Content Banners

Ann Britton Outback Photography

Happy 30th Wedding Anniversary to My Best Mate

Well… I was thinking I could put a blog together in a day, that has 30 years of gathered memories to sort through…..anyway 22 days later I have finished…..

On the 30th day of November 1985, 30 years ago I married my best mate. We were suppose to be married 11am  at the Lowood Golf Club…..but #BossMan’s Best Man was late so I had to wait for him to go passed before I turned up, so I was a bit late.
Our celebrant was a female, we went to visit her once….white shag pile carpet that her white cat hid in easily, a white lounge that Rick and I sat on gingerly and to me (after five years as a Governess) the whole house screamed “no kids live here.” When I was late to our wedding, the celebrant was having a chat with Rick about the importance of marriage and asked him why he was getting married. Apparently he copped an earful and lecture about marriage cause his reply “cause I’m sick of washing my own socks and jocks” wasn’t her appropriate answer for wedded bliss.
On the morning of 30 November 2015, I woke up with my little family under the same roof, so was feeling extra specially blessed. Thomas went gone off with his father, Tojo and Kimberly to fix a bore at Black Mountain, they took a giant air compressor, it wasn’t a normal pulling of a bore, but they fixed the problem over a couple of days. Claire was in the kitchen baking an Anniversary cake. I smile at the thought that my kids could swap places either bore pulling or baking a cake, and get the job done successfully.
I also learnt that morning, when my husband handed me my Anniversary gift, that 30 years is celebrated by giving pearls, lucky me.
My ranga Ringer boyfriend.
The first words this young fellow said to me in September 1983 were “can you thread a needle?”
Thanks to Pop and June Searle I attended the Hamilton Hotel bike sports while I was working at Elderslie as a Governess for the Muir’s, 63km west of Winton.
The Hamilton Hotel is steeped in Britton family history.
One of the bike races during this sporting event was “Thread the Needle.” The riders, with a needle pinned to their shirts, lined up at one end of a claypan flat that was used as the race course. About 100m across the flat their “partners” all female, lined up opposite, each holding a thread. When the starter waved his flag, indicating “go” about a dozen 600cc dirt motorbikes roared across the dusty flat hell bent to get to there partners first. The only instruction Rick gave me, this complete stranger, when he dropped me off at my place in the line of females, none of which I knew, was “don’t move” When Rick appeared at my side, amongst a huge amount of dust, I grabbed the needle & while I threaded it, he did a 180 around me waiting for me to finish and put the needle back in his shirt to race back to the start line which was now the finish. We didn’t win. The other race I went in with him, was the “Rescue Race” I’m sure you can work out what that involved and his instruction for that race was “hang on tight” there may have been an extra motive, apart from trying to win, on his part for that directive.
When he told me he lived at Goodwood, I thought he was pulling my leg, who would name a place out this way Good-Wood?
I never said anything.
When he asked me, during the evening after the bike sports “what are you drinking?” as he shouted me a drink, I said scotch and dry as I watched him drink a can of coke, thinking he didn’t drink alcohol, I found out later he had two nips of rum in the coke.
A few days after returning to work I did suss out with my bosses The Britton’s and Goodwood, to find, yes all was legit.
A few weeks later while watching TV at Elderslie, which is set a few kilometres off the road, a car arrived after dark, the kids went to investigate and came running back to the lounge saying it was my father. With huge excitement about this unexpected visit from my Dad I raced down the veranda that was in full view of the front door to find Rick waiting there……awkward……his comment “saw your light on thought I’d drop in”
Then and there I should have realised that he had a quick wit and would never be short of a joke.
Rick for 30th Anniversary _0002
Rick and I swapped Ziggy’s, the little stuffed toy on Rick’s shoulder, when we were first going out together. After Elderslie I move north of Cloncurry, first on Boomarra and then on Kamilaroi during the year of 1984. Rick moved south of Bedourie working at Glengyle and then even further south into SA, in the same year. This was back in the day of radio telephone, so writing letters was our way of corresponding, we still have all those letters and cards. Even if he wrote to me once a week and vice versa, due to mail being irregular, we both may receive many letters all at once with some being weeks old.
Our Ziggys have lived on our bedhead every since we’ve lived together from the end of 1984 when we were engaged, first at Goodwood and then at Springvale in 1985, where I worked as a Governess and Rick joined me there as a head stockman, for the Tulley’s.
I experienced my first rat plague at Springvale (one ran across my face while I was in bed one night) and I learnt that decompression levers on a diesel generator need to be turned all the way over before you can crank handle, start motor. Also it takes a long time for a water beds water to warm up during winter when you don’t have 24 hour power, amongst many other things during our year at Springvale. We owned a boxer dog called BP, who was a great character, the first of many dogs that Rick brought home when it was a case of the dogs not being wanted or cared for by others.
Rick for 30th Anniversary

9 Mile Yard Glengyle Station Rick riding Dust Storm cutting out Cluny cattle. I guess the year this was taken was 1986, the first year of our marriage was spent on Cluny Station where Rick was head stockman. He was the only white man in the stock camp (other than the cook) and the Aboriginal ringers called the camp “Rick and the All Black”
One thing I have learnt from my husband over the years, when your business is working stock, there is no daylight wasted. In his younger years, he worked hard, played hard and slept well at night. He still works hard and sleeps well at night, but has longer stretches between playing hard these days. I don’t think he has grown up, just learnt.
Many a time I never said we were going to an event/holiday (a very rare occurrence) until we were there. Plans could and would understandably be cancelled at the last minute if our stock needed attention, usually a bore broken down.
Rick for 30th Anniversary _0004
In 1987 our “little man” Thomas, entered our lives. We were living in Boulia, Rick was working on Goodwood with his parents and brother and his family. I worked in the butcher shop, which Rick’s family leased from the council, I also helped out where needed at Goodwood. Back then we had sheep as well as cattle, so there was not too much daylight wasted.
Rick for 30th Anniversary _0003
In 1989 Claire made our little family complete. The first words Rick said when she was born, considering I thought I was going to have three boys, girls being rare on both sides of the family “what are we going to do when she is 13?”
He went out and bought Claire three dresses while I was still in hospital with her, all blue.
Both the kids were born in Brisbane, we weren’t able to have kids at the then Boulia Hospital.
Rick’s Dad, amongst many others, was born in Boulia.
Whether pregnant women from Boulia go to Mt Isa, or another location to have their children, even today, they are required to go four weeks before the birth due date.
Both kids did School of the Air to grade seven and then they both attended Blackheath and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers for boarding school till grade 12.
School worked around property work, but the kids never missed out on school. At one stage we had three shearing each year. Considering we cockie sheared…… just got the team in and we did the rest….. including the cooking, unless I had a Governess or VISE tutor, cooking took up all my time.
The kids thought it was great, any time spent with Dad out in the paddock they would class better than school room time. Not once did they complain about all the early mornings we had during shearing and mustering. This work ethic has put them in good stead today. Don’t worry they both know how to party.
Thank goodness Thomas was really wanting to go to boarding school as Rick didn’t really want him to go and even though I knew he needed to go, it was a very emotional decision for myself. After Claire went off to boarding school, the house was so quiet, I have found one of my favourite sounds is having my family all under one roof.
Thomas has gone down the path of boiler maker, crane driver and now attending Uni to get his engineering degree. Claire worked away on properties, cattle studs, with camp drafting families and returned home a couple of years ago. She wrote this about her father this year.
Rick for 30th Anniversary _0001
It was very rare for us to get a baby sitter for work or play, the kids were with us where ever we went. If Dad (Rick) spent the day away working there was always play time on his return. Rick was a hands on Dad, leading by example but allowing the kids to achieve, diclofenac generic price learn, explore but always protective. I think Claire’s blog explains this very well.
Rick for 30th Anniversary _0005
We moved to Lucknow November 1989, after Rick’s parents purchased the property, 120km east of Boulia on the Winton Boulia Shires Boundary. Thomas was 2 and Claire was 2 months old when we moved to Lucknow. It was overrun by wild pigs. Being summer, no air con, we slept outside at night. Claire in a cot, Thomas in single bed & us in double, all with our own mossie nets. I would have a car battery and spotlight on my side of the bed and Rick would have a rifle on his. We would hear pigs walking up the fence to where we were sleeping, heading to the turkey nest for a drink. I would clip the spot light to battery and shine light on the pig, and Rick would shot it and both kids would continue sleeping.
The kids and I spent a great deal of time at Lucknow by ourselves, as the main work was at Goodwood so Rick spent his time there.
The kids and I got by with running the generator on an average of 2 hours a day, that allowed for washing and if any ironing needed to be done. It was a time when the kids could watch a video.
We had a kero fridge to start with, that would blow black smoke on cue as soon as Rick drove away heading to Goodwood. We later moved to a gas fridge and we had a gas freezer that was a little gem.
We only had HF communication as well, no telephone when we first moved to Lucknow.
Rick used motorbike lights to set up in the bedrooms that hooked to batteries outside so that I had lights at night if I had to attend to the kids.
The photo above was Claire’s 4th birthday in the Lucknow kitchen.
BDR_7330 Rick Goodwood windmill
We moved to Goodwood when Thomas was eight and Claire was six.
24 hour power, the freezers/fridge would keep me awake at night the first couple of nights.
Water maintenance is top priority and we relied on many windmills 30 years ago, with a sprinkling of dams. We have a fair few solars now but still a large number of windmills we rely on.
#BossMan’s is rather the perfectionist when it comes to his windmills and rightfully so. I think I could nearly write a book about our “adventures” when pulling bores. Many were straight forward but others were very character building.
My husband is very much a cattle man, yes the sheep were lovely for the bank balance most times and they gave the family a great start thanks to Rick’s Dad management and a great deal of hard work from all the family. But the difference in #BossMan dealing with all things “sheep” to all things “cattle” is like comparing chalk to cheese. He use to joke, after we sold all the sheep, that the marriage councillor suggested he do so for the sake of our marriage.
When Rick decides to check waters on his bike “I’m off for a ride” giving details of where he intends to go, you know that on his return he would have hatched up a new plan or deliberated about an old one, but guaranteed something would have changed with all the time he had to think while riding.
Rick & Jack Jan 09_edited-2 with watermark
My beautiful red heeler Jack, who is no longer with us. Another dog we took in when someone abandoned him after Camel Races many years ago now.
This photo shows water in the lagoon and beautiful button grass and flinders grass about to seed. These memories of what our country can do gets us through the dry years, which in the Boulia Shire is about 2 to 1.
I’m guessing, but I think this photo could have been taken in 2009. 2008 our shire was nearly totally destocked, the whole 61,000 square kilometres of it. At the beginning of 2009 it started to rain, just days before we were planning to sell all our cattle. Rick makes business decisions with his head not his heart, no matter how much it may hurt the heart strings, his and mine.
ABR_9206 Rick AF

#BossMan is at home and comfortable in the cattle yards, especially our cattle yards with our cattle.
Rick and I have worked side by side for 32 years now. He has no worries leaving me in charge, with a good crew, to muster, truck and do processing work in the cattle yard.
Our first muster at Lucknow, without him, a few years back now, we just got the job done & deal with issues as they arose. We had a great successful day, good muster, cattle in yard ready for processing the next day, and no one hurt. But I had to smile when traveling back to Goodwood that night and my mobile got into range and there were several messages from Rick wanting to know how we went, were we able to yard them alright, etc etc. The fact that he couldn’t help in any way even if we did have trouble is beside the point, the fact he rang my mobile and left messages when we were out of range, made me giggle. Yes he would have been worried about the cattle but he would have been worried that myself and the crew, at the time, were fine as well.
He bought 800 head of cows and calves near Longreach once. He took we to the yards where the cattle were mustered, told me “there are the cattle”, organised a good crew for me, told me the trucks will be here in the morning and promptly boarded a plane with his Mayor’s hat on and left me with it. Team effort by crew and truck drivers seen the cattle and us, arrive safely back at Lucknow, but this time not so many phone calls inquiring about how we were going.
Another time, when Claire was home from boarding school, he helped muster drought stricken cows, organised trucks and agistment and left us to truck them. Again team effort. Good cattle truck drivers are priceless in my honest opinion. Taking the time to load as the cattle would allow, given their strength or weakness, as well as traveling a large percentage of the journey on dirt road, I was so proud of our efforts that each beast walked off the trucks into the yard where we had agistment near Kynuna.
I can thank my ability to work cattle and get the job done right to one person, my hubby.
IMG_6192 Rick Ann truck road trip Moura
Just this year Rick and I traveled to Biloela/Moura as a “two-up” team (as it states in our log books) to collect bulls, that Claire had selected for us to buy. We had to go to Townsville first, to pick up our new 2nd trailer before we started on our journey. So for 6 days we covered a bit of territory, seen some new places and country, met up with old friends and new, to collect our new “herd improving” bulls.
This is us in Winton, with our truck and trailer in the background, about to start our last leg of our journey to home.
BR5_3633 Braeside trucking Rick
An old high school friend of mine, congratulated Rick and I on our 30 years of marriage and stated “30 years is a sign of strong bond friendship, love and understanding each other” If I said all the years were “bliss” I wouldn’t be telling the truth, but proud to say that the love for each other has shone through, in good times and bad and yes has strengthen the respect for each other as well as our love.
Rick in Canberra
One thing my husband and I have shared over the years, is the love of our community. When he stepped up to the plate to be elected as Mayor one of his main reasons was that he hoped to give back to the community what the community had given his family and ours, a living, and for us a living that we thoroughly enjoy. This is a photo of Rick in Canberra, Parliament House I think.
IMG_0923 copy Rick Paton
Rick is very much a business man, he likes to achieve goals that benefit our business and councils in the most cost effective way and looking to what is best for all into the future, as well.
He is a solutions man, and so much more diplomatic than myself. Where he is most likely calm cool and collective I’m the opposite. We both have a passion for agriculture, the beef industry, our families and communities. When I get on my high horse and rant about things being unfair, especially in Ag he is the first one to say “well what are you going to do about it, no use ranting about it, that won’t fix it?”
He may sometimes regret saying something like that, hence my social media portfolio.
GJS_3728_edited-1 Claire Rick's 50th Thomas
Our billy lids and Rick at his 50th a couple of years ago.
IMG_6232 Rick & Claire in yard
Father and daughter working together again. Both with strong personalities I’m sure it is character building for them both at times, but there is huge respect on both sides. I enjoy watching the old ways and the new mix together, their passion is equal and I’m proud to say our Ag business future is bright.
ABR_0491 Rick QCL
Rick is called on by many journos for his opinion both as Mayor and as a beef producer. So when journos come to visit and need a quiet spot to do an interview, how about the shed?
IMG_5888 Rick and Harley
How #BossMan goes to town for council meetings. He had a midlife crisis and didn’t know if he should get a new wife or buy a Harley. He said the Harley was cheaper than to trade in the wife 🙂
IMG_6969 Thomas, Claire, Ann
I think we three are very blessed to have Rick as a loving husband/father.

Rick’s ambition in life is to be married to the same woman for 50 years, I didn’t realise this when I said “I do” 30 years ago, but very much looking forward to the next 20 and beyond.


  1. Anne@GritandGiggles 

    I loved reading your story, a little more insight. I am sure you could write a book on the adventures of your family. You both obviously have an amazing partnership that helps through the ups and downs. I hope Mr Sparky and I can one day say we made 30yrs and that we also grow a strong partnership over the years.
    Your son is born the same yr as me, funny that.

  2. annbritton 

    Oh Anne I’m so sorry that I have taken so long to reply to your lovely comment.
    I did read it when first posted but had terrible internet troubles last month so obviously promptly forgot about it.
    I’m glad you enjoyed our story and yes I could no doubt write a book.
    I sincerely hope that you and Mr Sparky make 30yrs and way beyond.
    One key feature, in my honest opinion, in any relationship, is communication.
    All the best and again sorry for late reply

  3. John Weier 

    Hi Ann
    Happy 30th anniversary!
    What a great story and photographs. I’m just sitting in the lunchroom at work having a beer looking at Facebook.
    Us city folk live a boring life compared to you guys on the land dealing with the elements. And then there is the isolation and lack of facilities and shopping.
    Have a great Christmas & a prosperous New Year. Give our regards to the rest of the family and your Brother, I’ll phone him Tomorrow.
    John Weier

  4. annbritton 

    G’day John,

    We did have a wonderful Christmas thank you as I hope you and yours did.

    Each to their own John, I think you deal with a great deal of elements in the city, some I wouldn’t like to have to handle every day, like traffic.

    I hope yourself and Darling Bride plus all your family have a wonderful 2016 making many happy memories whatever you all get up to.

    Sorry for the late reply, I will blame terrible internet and completely forgetting to come back and reply.
    Take care

Leave a Comment