Bulldust In My Bra
"Let's just leave our jobs and careers and head off in a totally different direction... in a different place on this planet; let's just get away from it all."
- from the foreword by Orion C. Samuelson, Agri-business Services Director, WGN Radio/Television
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Bulldust In My Bra is a witty and rewarding account of a couple’s life-changing year traveling and working half a world from home. A dream year of working in outback Australia offered more than Rebecca Long Chaney had anticipated. She had more heat and dust, more exhaustion building fence, more hours herding berserk feral cattle, more snakes and spiders in her sleeping quarters—and more adventure than she’d ever imagined!
Bulldust In My Bra is the lively, funny true story of a brainy and brave woman who took a hiatus from her career as a successful agricultural journalist to travel with her husband into the farthest reaches of the Outback. Their objective: find a cattle station that would accept them as ranch hands and work till they dropped every day. Chaney had grown up on a dairy farm and traveled widely reporting about the agricultural industry. Her husband Lee was the herdsman on a dairy farm. But they wanted a new challenge, and what would be better than the Australian Outback?
On the way to Australia, the Chaneys stop in Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for escapades hiking and exploring, but their real adventure began when they arrived in Western Australia with their eager faces and American accents. They both understood the difficult challenges around livestock, and a rancher on a “rough-as-guts” station offered a season of tough manual labor and an Aboriginal shack to sleep in. At Ashburton the Chaneys enjoy several months of hard work and deep satisfaction.
The job is brutal at times—setting posts and unrolling fence wire for long days in the baking heat, shoeing horses, and preparing vehicles and equipment for the great cattle musters. Their “home” was a ruined shed with wide cracks to the wind and stars, a drippy shower over a mud hole, and lizards that darted across the walls. Chaney soon got over her dismay and came to love their primitive conditions, including a poisonous huntsman spider who was their “shack mate.” Her anecdotes, both amusing and sad, are full of vivid detail and exude the love she felt for the rough landscape and hardworking people who live there. Her understanding of herself changed, as did her relationship with her husband.
The highlight of their months in Australia is the lengthy task of gathering and processing the thousands of cattle that ran wild on the tens of thousands of Ashburton acres. Over several months, the crew chased them on horseback and with adapted cars called “bull buggies.” There was tagging, dehorning and castrating to be done in the cattle yards. Bulls were separated and hauled in multiunit “road trains” to the shipping yards. The hundreds of running cattle churned up the dry earth into a fine “bulldust” that settled on everything—the mark of long days in the bush. Chaney describes their mustering days with such verve that the grueling work seems more like adventure sport than the life work of an Outback station.
"This is a story of valor, grit and determination. A young married couple rekindled the spark that originally drew them together, by giving up their structured lifestyle in the U.S. and traveling to the Australian Outback-great reading!"
- Aileen Campbell, author of The Wee Scot books and others
"This is an adventure that would test anyone's sanity, not to mention one's marriage. Because the Chaneys survived it, the rest of us can live it vicariously from the comfort of our armchairs."
- John Flinn, Travel Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
"Change, creativity, craziness and courage! The reading of this couple's journey has you walking the experience with them. Only thing better would be to have them as your next-door neighbor!"
- Jolene Brown, professional speaker
"Chaney's look at the Outback takes readers to a modern Wild West with adventures that seem never-ending and always are fascinating. It's an inspiring real-life tale of what can happen when you follow your dreams."
- Fran Mears, Managing Editor/News, Gannett News Service
“Your book has sat by my bedside for over two months now and each night I have gone to bed earlier than usual and read a chapter or two before going to sleep. Each night, I went to the Australian outback, getting excited over the things you got excited over, being afraid or apprehensive about those things that you were afraid or apprehensive about, mustering until I felt like I needed to shower from the Bulldust, living each day and each adventure along with you. I was in no great hurry to finish it because once I was finished, I knew I was going to miss it, and I do. Thank you for such a wonderful read — I admire you for your courage and I know that you will always cherish her adventures. I enjoyed your writing as well — plain and simple, the way it was, no frills and unnecessary words. I love your passion, your honesty, your wit, and your love of life and adventure.”
- Norma J. Douglas, Mt. Airy, Maryland