Blackwater in Central Queensland hasn’t quite the same appeal as Airlie Beach. There’s no swaying palms, no crystal clear ocean for swimming and not half as many trendy cafes. Nope, besides the tireless shunting of coal trains heading to Port Gladstone and the swirling dust storms that relentlessly blow in, I can’t understand why any sane family would want to move from paradise by the beach to a dust bowl in the west.
But Chloe had a good enough reason. After being married to a FIFO husband for twenty six years it was time to salvage what was left of their marriage and family life. Raising five children on her own was tough – real tough. Geoff flew out to Blackwater for two weeks at a time and then back home to Airlie for seven. For the first three days his body readjusted to the change of routine and then for the last four he raced around doing all the family stuff he had missed out on. For twenty six years.
Life for Geoff on the job was no pleasure cruise. He worked underground on twelve hour shifts. Either 6.00 am to 6.00 pm or the other way around. Either way, it was hard work and then at the end of the shift there was washing, cooking and shopping to do. Somewhere in their Geoff slept (crashed) and managed to catch up on being a dad and husband via phone. And how he missed his family. Missed out on all the milestones, celebrations, Christmas events, school graduations and more. Missed out so much that things were falling apart. Work was good but what counted the most – family – was not.
Chloe couldn’t live like that anymore. The children were in
their early to late teens and getting involved in stuff that she couldn’t handle without Geoff around. Decision time. Either watch the family fall apart or move to Blackwater so that they might hold together whatever fragments of family life were left.
Life gets messy sometimes. And it can take some big decisions to get things back on track. Moving to maintain family can be almost overwhelming. Especially when teenagers are involved in relationships with friends and finding their own identity among peers. It takes a huge step of faith and a conviction that family is worth rescuing above anything else.
Chloe and Geoff will say that moving from paradise to the dusty west is the best thing that ever happened to their family. All of them came and none of them want to return. They have new friends, activities, and are part of a safe country community. But best of all, they have each other. Transitioning was hard and it took a long time to adjust to the change. But Chloe will tell anyone, even two strangers staying in Blackwater for the night, that families are worth rescuing.