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By Caro Peacock

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I sat up and decided to go for a jog rather than lie listening to Dad in the bathroom mimicking Pavarotti. Darlene and Joe waved as I crossed the compound. They were sharing a pot of tea on their 55 verandah. As I felt them watching me, I remembered what Dad had told us about the lack of privacy in a small community. I didn’t go far. There was heaps of cleaning to do before the removalists arrived and even if there wasn’t, it only took ten minutes to jog from one end of Eucla to the other. When I returned Mum was in a panic.

Just pile them in the corners,’ Mum said. ’ Dad gave Luke a bucket of water and a sponge. ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘we’ll scrub the windows and flyscreens. ’ Luke asked. Dad turned to Luke and held his shoulders. ‘Luke,’ he said quietly, ‘there is no glory in killing. Starlings are beautiful and intelligent creatures. The men here can spend days hunting one bird. ’ My brother seemed confused. ’ ‘I’ve told you, Luke, they’re pests, like rabbits and foxes. They were introduced by homesick settlers last century and now they’re taking over the country.

The plan was to begin early, study until lunchtime with two short breaks and then, when the cuckoo crowed one o’clock, we’d finish for the day. At first Mum enjoyed organising everything. After a few days though, the novelty of teaching wore off. ‘How am I supposed to know what’s what with these maths assignments? ’ ‘It’s fine, Mum, I’ve already read them. ’ ‘Don’t worry, I remember doing that stuff. ’ ‘Well if you’re sure it’s okay, I’ll just pop down to the roadhouse and have a chat with Cathy.

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