Bigger than Ben-Hur – A Party in the Outback

Macdonnell wedding

By Pauline MacDonnell

If you lived in the middle of Brisbane, few would ever consider hosting their own 40th birthday party in their home or backyard.   The idea of throwing a 21st birthday or better yet their own wedding at home is just not a thought worth entertaining.   It would be so much easier to book a restaurant or a venue, let people who do this for a living host the function.  No one wants to be worrying about a large group of people in their home inspecting the dust on their book shelves or raising an eyebrow at the missing pantry door.

bricky, electrician, plumber

Justin aka Jack of all trades


The truth is though, out west, it is quite common practice to throw a large party in your garden, a 21st, a 50th or even a wedding.  Justin and I were married in my mother’s garden, on the cattle property I grew up on in the beautiful Arcadia Valley, 8 hours northwest of Brisbane.  We had 150 guests and it was an event bigger than Ben-Hur.  I remember at the time my soon to be father-in-law trying to persuade us to move the wedding to Toowoomba, as it was such a lot of pressure on my poor family trying to prepare the house and garden for all these people.  Little did he know at the time, one of the main reasons you throw a party at home is to make sure all those annoying little jobs around the house that have been on the “to do” list for the past 10 years, suddenly become a priority and things just magically start getting done!  If a wife has been staring at a new exhaust fan she’s been waiting to have installed into her kitchen for the past 3 years – throw a party, it’ll happen overnight.  If you’ve had a pile of rocks stacked in the corner of your garden waiting to edge that garden bed for the past 6 years, throw a party – it’s amazing what can happen.  If the bathroom vanity is 10 years overdue for an upgrade, if your front entrance needs graveling, if the veranda needs re-gauzing, hell, if the whole house and garden needs a face lift – THROW A PARTY!!! So while my father in-law was feeling sorry for my mother, Mother was having a wonderful time ticking 10 year old jobs off her list.

grid installation

Grid Installation


This is how I’m feeling about the Wallaroo Discovery Centre at the moment, which is where people stop and stay during their visit to our 71,000 acre working cattle property nestled within the Carnarvon Ranges.  Through our newly established partnership with Craig & Meryl Eddie from Boobook Ecotours based in Roma, Queensland, we have opened our property up to tours and have a group of Americans arriving in September and staying with us for 5 nights.  Although the Discovery Centre looks fantastic, there is a list of jobs Justin and I wanted done before their arrival – nothing better than a deadline to trigger action.  Powerpoints have been fitted, grease traps installed, furniture is being built, pot plants potted, unsightly tank stands removed, the last four tent sites have been built, a new front entrance and grid installed, and finally the Discovery Centre is now protected by a bull proof fence!!!  Not that the bulls were causing any damage, we were just sick of shoveling up their deposits throughout the grounds!

So my advice to you, especially to any patient wife out there waiting for her husband to help her with “one of those jobs,” instead of threatening divorce, throw a party – you might be surprised at what can be achieved with something as simple as a deadline!

Want to come and check out one of Australia’s wildest frontiers?