Cel­e­brat­ing a life well lived

North West Telegraph - - News - Sy­narah Mur­phy

A Pil­bara pas­toral­ist, who has owned his sta­tion for more than half a cen­tury, marked a mile­stone of a dif­fer­ent kind re­cently when friends from across the na­tion gath­ered for his 80th birth­day.

More than 100 peo­ple toasted the land­mark oc­ca­sion for Indee Sta­tion’s Colin Bri­erly, who has ce­mented his legacy as an iron man of the re­gion af­ter 56 years in some of WA’s harsh­est ter­rain, 65km south of Port Hed­land.

Fam­ily and friends gath­ered at Indee to toast the pa­tri­arch be­fore rock­ing the night away with Roe­bourne band Black Stone Ram­blers.

Dur­ing his ten­ure at Indee, Mr Bri­erly has sur­vived can­cer, cat­e­gory-five cy­clones, drought, debt col­lec­tors, low wool prices, one of the worst air crashes in Aus­tralian his­tory and the loss of his first wife, which dev­as­tated his fam­ily in 1992.

Tragedy has never been a stranger to the 80-year-old, who has had to diver­sify his skills time and time again.

From fix­ing fences in 40C heat to mus­ter­ing cat­tle, spray­ing weeds and work­ing four days a week on mine sites, Mr Bri­erly said he had done it all.

“Even on 40C days, I would make a hot cuppa when I needed a break from fix­ing the fences,” he said.

His wife Betty ad­mits it was hard when can­cer hit the wily pas­toral­ist. Now, a few years on, he’s still un­de­feated.

“We got through. It has been hard, but we’re here,” she said.

Mr Bri­erly’s el­dest son, Mal­colm, said the night was filled with folk who ap­pre­ci­ated his fa­ther for his hum­ble na­ture and his hard work.

“Peo­ple have trav­elled from all over the coun­try to cel­e­brate my fa­ther’s birth­day,” he said.

“Indee is one of those places where you feel right at home within min­utes and what makes the place spe­cial is that dad is one of the only orig­i­nal sta­tion own­ers re­main­ing since the early 1970s.

“The old boy will fin­ish his days on this sta­tion — and he shows no sign of giv­ing up any­time soon.”

Pic­ture: Colleen Gilla

Colin Bri­erly with his daugh­ter Gail.

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