Escape from the Farm

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10/20 Canberra>>>Melbourne
So, we're on the train headed back to Melbourne to spend some more time with Michael and his family. Australian Capital Territory was quite a little episode, and we had to leave much earlier than we'd planned... Geez, even this bit of the train ride is a bit of an episode, though nothing like what we just left behind. A couple of young aboriginal ladies got on at the last stop with a couple of toddlers -well, one doesn't deserve the title 'lady'. The woman in front of her made the mistake of letting her seat back. It caused the tray-table to lay on the little girl's leg, and she was yelled at, called a 'racist cunt', and told 'if my husband was 'ere he'd just kill ya!' I doubt she was even aware until that point that someone of a different race was behind her. Now this 'lady' is proceeding to yell at her own daughter, saying things like 'shut up ya cunt, people are lookin' at ya!' and then to whoever might potentially be paying attention, 'whatcha lookin' at ya stickybeak cunts!' Meanwhile her companion is just staring the other way, obviously mortified and wishing she were anywhere else. Luckily, she's off at the next stop.

Haha! The conductor just came on the speaker system to give us a very silly announcement, 'our next stop is good ol' Melee-borne' and that we can get food, drink, reading materials or 'earplugs if I'm already giving you a headache!'

Anyway, back to the story:

Somehow the farmer realized that something was up. He was very suspicious of Marine when he found out that Isabell was meeting her in Canberra. He was asking her all kinds of questions about why Isabell was meeting us in the city: 'Why is she meeting you? What's your plan? What are you going to do together?' He wasn't able to weasle much out of her though, and obviously assumed that Samantha and I were just doing our own thing.

Isabella and her boyfriend Rogan arrived at Parlaiment House shortly after we were dropped off and we learned that the plan was to simply get Marine off of the farm and away from the farmer. Obviously Marine has been really traumatized by him. She was having a good cry as we were standing outside getting to know Rogan a bit. They left to drop Marine off and then go back out to the farm to get all of her stuff. Samantha and I stood there for a minute outside of the main entrance, basically not knowing what to do next, but quickly realized that we had no desire to see Parlaiment, and that there was no way we could go back to the farm. So we called Isabell and they turned around and picked us up and we went out to the farm together. We dropped Marine off at a friend's house, and another friend was there who spoke perfect French, so Marine would be able to get it all off her chest. Isabell mentioned that there had been other incidents with the farmer that have been mentioned by one or more of the locals. Someone described him as 'creepy' to her, that his son-in-law doesn't really like to go around him, and that when she was alone with him in the car, he has put his hand on her knee.

It was quite nerve-racking to go back out to the farm and face the farmer. We were in the car and the tension was palpable. We had no idea how he would react, but we prepared ourselves for a confrontation. Worst case scenario, he has a gun... There really wasn't too much time to ponder the possibilities as it was a short drive from where we dropped Marine off. Isabell figured that he was going to be extremely angry. I hoped that he would just realize that this was coming and stay out of our way. You would imagine that a guy who claims to be such a family and community oriented Christian should be mortified by his behavior, and would not want to face us. Either way, there were four of us to his one, so we would just take the situation as it comes.

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Luckily it turned out that we didn't have to deal with a confrontation after all. He wasn't there and if his wife was, she stayed inside the main house. Unfortunately, the guest house door was locked. There was a moment of panic, when we were thinking that we might have to wait for him to come back in order to get our stuff, but a quick tug on the roll-up garage door on the other side and we were in. We packed up in a fury so we could get out of there as quickly as possible, and 10 minutes later we were back in the car on the road and giving each other high-fives, in great relief that we got out of there without incident.

After arriving back at the friends' house where Marine was, we learned that one of the friends is a local magistrate, and that action was already being taken, so Marine should be fine and the farmer should get what's coming to him. He's obviously a predator, he preyed on an innocent young girl, whose language ability was relatively poor, had no family or friends close by, and was at his mercy to even get in touch with her own mother. We were picturing his reaction when this magistrate (who's another member of his community) gave him a call and warned him to, 'get your things in order, because it's over.'

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You get to know what people are about pretty fast in stressful situations, so if there was a positive about this whole episode, it's that we formed a tight knit little group of friends in no time at all. 
It's good that for one creep, Marine ended up having close to 10 people who were there for her.

Samantha, Marine and I stayed with Isabell and Rogan for a couple of nights, and got to know each other a bit better, Marine will stick around and look for another job. She wants to do some traveling in Australia, but needs to make some money first. Let's hope this experience doesn't frighten her about seeing the country! For us the problem is also money. Australia is expensive, and we need to spend as little as possible in order to get things going on our land in Fiji. Luckily with the rail pass, transport back to Melbourne isn't going to cost more than what it takes to get across town and for food on the journey.

When we told Michael about the situation he said 'no problem, come back and stay.' Their bungalow is comfy, and I think they had hoped we'd have stayed longer than we did before. We're looking for another farm to stay at and learn until the album comes out, and we'll see what happens next.

An unfortunate epilogue: In the afternoon after we left, Rogan and Isabell's home was broken into and they had a couple of laptops and a camera stolen. Isabell is especially upset that they got an SD card that had a lot of photos with sentimental value. No good deed goes unpunished... Samantha and I offered a bit of information, though we're not sure if it'll be of use: We noticed someone wearing a brightly colored uniform shirt wandering around the house the previous afternoon when we were the only ones there. We figured it was someone checking the gas or electricity meter, so we didn't pay much mind except to note that he was about the height and build of Rogan's brother Brody. 

Samantha Chappell