True North: The Story of Mary and Elizabeth Durack
Author: Niall Brenda
The north claimed Bet Durack in 1933, as it had claimed Mary. The next eight months at Argyle Downs gave her a place in the daily life of the station. She learned its rituals, took part in its daily work, listened to stockmen's stories, watched corroborees whenever invited to the station camp, and above all she imprinted on her memory the colours of the Kimberley. Back in Perth during the wet season, she felt that the meaning of home had changed. The months passed slowly until she and Mary set out again for the stations in April 1934. Her letters home show her exhilaration at the return, and a comic sense which makes the most of the journey and its mishaps. Travelling from Wyndham to Argyle Downs, after the week on the Koolinda, they stopped first at Ivanhoe Station. Only fifty miles from the port, Ivanhoe was the most accessible of the properties, but in Bet's exuberant account of their journey, every mile was an adventure:
Well I don't think there was any stop between Goose Hill and Saltwater Creek but we stopped properly when we got there and Reg held forth long and lustily on the utter irresponsibility of taking car through water thigh deep. Eventually he decided to take Dad's car first. This meant unpacking it. Mary and I set to work with our usual ardour and dragged out the swags, suitcases, apples, oranges etc etc. Meanwhile Jack [Kilfoyle] was testing the bottom again. ' Oh dear, dear, dear Reg. It'll be a good car that that gets us through this Reg. Oh dear, dear, dear, almost up to a man's waist, eh Reg?' Reg places the car gingerly at the water's edge. 'I think it best to rush it, son' says Dad. Reg of course thinks the opposite and of course says 'yes'. However in low gear with all hands pushing we deposited it safely on the opposite bank. Then started a long procession of crossings and recrossings with the swags and suitcases and apples and oranges etc. Reg carefully bandaged the carburettor of his car and with a look of infinite misery on his face turned its nose to the water. 'Mind you, I don't think she'll do it'. Anyway with an extra push, she did. We all patted ourselves on the back and wrung ourselves out and rubbed our sweaty faces.