Lucy’s tutu good, but can she rain dance?
The fortunes and emotions of graziers may be beholden to the weather but one nine-year-old girl from western Queensland has given her parents a reason to smile through the drought that has crippled their sheep station for two-thirds of her life.
“There are people who don’t walk, they leap and twirl,” Rachael Webster told The Weekend Australian of her daughter. “That’s how Lucy is.” Lucy Faggotter’s passion and success as a ballet dancer have helped her family cope with the enduring heartache of drought.
Her relentless pestering of her parents led them to sign her up for ballet classes three years ago.
Unlike her regular classes, which are delivered by the School of the Air, her ballet classes have to be conducted in person. This means Ms Webster and Lucy must make a twice-weekly trip to Longreach, about an hour’s drive along a dusty, rocky road.
The 17,000ha Mount Victoria Station, which has been in the family of Lucy’s father Allen Fag- gotter, since the 1970s, has not had decent seasonal rainfall since 2012. It received just 15cm of rain, only half the yearly average.
Where 7000 sheep should be walking through grassy paddocks, about 4000 now trot over dusty plains in search of something to pick. At the worst point in the drought, just 1800 sheep were left on the station.
But trotting, twirling and leaping over the dusty landscape is Lucy, who admits to having “a lot of energy”.
She said her dream was to be a dancer for the Queensland Ballet, an ambition instilled in her when she met the company’s artistic director, Li Cunxin, of Mao’s Last Dancer fame.
“I feel I can make them proud,” she said of her parents.
“I like to dance when Dad plays the guitar.”
Lucy’s infectious love of ballet has spread to her parents.
“We really love it,” Ms Webster told The Weekend Australian.
“When we watch it, we are not worried about what’s going on here (on the farm) for a few hours.
“So much of what happens here is influenced by the weather and you really have no control over it.”
She said the hours of driving to and from dance classes and eisteddfods were “not a chore”.
“This is the memory I want her to have of this time — the fun that she had, how great it was to dance, the people she met, what it was like to wear a tutu; not, ‘gee it was pretty ordinary growing up’,” Ms Webster said.
“For two-thirds of her life she’s been in drought, and that’s the part of her life she remembers.” MORE REPORTS P2
‘I like to dance when Dad plays the guitar’: Lucy Faggotter with parents Rachael and Allen on their parched sheep station near Longreach