian gelding, called Pharaoh. Dalry was Jasmin’s second home, a haven for her to escape her three motorbike-crazy brothers. ‘I would love to have a brother’, Danika dreamily told her friend. Jasmin just laughed and invited her to come and stay at her house for a weekend. After two of the noisiest days of Danika’s life, Jasmin smiled and nodded knowingly. With ears still ringing from the racket, Danika declared she had changed her mind. She didn’t need a brother. ‘Now you know why I’m always at Dalry’, Jasmin teased. It was the best holiday Jennifer and Julia could remember. So many things happened at Dalry. The cattle dog had adorable six-week-old puppies who dashed about ready to chew on fingers or even an ear when they were being cuddled. Even though the girls were visitors, they were expected to help with the daily jobs. There were feeds to be mixed for the horses and every day the horse manure was picked up from the yards. Chickens needed to be fed and their eggs collected, before cleaning the coop and renewing the water. At home, they probably would have disliked all 5


Danika & Yatimah the work, but at Dalry it was fun. Danika’s father Rob – they called him Mr R – laughed and teased them all the time, while Grace, Danika’s mother, smiled at them as if they were as adorable as the puppies. The one thing at Dalry the girls loved the most was Yatimah, Danika’s purebred Arabian mare. Her smooth, short coat was silky smooth to stroke and her colour resembled an Iceberg rose. She combining the gentleness and grace her breed was renowned for. Yatimah wove her magic around every person who knew her. Danika especially adored the way she would raise her head at the sound of her voice and nicker softly through flared nostrils, welcoming her with her pointed ears forward. At some stage during each day, Julia would sit with her sketchpad on her knees, drawing Yatimah’s large dark eyes and chiselled dished face. Jennifer and Jasmin sat quietly behind, watching Julia’s pencil fly across the paper. They were amazed to see, in a flurry of lines and shading, a perfect likeness of Yatimah staring back at them. ‘How do you do that?’ Jen would ask, then sigh. ‘I wish I could draw.’ Although Mr R was busy around the station all day, at night instead of watching television, he would bring out the family photographs and tell 6


Carmel Rowley the enthralled girls stories of the outback. The photograph albums were made from beautifully tooled leather and full of black and white images. Often, in the photographs, there was a dog, cat or horse whose name they read on the headstones in the pet cemetery behind the house. Their favourite story was about the cameleers, the Afghan camel drivers and their ‘ships of the desert’. Julia and Jen were surprised to learn how Mr Clarey, a family friend, left his two camels, Saudi and Sahara, permanently at Dalry. At first, the girls were afraid of feeding such tall, imposing animals. But it wasn’t long before they realised both animals were more talk than action and laughed loudly at the way they moaned and groaned about everything done to them. They towered threateningly over the girls, rolling their eyes as they peeled back their lips, showing yellow, uneven teeth. Danika’s father knew the family history by heart and they would curl up on the couch in the lounge room and listen to his stories and explanations about how important camels were to the outback settlers and the explorers. ‘During the 1800s, explorers, settlers and prospectors desperately wanted to unlock the mystery of inland Australia’, Danika’s father said. ‘In those days, horses and bullocks were mainly used to carry supplies. The problem was 7


Danika & Yatimah the outback heat. Explorers needed to constantly search for water and the extra time spent hunting out water exhausted the animals. An alternative was desperately needed.’ ‘I wish I could have seen them. The photographs are fantastic’, said Jas. ‘The camels were the perfect solution to the problem of transporting goods. For a short time, from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, the cameleers carted supplies, tools, mail and even water to the remote settlements. The camels were also vital in building the overland telegraph and the transAustralian railway.’ ‘I had no idea they were so important’, said Julia. ‘Just imagine a long line of camels transporting all that equipment.’ The girls went to sleep dreaming of camel trains and their exotic Afghan cameleers. Due to the ongoing drought, the young heifers were fed hay every second day. On these days it was the girls’ job to help Mr R feed out the hay. Jasmin was chosen to toss the bales from the top of the haystack down onto the trailer. ‘Watch out below’, she warned, just missing Danika as the bales tumbled down, bouncing as they struck their mark. The girls stumbled around the trailer, laughing when their feet slipped 8


Carmel Rowley between the spaces of stacked bales. Once thirty bales were loaded, Mr R would drive the tractor and the girls enjoyed a hayride to the paddock. The mob of heifers greeted them with loud bellows. ‘Jas, you cut the strings and we can all feed out the biscuits’, Danika instructed. ‘Don’t forg…’ ‘I know, make sure we collect all the strings and tie them to the front of the trailer’, Jas recited. By this time, the girls were laughing hysterically at the silly heifers running along beside the trailer, bucking with excitement and butting each other in the rush to eat the hay. The girls were nicknamed the DJs. Other than Danika, they all had names beginning with a J. Mr R said they were just like a DJ on the radio—they talked all the time without drawing breath. ‘You sound like the family of magpies who lived in the back garden’, he teased. The tree was a ficus and it was huge. Halfway up the tree, Danika’s great-grandfather had built his children an enchanted tree house and just below its sweeping branches lay the animal cemetery. All the dogs, cats, birds and favourite horses had headstones with their name, birth date and the date they died. It was a place full of memories. After seeing the family photographs, they were amazed how some of the animals had lived before the First World 9


Danika & Yatimah War. Most days, when all the jobs were finished, Grace, Danika’s mother, would pack the girls a picnic lunch and they would ride out to the old windmill and eat their sandwiches in the ruins of Danika’s great-great-grandfather’s original homestead. The house fascinated the girls. Its original construction was nothing more than a sturdily built tin hut with verandas. Later, as the decades passed and raising cattle became prosperous, more rooms were added. The family grew and eventually a large new homestead was built near permanent water. Danika’s grandfather and her father were born in the new Dalry quarters. The girls cantered across the paddocks. The horses’ hooves kicked up the red dirt, leaving a trail of dust in their wake. The wind rushed past their faces as they enjoyed the easy stride of their surefooted mounts. Once out of the smaller, fenced home paddocks the land stretched for kilometres across endless red dirt plains. The countryside was tinder dry but even the worry of drought couldn’t dampen their high spirits. They grinned across at one another. There was nothing better than riding their favourite horses out in the open spaces. It took about thirty minutes of steady riding to reach the windmill. Today Danika’s mother had packed a book for them to 10


Carmel Rowley read. She said it contained wonderful legends and poetry about Arabian horses that they might like to read it as they ate their sandwiches. Reining in the horses, the four girls slid from their saddles. Danika pulled the saddlebags containing the picnic from Yatimah’s back, then turned her loose with the other horses in a makeshift yard beside the windmill. Although all the girls lived on stations, their lives were never this free. They loved Danika’s easygoing parents, who passed onto their daughter a sense of independence and responsibility. Carrying their picnic into the derelict house, they spread a blanket on the dusty floor then pulled up a few old boxes and broken, backless chairs. Immediately, they began to talk horses. Danika took out their lunch and the book, sitting everything on the box they had set up as a table. Julia was the first to open the book. ‘Can you believe that Arabian foals were so precious to the Bedouin that they were born and brought up in their tents’, Julia said, as she read aloud. ‘The mares were especially prized. The poetry describes how the Arabian mare was like a gazelle, with firmly knit muscles and nimble movement and light lower limbs.’ ‘It sounds just like Yatimah’, said Jen. ‘They also say that, if you only see the outer 11


Danika & Yatimah beauty of an Arabian horse, the true beauty is hidden from you.’ ‘That probably means the way Arabian horses relate to people, their willingness to love and please us’, Danika suggested and handed around their lunch. The four girls sat, thoughtful, as they ate their delicious banana, walnut and honey sandwiches. They licked their fingers before tucking into a chocolate muffin. ‘I love these muffins’, declared Jen. The others laughed; she said the same thing every time she ate a cake or biscuit. Their minds were full of frisky, prancing mares bravely galloping into battle. Once lunch was finished, they stretched out on the rug, reading excerpts from the book. ‘My favourite legend is how the Arabian horse was created,’ Jasmin prompted, ‘and how God took a handful of the south wind, blowing it into life.’ ‘Why was it the south wind?’ Julia asked. ‘Because the south wind is the searing hot wind of the desert, like our north wind, the one that’s so dangerous in summer’, Jen replied. ‘Maybe it’s why Arabian horses are so hot blooded. They were born of the hot south wind’, Julia pondered, as they smiled indulgently at her logic. ‘Danika knows the legend off by heart’, Jasmin added. She was proud of her best friend’s ability 12


Carmel Rowley to remember everything she read. ‘Dani learnt the whole story to welcome Yatimah to Dalry. I’ll never forget that day.’ Danika sat up and crossed her legs, resting her elbows on her knees. She also loved that legend. ‘My very favourite part is when the Arabian horse was told he could fly without wings’, she said. ‘Can you imagine?’ Julia and Jennifer wrapped their arms around their legs, waiting expectantly. They hoped Danika might tell them the story of how Yatimah came to live at Dalry. Already Danika had told them that Yatimah meant ‘orphan’. The only reason her breeders in Egypt had sold her to Danika’s parents was that they considered her far too small and insignificant to breed with. Since Yatimah had arrived at Dalry, she had proved that being small was no handicap at all. To the onlooker, her conformation may have appeared slight but her stature never prevented her from being the fastest, the smartest and the trustworthy horse on Dalry. The girls had studied Arabian horse conformation with Mrs G and knew Yatimah was nearly perfect. She possessed all her desired breed characteristics: a strong, balanced body and a tail thrown high like an arch from an ample hindquarter. Her neck curved like a palm branch from a clearly defined shoulder, sitting at an angle 13


Danika & Yatimah of forty-five degrees. Her legs were of medium length, her girth deep and her hoofs were like round polished ebony. Yatimah’s large dark eyes blazed from a short head with a slightly concave profile. The expression mesmerised the girls. They loved her sharply pointed ears and how, when she was excited, the curling tips nearly touched. They sighed a long, deep, happy sigh and remained silent until Jasmin declared that Yatimah was a hero, a legend in the outback, which set them all talking at once. ‘Shh, all of you! C’mon Dani, tell them the story’, Jasmin insisted. Danika knew there would be no peace unless she did what Jasmin wanted but her mother had asked her, before anything else, to tell them about a change in their plans. ‘Um, before I tell you the story, Mum said I have to explain that my cousin Jodie is coming to stay’, said Danika. She held her breath, knowing what was coming. Six eyes lifted and stared into her face. Julia and Jen looked interested but Jasmin groaned. ‘Oh no! What a pain.’ ‘Jas, it’ll be fine’, Danika reassured her. ‘Mum said we have a responsibility to look after family. Jodie’s mum is away running her business and her dad works in the mines. He was due to go back to 14


Carmel Rowley work and Jodie’s mum was held up overseas so there was no one to look after her for the next two weeks.’ ‘Two weeks’, Jasmin groaned again. ‘Our holiday is ruined!’ Julia changed the subject. ‘C’mon Jas, she couldn’t be that bad! Let’s forget about Jodie and make the best of our time together.’ They nodded. ‘Danika can tell us about Yatimah arriving at Dalry to take our minds off Jodie.’ Danika was more than happy to change the subject and launched straight into the story. ‘It was four years ago and one of those scorching hot December days with the clouds building with a promise for a storm. I was only a child, eight years old! I wish Dad was here to tell you the story but, anyway, here goes...’

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Danika and Yatimah - From Egypt to the Outback  
Danika and Yatimah - From Egypt to the Outback  

Book One of the As the Crow Flies series Living in outback Australia on a vast cattle station, Yatimah is Danika’s grey Arabian mare. Yati...

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