Wheatbelt father and son portraits
Now 77, Robin’s life has not always been easy but it’s been full of love. Emerging from the school principal’s office after getting “the cuts” for wolf-whistling at her, Robin first saw his “Princess”, Kaye as she walked across the schoolyard. “You know when you’ve seen an angel” he told me. Knowing he’d got a keeper, Robin asked her father if he could marry her six times before he gained approval. Robin was 21 and Kaye was just 18 when they married. Robin recalls standing at the altar when Kaye didn’t show up for a good half an hour, worried that she’d finally listened to the naysayers - it turned out she was on the wrong side of the train tracks as the slow-moving and very long freight train went through. Told their union would never last, years later his father-in-law told him it was the happiest marriage he knew.
Two decades ago Robin and Kaye moved from Harvey in the south-west of WA up to Goodlands where they could afford to buy land and give farming a go. Goodlands is barely a name on the map - there’s no shop, fuel stop or pub. It’s literally the last stop to the north before the vast expanses of broad acre farms of the wheatbelt abruptly transition to untamed station country. Locally its claim to fame is the six farms in a row all run by bachelors of various ages. (Take your pick, ladies.)
A true Aussie battler, Robin’s done it tough but inspired by his Princess he’s always just got on with it and always appreciated what he did have. They were happily married for 49 years during which time Kaye suffered health problems finally succumbing to cancer six years ago. Around that same time, their son Robert went in for back surgery after years of being doubled-over shearing sheep. He was left a quadriplegic.
Father and son now live together in the shed that was home to Robin and Kaye. True to form, they’re getting on with it and work as a team on the farm. There’s lots of tractor work to be done and Robin uses the loader to lift his son into the cab of the tractor so he can work the fields. “I break things, and he fixes them,” Robin tells me. “I keep him busy.”