25 December, 2022
Christmas at Kimba
Imagine Christmas in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by dirt, dust and bush. For the Raymond family of Kimba station this is their reality. Whilst they would have it no other way, preparing for the perfect Christmas day takes months of planning and organising to ensure the day is like no other for their young family.
Living 125km west of Laura and five hours away from the nearest major town means gifts, food and other Christmas goods take months to organise, grow and prepare.
Ember and Shane Raymond have been living rural for their whole married life with two young daughters, Archer Rose who is one year old and Olivia Quinn who is a newborn, and like every kid, they love the holiday season.
The station they live on is split into three sections (Pinnacle, Kimba and Bell Gordon) and is home to four generations of farmers, working together on the cattle station since it was first settled nearly a century ago.
With the family being just across the paddock, Christmas get togethers can be easy but planning presents, takes lots of time, with the Raymond’s and their neighbours having to decide what they want to do.
“We all gather and have a big Christmas feast go for a swim to relieve the heat of the day and get up to all kinds of family mischief,” Ember said.
“Every year since 2012, I have spent Christmas at Pinnacle, but everyone here on the stations has family in Mareeba and normally have to choose in advance where to spend Christmas – in Mareeba or on the Station, as it takes five hours to travel up here and in the wet season you can get stuck for days or weeks at a time.
“A tradition we have on Kimba is to go and get a native bush, plant in a pot and dress it up as our Christmas tree. Archers first Christmas tree filled the house with strong native floral scents for a month!”
Even when kicking back and relaxing in the river, work never stops. Like every business, Kimba closes for the Christmas break but there’s always jobs to do.
The Raymond’s have often found themselves doing the odd job such as fencing on boxing day or checking on fences during a Christmas Day storm.
Christmas being wet season means preparation always starts early with strategic plans put into place during the dry season to make sure they receive their presents and food without the risk of being flooded in.
It isn’t uncommon in the area for annual flooding around Christmas time to cut off supply runs, so the months of May to October is Christmas shopping time.
Due to the rising cost of living and lack of out-side work during the wet season, delivery can be expensive, but a trip to Cairns to shop in person can be even more so.
“Most of the time we have to plan months ahead to get presents organised on time as Christ-mas is normally the start of the wet season and the rivers can cut us off from town at any time between October to May,” she said.
“We do have a mail plane that comes to Pinnacle station every Monday, so gifts sent through the mail from online shopping and extended fam-ily often arrive that way as well.”
“It is no doubt that shopping in regional and rural areas means having to spend a significantly larger amount of money. Travelling down to town at any time of the year can be expensive, espe-cially now the fuel prices have climbed, but on the other hand when you are up on the station shopping is limited to online only so you can save money that way.”
To keep the cost of celebrating low, everyone from Kimba, Pinnacle and Bell Gordon caters for each other and contributes to the big feast.
Most products are deep frozen, long life or grown and nurtured themselves, including the Christmas ham.
When Santa arrives, it is like magic for the kids waking up to see the jolly man has left footprints all over the front veranda.
One of Ember’s greatest Christmas memories was the year Santa was late and caused a bit of drama.
“One year, I think around 2008, Santa was running late and ran across the flat in front of the whole family, and some of the family tried to chase him down on the motorbike to get him to say hello to the children,” she recalled.
Although different from the traditional family Christmas celebrated in townships, the Raymond family love celebrating from their rural property.
Although a lot of planning and competing with unpredictable weather, they wouldn’t change it for the world.
“There are no crowds to fight through so Christmas can be very relaxing and intimate. Swimming spots are secluded, and family and friends travel from all over to see each other for Christmas, so you get to see people you haven't seen in a long time just for Christmas which can be extra special,” Ember said.