The humbling experience of going back to your roots
It challenges me to talk about my roots because there are some things you keep personal. I have grown so much over the past 42 years, as we all have, and I don't particularly like that shy, intimidated young girl that I once was. And there are many people that remember that girl well.
I visited my first boss, who reminded me of that. He said I had changed so much. He was right. He remembers me as the Catholic girl from Charters Towers, who was so shy that I use to put my finished work in my in-tray hoping miraculously that someone would take it out and give it to the right person.
If I made a mistake, I would cry. Yes, cry. At work in front of everyone. I really didn't have the confidence or thick enough skin to handle too much at all. My whole life I had been wrapped in cotton wool in so many ways, then in others, expected to play football with my brothers.
Charters Towers is primarily where I grew up. I lived there for most of my schooling and never, ever wanted to leave. Thank god I did, as I have gone down a journey in life that has taken me to where I am today.
Spending time in Charters Towers is like spending time in your "spiritual place". It reminds me that I once grew up with the locals and appreciated everything that this beautiful town had to offer. It is historic and I am sure you will find more antiques there than most places in Australia.
The people are mostly nice, but sceptical. They have experienced what many of us city folk have never ever experienced and that is extreme levels of unemployment. The businesses are struggling to survive.
When I became aware of this, I made it my mission to help the community the best I can. I know a little about business as I have been in business for 17 years. I am using this experience, the highs and lows, the mistakes and the big wins to share with a community of people wishing to startup new businesses to sell products and services to the world.
I remember reading all the positive messages on social media and being thrilled that collaboratively we can all make The World Incubator work. Then there was one young girl who rattled me. She wrote quite nasty things, saying that I would not know what it is like to live on the land and how hard they work. She was wrong. When I was 8 years old I remember vividly watching animals be put down, having to watch chickens be plucked for dinner with their heads cut off, and a whole heap of other raw and real realities.
They stay with you for life. You would think that you would never show your "little girl" that, but the reality of farm life, is that everybody gets to see everything. It's just a way of living and the lifecycle that animals on the farm live. No-one is not exposed to these realities.
I use to cry every single time an animal died or was killed. Or when we bought a new dog who thought the pet sheep was for dinner and ate into it's body only to find that both animals would then have to be put down. Both were pets - so imagine what that feels like. You never really quite get over it.
Now, I don't eat beef, or lamb and am allergic to pork. I look at a cow and see them as a pet. Likewise with sheep and other animals. But I don't for a second begrudge farmers for making a living or those who choose to eat meat. It is absolutely their choice and no person has the right to tell someone else how to live their lives. I also am very much on the side of farmers fighting for their survival and doing what they can to feed and water their animals. They have done it tough for many years and we have seen some of the harrowing effects of this.
Mostly, I am concerned by the number of suicides and issues with mental health in the region. Something has to be done about it and I will do anything in my power to make sure that I am there to support these people and help build the town back up to what it once was and perhaps something more.
It is important to keep the young in the town, to not only rely on agriculture and mining but also entrepreneurship and building global companies. Transport will always be an issue and skilled labour another. But if we put the right infrastructure in place now, we can plan ahead and in 2 to 5 years time be ready to take on the world.
Being in Charters Towers is humbling in so many ways. One very kind man wrote a post on facebook and called me a "true blue bushie". How humbling and nice.