Adventure beckons

Overseas Experience (OE) is a standard part of young adulthood for many Kiwis. The Coates children are following the trail set by Gaye Coates and husband Murray.

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Overseas Experience (OE) is a standard part of young adulthood for many Kiwis. The Coates children are following the trail set by Gaye Coates and husband Murray.

Like many young people, our children have grown up listening to stories of their parents’ OE travels. In our case, it would be fair to say Murray’s encounters and escapades have received more attention than my own recollections, which in comparison seem witheringly subdued both in circumstance and execution.

Murray’s fervid recounts fall well into the category of unbelievable and wildly thrilling.

Tales of solo hitch hikes through the Australian desert; encounters with large spiders in the shower (even the most unimaginative mind can visualise a naked man armed with a cake of soap bowling out the arachnid with Southee precision); and of retreating to an English pub when the cultivating of a posh university cricket field went awry after the plough sliced through the main fibre optic cable resulting in the professors and suited administrators racing on to the pitch with significantly less reserve than the cucumber sandwiches in the staff cafe.

So, it was of no surprise when our two sons at the conclusion of their university studies, set off overseas to compile their own adventure stories.

The eldest is in remote Western Australia narrating incidents with rogue camels, sneaky snakes and perpetual vehicle breakdowns.

The younger is in Queensland cotton country plagued with bad weather in the worst season for rain in 20 years. His messages with equal humour and enthral describe larger-than-life machines with more dashboard lights than his colour-blind eyes quite know what to do with. The stories both memorable and mundane are welcomed, proof all is okay.

Among the memorable, has been the eldest son’s attempt to buy a vehicle. Weeks into living remotely, he decided having access to a vehicle when four hours from anywhere might be an advantage! So began a not so simple two-day journey involving cadging a 500km ride to town, followed by an overnight train to Perth.

He left his lust for a Hilux ute behind (high kms, no service history) and took the sensible option of buying a Mitsubishi 2WD ute that had an impeccable service record. Twelve hours of driving to get home and 20km from the end, in the dark with thunder and lightning electrifying the surrounds, the engine came to a sudden stop.

Fortunately, the good luck combination of a spot of cell coverage and an understanding boss rescued him. With the mentoring of YouTube, he has carried some positivity away from the saga taking pride in diagnosing what the mechanical problem is likely to be. He is obtaining “international advice” from mates with questionable mechanical talent and may yet expand his diagnostic skills to having a crack at repairing it.

That was last week’s story.

This week started with a snake under his kitchen table, the subsequent murder of it with a shovel and then the perfect “Croc Dundee” selfie of him with said snake. Thankfully he had googled comprehensively to know that waiting at least half an hour for this photo opportunity was advisable. Apparently snakes can still bite post mortem!

The stories are a great form of diversion.

Summer 2022/23 is packing a hefty, dry punch to the West Coast equal to that of the drought of last year. It’s a phenomenon that those in the North will find inconceivable with their sad and sodden summer. Likely however, the ramifications of both polarised versions of the season will be the same.

Profit is following the same downward trajectory as grass growth and milk production. The only upward movement has been in farm working expenses and interest rates; a rather frightening visual exponential curve.

Six weeks of dry and intense heat have shaped the summer in our region. We have been granted some reprieve with the recent gentle delivery of 94mm of rain.

The assault on morale is massive; the practicality of managing through the challenges un-nerving despite the arrival of some rain. So, in the spirit of resilience we’ll keep leaping to the notification sounds emitted from our phones and take up the psychological sanguinity offered by the Snapchat excerpts that share our boys exploits and pull from the archives memories of our own travel adventures.