Pam Forster is the publican at Urandangi, almost 300km from Boulia, and when it rains heavily like it did around Australia Day getting in and out is not easy on the region’s dirt roads.
“I tried to get out but near the airstrip there is a really wet spot and the ruts are really bad and I was sideways most of the way until I came to the first little creek, I thought, no,I’m going home,” Pam said.
“I left at ten past five and I was home by six – that’s how long it had taken me to do that.”
Pam said the honour of the shire’s citizen of the year was unexpected.
“You do things because you like to do them so it makes you feel very good,” she said.
Pam has lived in Urandangi (population eight adults, eight children, one pub and “lots and lots” of kangaroos, according to a sign) for ten years and provides many crucial services for this remote little community.
“It’s one of those things, it’s not just a pub, it’s a roadhouse, you’ve got Centrelink, flying doctor agent, post office, everything,” she said.
People also rely on Pam as the local bible for road and weather conditions.
“I know exactly what the Georgina (River) is doing and what it is expected to do,” she said. At this point Pam interrupts the interview to deal with noisy kids who have walked into the pub, “Out, all of you!” she cries and the kids immediately obey.
“They all call me ‘nana’,” she said proudly.
“They’ve got to have somewhere and a safe place to come to, all the kids know this is a safe place and they can come here any time.”
Pam has a long time affinity with the border region. “I used to work at Tobermorey and Manners Creek many years ago and we came here on Sunday to have a beer,” she said. Then she moved to a station in the Territory near Barrow Creek, then Derby in WA where she managed an aged care facility for five years.
“I was burned out after that,” she said.
“Then I heard the (Urandangi) pub was for sale so I came over here and bought it,” she said.
She said the pub was over 80 years old.
“I’ve got lots of conflicting stories about it, I’m talking to people who know about its history and I’ll be able to piece it all together eventually,” she said.
“Urandangi is a good little town, we work together, we sit together and we protect one another - that’s what it’s all about.”
Pam said Urandangi also had a great school with a great principal and lovely new teacher with 14 students. “They get a great education here,” she said.
And did Pam herself have any plans for the future? “I’ve got the pub on the market but I’ve got no plans of leaving,” she said.