OUR TIME AT DOOMADGEE
Friday 2 August – Thursday 8 August:
I have already described our initial arrival tasks and things we had to organize. We moved most of our possessions from the van to the house – mostly for their security.
We would be paying rental – a token amount – for the house, to the Education Department. This would be a deduction from our salaries.
We decided that the house would “do” – it was big enough for us. The second bedroom took the things we wanted to store, from the van, plus the ironing board that came with the place, was set up in there.
John decided that his main task for the weekend would be to burn the long grass around our fence line – before the locals decided to put a match to it, and maybe burn the van! It took him a good part of the two days, doing small sections at a time, and patrolling carefully with rake and hose.
Made our initial foray to the store and was very unimpressed with what was (not) available. I did manage to get some soy milk, which was a bit of a surprise. Also bought Weetbix and some elderly potatoes and onions. No fruit available. We did have some food from the van freezer, but it was obvious that meals would become a challenge, without a decent meat source, and not being able to trust the frozen products. Rice and pasta would have to star! I also had some vegies and eggs that I’d bought from Adels.
I would get a better idea when able to get to the store within a couple of hours of the weekly truck arrival, of what fresh and perishable produce there might be.
A few weeks later, I was planning that I would bring back a supply of frozen meats, when we returned from the outside world, after the Term 3 school holidays. I thought I might be able to set up an arrangement with Woolworths and Ringrose Transport in Mt Isa to get my own private supply on the weekly truck.
We discovered the first afternoon that the sun sets behind the house – the late afternoon sun came through the kitchen window. Sunsets here were very pretty. Not much else was!
We went for a walk down our street, towards the main road. We did not feel all that secure about doing so, because of the packs of dogs that were around. I had a feeling that we would not be getting much walking exercise in this place!
Monday was our first day at work. We both felt eager to discover what plans they had for us. The answer very soon became apparent – no one had really thought about it!
The SM took us to a securely locked storeroom – of which he was the key’s only custodian – and issued us with things like pens and writing paper. Despite how far it was into Term 3, he still did not have a timetable worked out for the secondary students – all three classes of same! There was only a handful of elective and TAFE programs to be allocated time slots. It certainly was not rocket science! He had been telling the teachers to figure out for themselves, what to do with the students!
John made it clear that he believed he was here to work on literacy programs. Through the week, he met up with the staff lady who dealt with the remedial work for students, and also the occasionally visiting psych lady. Neither seemed at all interested in working with him on remedial literacy programs. In fact, they gave off a definite aura of hostility.
Eventually it was sorted out that John would have – for some of the time – a small class of boys who needed remedial reading work. John said he would fill in elsewhere as needed – definitely not a wise move!
We just puttered about, through our first week, trying most of the time to work out what the hell was going on.
Thursday was Sports Day – like a house athletics competition. We helped out with the oversight of some events. I was already getting to know a few of the older girls’ names and was able to spend some time chatting informally with them during the sports.
One funny episode occurred during the sports, which were held on the school oval. A couple of boys, probably aged about 12 or 13, were walking back from the direction of the store, towards houses beyond the school, carrying a couple of bags of shopping. Seeing the sports happening, they just dropped the shopping, left it where it fell, and raced onto the oval to join in the sports.
John refuelled Truck at the Store, this week, paying $1.22 cpl.