Remarkable women: Thea Brown

This Remarkable Woman of Girl Guides WA is Thea Brown. Find out what she had to Thea Brownwatch out for while Girl Guides swam in a lagoon!

The billy of water would not come to the boil – the fire was not yet hot. It had been allowed to burn low so that hot coals could be heaped over flat rocks. Now the damper had been removed from the rocks and eaten. It was time to climb back into the OKA, leave the rock pool with its pretty water lilies, and head back to the community. A resourceful Guide came to the rescue, throwing some tea leaves into the warm water.  They settled on top.  No worries. The Guide whipped off her skirt and strained the ‘tea’ into waiting mugs. We drank hurriedly before heading off over the rough Kimberley terrain after a bush tucker adventure with the Kalumburu Goorumba Guides.

Over the years in Guides, Rangers and later as a leader I learned many skills, so that I could be prepared for any eventuality.  My hardest ever challenge was to swim 50 yards – mother drove me to a heated pool the other side of Melbourne once a week for lessons. Test passed, I have never again swum that distance!   Nor put my head under water!  Just as well I have never been required to rescue anyone.

Challenges have been a constant part of Guiding. Throwing a rope over a branch 3 times my height, changing the sheets of a bed with a patient in it, and the Holger Nielson method of artificial respiration were mastered. From early Guide days I loved knotting, flags and ceremonial and compass and mapping. These eventually led me into orienteering and rogaining. As the Outdoors Activity co coordinator years ago it was my privilege to establish an orienteering course at Paxwold and introduce rogaining to our program.

Guiding has constantly thrown up challenges such as taking on a company as leader aged just 17, and many and varied appointments over the years. On a training and support trip through the Pilbara and Kimberley as Training Adviser I much admired the work and commitment of leaders in these remote areas. When asked if I would consider being RC for the Kimberley I readily accepted. There were long lonely drives in hire vehicles, flights to and from Kalumburu in tiny aircraft and heat and humidity to contend with. But oh – so many very special memories remain. Having moved out of a hot tent one night to sleep under the stars I was told next morning about king browns that sometimes slithered into a sleeping bag. On that camp I did crocodile watch while the girls swam in the lagoon. Setting an orienteering course at Barn Hill Station, I noticed a huge perentie  lurching along the track. Being the only vertical thing in sight in the red pindan scrublands I hurriedly changed direction.

Kalumburu Guides attended a Lone Guide camp at Paxwold

Kalumburu Guides attended a Lone Guide camp at Paxwold

The first Promise Ceremony at Kalumburu, under the stars on the banks of the King Edward River, followed by a campfire, will remain in my memory for ever.  A little lateral thinking solved the problem associated with another Promise Ceremony at Kalumburu – that of Leader Leonie’s Assistant Katie. Invited guests included SC Janis Wittber, at home in Murdoch. I conducted the unique and memorable ceremony by Teleconference from my lounge chair in Kalamunda.

‘Being Prepared’ did not prepare me for the  loud  BANG in a tiny aircraft bound for a remote Kimberley community.  A washing machine had slipped against the door which swung open. Luckily the two occupants and the crate of chooks did not fall out. There have been many highs and a few traumas to deal with, but for 60 years Guiding has been a way of life and a privilege.

Story supplied by Ann Miller.

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