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Connecting Gippsland through positive storytelling.


God is in the details.

Thumbing through the drafted pages of this edition, a commitment to detail seems to permeate from the protagonist in every story – several subjects dedicating their lives to this pursuit.

Sep 11, 2023

Words: Tim Leeson
Images: Alex Gruber

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I remember it so clearly now because I nearly didn't remember it at all.

It was a proper scorcher. Pushing mid-30s way before lunch. It’d surely flirt with 40, but inside the tin shed it must have kissed that milestone temperature goodbye and kept rising, especially up near the roof. There was dust too. It hung in the air. Well, until it hit the perspiration pouring out of every pore. Then it stuck like shit to a sheep’s arse.

Summer hay carting time. I loved it.

I reckon I was high-school age. I’d gotten myself a blue ‘bluey’ singlet, but it wasn’t that faded yet. The bottom hem was starting to stretch out though. You knew it was gonna look legit. Proper farmer.

It’s inspiring and these exemplifiers, no matter their field, have the ability to set the tone for our entire region.

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It was ‘round the time I heard Uncle Charlie chuckling through the phrase, “If you’ve got a boy, you’ve got half a man. Two boys – nothing!” I had a chip on my shoulder. I didn’t want to be seen as half a man, so I was trying to hurl as many little square hay bales onto the base of the elevator as my scrawny teenage arms could manage.

You could hear Auntie Joyce’s four-wheel motorbike coming across the paddock before the folds in the hill gave you a glimpse of it.

Once you heard its engine cut out, the next sound you picked up was the rattle of ice blocks in that old foam pyramid flask. Do you remember the ones with the big white cup sitting on top?

Break time!

My young, hollow legs swiftly headed towards the promise of food. The proper farmers (not pretend, like me) took their time getting down off the stack or their tractors and slowly sauntered over for a smoko of homemade sandwiches.

There were two thermoses present: the foamie one filled with ice-cold water and one brimming with tea. All the old boys went for the tea first. Mentally, I scoffed at them, then slammed down several large gulps of the iciest water you can imagine.

Boom – the most hectic brain freeze I’d ever experienced hit me. I felt dizzy and I swear I was getting the tunnel vision that appears before you pass out (for me, it’s when they take blood – yeah, I’m a lightweight). For a brief period, I thought I was going to echo the hay bales I’d been throwing and drop with a deadened thud.

I was a hot mess and I’m sure the old boys enjoyed a chuckle; not that you could tell, they don’t tend to give much away.

But chalk it up as another valuable life lesson. Tepid tea before launching into glacial run-off when busy on a boiling hot day.

There’s a time and a place for particular drinks. Creating this edition brought these habits, rituals and traditions to the fore again.

For instance, you can kickstart your day with a coffee, but you’re more likely to close it with a caffeine-free tea. There’s sparkling white wine for celebrations and hot chocolate for grey winter days. As with food, there are a myriad of cultural cues that trigger us to enjoy a particular drink at a certain time. However, we believe that Gippsland Jersey would adamantly disagree with hilarious film anchorman Ron Burgundy: milk is never the wrong choice.

The other insight this issue of Gippslandia reaffirmed is that there is beauty in focusing on the details and doing something well.

It’s an ideal that frequently surfaces when listening to artists, craftspeople and proud business owners as we prepare to share their stories through the newspaper. But, it’s never quite resonated through Gippslandia’s pages to the degree it does in this edition.

Ordinarily, this is when I’d highlight a couple of stories that best encapsulate this notion. Yet, as I continue to thumb through the drafted pages, this commitment to detail seems to permeate every story – several subjects dedicating their lives to this pursuit.

It’s inspiring and these exemplifiers, no matter their field, have the ability to set the tone for our entire region.

Because in nailing the small details, you have the possibility to create something immensely memorable.

Gippslandia - Issue No. 28

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Gippslandia is a community, non-profit publication. We curate an ever-optimistic take on regional, national and global issues, in a local context. Leaving you feeling like a Gippslandia local, no matter where you’re from. Read more

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