7 March 2022

Only an Aussie hero can be laid-back, whilst 10-foot-tall-and-bulletproof

| Sally Hopman
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Road underwater

Regardless of whether the river floods in Yass or at the other end of the state, chances are man, woman, child – and dog, will be on hand to help out. Photo: Sally Hopman.

Did you hear about those two blokes in northern NSW who took off in their tinny to rescue what ended up being more than 20 people from the roofs of flooded houses because no one else could get to them?

They didn’t wait for someone, somewhere else, to give them the OK, an hour after the event, from headquarters in another state. They saw folk in trouble and went in to help. Sure it was risky, but so is over-thinking this stuff.

It’s such an Aussie skill to be ten-foot-tall-and-bullet-proof and laid-back at the same time. They do it particularly well in the bush. See something wrong and simply work out a way to fix it. No fuss. No bother. Just do it.

Years ago I had a pony that no one else wanted, so of course he moved into my place. He was cranky, obstinate, pig-headed and about 50 other words that mean nasty.

He had badly neglected feet so I got the farrier in every couple of weeks to try to make him more comfortable. He bit the farrier and me, when the farrier wasn’t there.

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I bought him the best, blandest hay money could buy so it wouldn’t exacerbate his laminitis. He preferred rich red plums from the tree – and dog food. I bought him a smart blue coat – he chewed it off.

Then one day he just upped (downed?) and died. It was, of course, one of the hottest days of the year, and around midday at the time.

A 500-kilo pony lying in the sun, dead as.

I went over to him and, being the brave soul I am, ran away, unable to even cover him up.

I tried again, a few minutes later, armed with an old tarp. But this time, sensibly, I had my eyes closed so I wouldn’t see his dead face. I chucked the tarp over where I thought he was and ran straight into a tree.

When I came to, my elderly neighbour was by my side, shaking her head as she regularly did when I was around, asking why I had thrown a tarp over the vegie garden when there was a dead pony lying in the sun next to it.

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I called a friend up the road, crying over the phone, mumbling something about a dead pony, a tree and a headache. I could almost hear him shaking his head but could definitely hear him mumble my name with expletives attached – and then I heard his ute roar down the road towards my place.

By this stage, my elderly neighbour had covered the poor pony with the tarp and had called the bloke who lived on the other side of us – the most popular bloke in the village because he had a bobcat and wasn’t afraid to use it.

I’d like to say I stayed outside with them as they dug the world’s biggest hole, picked up the pony, and placed him in it, then covered him all up again, but of course I didn’t. I went inside and drank cups of tea and ate Tim Tams.

There weren’t enough slabs in the bottle shop to show my thanks to these heroes. But I tried.

Turns out they had reward enough, dining out on the story for days, months, years – and probably are still doing it to this day. I certainly would if I were as brave as them. It certainly explained why people always laughed – I like to think it was more of a smile – every time I went into the village shop.

Meanwhile, the pony lies under the vegetable garden, no doubt pulling the carrots growing above, down south toward him. Neigh, he was probably just spreading the word about loopy humans.

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