My name is Rosanna Mary Seaton; I live now in Pt. Pirie in South Australia. I was born Rosanna Mary Seaton in Pemberton Western Australia in 1954. With my parents Arthur and Maida and my sister Judith. I lived all over Australia, mostly in the great Australian outback. At age seven my brother Bruce was born in the Broken Hill hospital in New South Wales. I have always considered myself very fortunate and privileged to have had the opportunity to grow up among such wonderful people and in such a place. And what an honor it was to have known the friends I met along the way both human and animal. I also consider it a pleasure to introduce these friends, alive and deceased to you all as I will do in the in the next few pages. My father (deceased) was Robert Arthur Seaton of Sandy Creek in Victoria. He was a returned war vet. And could not settle back into life on the family farm. Comes to that he could not settle anywhere. He had spent six years in the Second World War which he served with the second eighth battalion in Europe and the middle east down through Timor and finally in New Guinea. A commando, he was a distinguished soldier who had won medals of valor while fighting for his country. He met my mother, a quiet but very strong farm girl and together they headed off to start a new life in Western Australia where my sister and I Were born. From there they launched a life and times which compares equally to most. My sister and I were schooled by correspondence or ‘the school of the air’ as it is better known. I started school in Queensland but the first real school I went to was down in Victoria while dad was doing some work down there back in 1960. We went to school for almost a year before we returned to our beloved sand hills and Queensland. Travelling North was written about this journey. I don’t know what it is about the sand hills that tugs on my heart strings but tug they did. It is a hard country up there and very unforgiving to anyone who underestimates it. I touched on this in my story ‘A Walk in the Desert’. During a drought these hills become bare and are a magnificent red color. They will be dotted with trees of a very hardy nature but they shift during these times, their sands being whipped up and carried by the winds. My dad once buried a bottle full of one five and ten pound notes while he left for a trip. When he returned he couldn’t find it because the sand had shifted. So that is probably still there for all you treasure hunters. During the droughts the country is burned by the sun and the hot north winds relentlessly. The cattle die and other livestock. Wild life dies or disappears. The land becomes burnt and baron, the water dries up and there are only bores to rely on. Cattle get bogged in the muddy waters of the drying up dams and will die if they’re not pulled free. As feed becomes scarce and water disappears the cattle can do nothing but lie down and perish in the searing sun. Sometimes the only thing you can do is to go out and shoot the poor devils so as not to prolong their great suffering. The only kindness you could do for the poor cows is to shoot them first so they never see what you have to do to their babies. That said, mostly they make it through the dry until the rains come. And when the rains do come the country undergoes a complete transformation. Almost overnight the vegetation grows back, enough grass for everyone. The red sand is covered once more in green grasses and wildflowers of red ll of these birds will and yellow and white, even mauve. The old spinifex bushes which have held on all through the drought are rewarded for their tenacity. Clay pans, creeks and dams are filled with water. Lakes fill up and water roars through creeks and catchment areas. Frogs spring to life and sing their song of joy to all who were there to listen. Soon the waters would be teaming with tadpoles. The smell of the rain the wet earth and the leaves of all the plants as they opened themselves to the water, the beautiful life giving water. The wild life returns to the desert transformed into paradise, as if they’d been waiting just round the bend. Animals appear and start frolicking and running as if stretching their stiff cramped limbs. As the rain slows to a mist a cool refreshing mist after months sometimes even years of heat and harsh dryness, animals come out of hiding to drink and vent their joy. At such times as these I have seen the brolgas dance their beautiful graceful dance and no better praise to heaven have I ever seen. Soon the lakes and creeks are teeming with bird, emus, pelicans, swans, cockies, gahlas, plovers and dozens of other varieties. The old crow is there and the magpies and the noise is wonderful. The brolgas to of course and wild turkeys, all move to the water’s edge.. Soon enough all of these birds will get down to the business of producing offspring. The rabbits pour back into the country and that is where my dad comes in because he is a rabbiter. He catches rabbits and sells them for a living. We lived in a caravan for most of my child hood as we travelled around the country following them. We sold rabbits overseas and all over Australia. The last time I sold a pair of rabbits was in 1968 and I got 40cents a pair. My mother loved the life in the outback even though it went from hard to extremely hard. She cooked on an open fire mostly and we washed by hand. I was ten years old before we lived in a house in town and enjoyed electricity for the first time. As young as I was I was always glad to get back up to the bush. During the war my mum worked in ‘munitions. She was also my first teacher and may I say a very strict one. Anytime we were sent to school it was always commented on how well we were taught and how far ahead we were. I always get back up the bush whenever I can and things are changing out there. There are much better roads now thanks to the large mining and oil drilling outfits. When I was a kid there were only tracks and a day’s trip today would take weeks back then. With the roads came progress and now there are shops, roadhouses hotels caravan parks etc. where once there was only scrub. Tourists have taken the place of most of the animals. My parents passed away many years ago and I often wonder what they would make of it all now. Anyhow I guess it will become clear to you all as you read these pages that I love the great Australian outback and I have the utmost respect for it. Even today you can regret not respecting her. She made me laugh, she made me cry and she taught me right from wrong. She gave me love and she gave me danger and at times she broke my heart. And may I say that I would not change a single day of my childhood. And the friends I met along the way shall remain forever in my heart. Thanks for the memories and thanks for the times you took pity on me and spared my life. I am absolutely certain that I shall return to her for my long sleep. Anyhow, without farther ado, welcome to my life and I hope you get something from my story.
A humorous collection of stories about life growing up in the Australian outback as seen and lived by Mary Seaton (Hoppo) of Tibooburra. With animals for playmates and ww11 diggers for her circle of friends, Mary grows up with a somewhat different take on the world. Raised on the road in tents and caravans, she’d lived in every state by age eight, Mary developed her own style and a dry sense of humor. Educated by correspondence, taught by her mother it was from her mother that she developed her ability to write. When most girls her age were learning to cook sew lessons and school, she was out with her father learning to track trap shoot skin butcher and survival. By the time she was ten she could track an animal for miles or shoot a rabbit on the run for her dinner.
A humorous sometimes bitter sweet story about her unique interactions and communications with animals and wild life in the region. Her book is a tell all tale of growing learning and survival in the harsh Australian bush.
About the Author
Rosanna Mary Hoppo 2010
Born Rosanna Mary Seaton in Pemberton WA.
The daughter of a rabbit trapper (returned war hero) she grew up travelling all over Australia. She was educated to high school standard doing correspondence (school of the air). Along with her sister Judith Seaton was taught by their mother Maida. At age fourteen she was sent to boarding school in Broken Hill and left school at end of year twelve.
Growing up in the great Australian outback her parents’ based themselves out of Tibooburra and this she adopted as her home town. She married in South Australia and all her children were born in that state. Rosanna went on to become a truck driver until she could no longer do it and then became a security guard and worked up on the Olympic Dam mine. She started writing in her late forties.