by Lexie Simmons
A Woman’s Life on Victoria River Downs 1948–1958
In 1948 young Adelaide girl Lexie Simmons went to live on the great Victoria River Downs station in the remote outback of the Northern Territory. Before she knew it she was married to a head stockman and thrust into the role of ‘bush missus’.
It was sink or swim – she swam! There are books aplenty about legendary stockman, drovers and station cooks, but the equally legendary station ‘missus’ has been neglected. Women in the outback faced greater challenges than the men. After all, the men had plenty of their own company, and they didn’t become pregnant!
The ‘missus’ often endured great isolation, and had to master many skills: butchering cattle, salting beef, making bread, minor surgery, peace-keeping among the station Aborigines, cooking for fifteen or twenty, helping out in the bronco yard, killing the odd snake, and ‘managing’ some of the cantankerous white men who drifted through the outback. Lexie Simmons mastered all these skills, and more, and survived to become a great ‘bush missus’.