The big distances between rural properties makes the supply of services very difficult. The telephone line goes zigzag from property to property and if one line drops out, the whole lot drops out. The same with electricity. It is not like in the cities and suburbs where everyone is provided from a main phone or power line going through the streets.
Even though we were within 170km from Sydney, many properties did not have power connected and used solar energy backed up by batteries. To get main power connected would cost $40.000 for just a single pole.
We had 5 poles on our previous farm and I was so sick of drop-outs that I would regularly inspect the poles. The main problem was drop-down insulators. They were a device that would allow electricity to drop out during violent lightning, preventing the burning of cables or power poles.
These insulators were at an angle so that gravity would allow them to drop easily out of their clamps. When they did, I used to phone Country energy and they would come with a huge grapple stick and push the insulator back in their clamps while standing on the back of the truck.
Sometimes a farmer would switch on a huge electric pump from miles away and that would then cause a surge with the whole area out of power again.
It was all very rural and this is why you finally just go for line-dancing at the local art school to eat a home- made muffin, shuffle your RM Williams and donate to the VFB of NSW. The noise and the fiddle would somehow calm the whole of rurality and that’s how power failures became accepted and part of the parcel, almost to the point where one was expecting it when things were going well for too long.
I, as you would all imagine, was hopeless at line dancing which calls for some kind of spontaneity or letting go, an ongoing life- long task I am still working on. Even Peter Garrett’s dancing is a Nureyev ballet compared to mine. So, I would normally bide my time and only join in when most were too intoxicated to notice my bizarre effort at line dancing.
To think all those lessons at Phyllis Bates back in the late fifties or early sixties with Cha, Cha, and Foxtrot would have left some kind of elasticity.
It seems like yesterday Svetlana and I were still doing the Lambada.