The Long Paddock

The Long Paddock



John Sawyer


For my grandchildren

Hannah and Michael


© John Sawyer – June 2007

Chapter 1 – On the road.


“It hasn’t rained for 8 years so there’s nothing for our sheep to eat at home.

“Kev and I decided to take them out into the Long Paddock and try to keep them alive eating the grass at the side of the roads.”

The sheep are munching the grass and slowly walking past the caravan where Jan and Nick are sitting having their lunch. They are having cheese sandwiches and billy tea.

It is school holidays and the twins were helping their Aunty Gert and Uncle Kev look after the sheep as they walked along the side of the country road.

 “Why is it called the Long Paddock Aunty Gert?” Jan was the eldest of the twins and always had lots of questions.

“Well its not like other paddocks which are usually big square areas, the Long Paddock is long and thin. It’s not a paddock at all really but the long strip of grass between the bitumen and the farmer’s fence. Country people say Long Paddock as a joke.”

“How much longer before the sheep get to their destination Uncle Kev?”

“Well that depends on when the rain comes Jan. As soon as we get some good rain and the grass starts to grow again, we’ll take them straight home.

“I can’t wait to sit in my comfy arm chair on the verandah.”

“I like the way the dogs keep the sheep from getting on the road away from the cars. I like Harvey the best. He is very friendly”. Nick is 2 hours younger than Jan and he loves all sorts of animals. Jan loves animals too but Nick felt something special with them. They make him happy. They make him laugh.

“When you finish your lunch, you should go back and move the signs, the sheep have moved a fair way in the last hour.”

Jan and Nick first saw the signs when their Dad drove up to the sheep 2 days ago. Ken has painted “Sheep” and drawn a sheep with some red paint on some old tin. It’s not a very good drawing, but the motorists understand. They all slow down when they see the signs and they wave when they see the kids.

Chapter 2 – Tim the Swaggie

Tim the Swaggie was still sitting at the side of the road when the twins got back to the signs. “You know this is nothing like it was when I was a youngster. About the same age as you two. My father and uncle had a mob of 8000 sheep that they pushed around Queensland for 9 months. I used to ride behind on my horse, keeping the sheep moving.

“There were mobs all over Australia then. The wages weren’t very much, so the squatters could afford to do it.”

Jan and Nick had enjoyed their time so far. Every night they sleep under the stars and there is always plenty of Gert’s country cooked food. It’s amazing what Gert can cook on that wood stove in the caravan. It’s really a great holiday.

“You know that old farmhouse over there. They say it’s haunted. No one’s lived there for a hundred or so years. Way back when white people first came here, there were no doctors and if anyone got really sick it was touch or go.

“Anyway, the farmer and his wife really loved each other and they had 7 kids. People had a lot more kids back then. They say that the children all got sick with diphtheria and they died. It was very sad really.

“The farmer and his wife couldn’t live here anymore, it made them too unhappy. So they went back to the city where they ran a sweet shop. They liked to see the local kids being happy as they bought their lollies”

“That can’t be right Tim, we saw some kids playing around the house when we rode past this morning. They were laughing and joking and running up and down on the verandah.”

“Well I’m telling you to keep away from that house. No good will come of it if you go there.”

Chapter 3 – Misery Farm


Jan and Nick left Tim the Swaggie and headed back towards the mob of sheep on their bikes.

They didn’t get far. There was something about that house and Nick wasn’t going past without knowing what it was.

“Come on Jan don’t be such a chicken. You know you saw some kids there this morning. Let’s go and see if they want to play.”

“Well just as long as we don’t forget to move the sign again in an hour’s time, Nick”

Nick led the way onto the front verandah and knocked on the door. There were lots of strange noises and creaking floorboards. They were both quite scared.

Tim the Swaggie had told them not to come. Perhaps he was right.

They heard someone limping and dragging their foot along the floor. Scrape – scrape – hop. Scrape – scrape hop.

“It sounds a bit like a wicked witch or something Nick. What should we do?”

Nick knew what to do: “Let’s run!”

But it was too late to run. The door opened and there to everyone’s surprise was a beautiful young woman in a tennis dress and a very bright smile.

“Oh there you are. We thought you might turn up when we saw you up the road with that mob of sheep.

“My name is Angela. I’m sorry it took so long to get to the door, but I sprained my ankle playing tennis this morning.

“The other children are all down at the dam swimming, but they will be back soon.

“We are about to have a big feast. Cake, lollies, fruit and then some of my special vanilla ice cream.

Chapter 4 – Laughter Again

“Would you like some of my homemade lemonade while you wait?”

“Yes please” said Jan. “Yes please” said Nick. They were very polite children – most of the time.

While Angela went to get their lemonade, the twins talked about their host. “Is she for real?” “What’s with those yellow shoes?” No that wasn’t very polite.

While they drank their lemonade, Angela told them all the history of the farm.

“So you’ve heard about the people who used to live here. Well when they went to the city and set up their sweet shop, they were very successful.

“They wanted to make their customers happy and they soon had shops all over Melbourne.

“After a while, they set the farm up as a holiday house that poor kids could come to during their school holidays.

“There is now laughter again in their house.”

Chapter 5 – Making new friends

When the other kids arrived back, they all sat up at the big table in the dining room and ate their feast while Angela and her boyfriend Merv acted out a scene from Alice in Wonderland. Angela played Alice and Merv put on a funny voice and played the Queen of Hearts. Everyone laughed.

After the party, the kids got to know each other and planned an adventure for tomorrow.

They would all meet at the caravan and ride to the forest.

Jan and Nick rode back and moved the SHEEP sign and by the time they got back to the caravan, the sheep had been settled down to sleep and it was time to eat again. What a fantastic holiday.

That night the twins slept in their bags next to the fire and dreamed about tomorrow’s adventure.

Chapter 6 – The Enchanted Forest




Come back soon for more adventures with Jan and Nick.

About the Author


John Sawyer lives in Richmond with his wife Barbara. Their children and grandchildren live very close by.


They have lots of fun together.


John develops computer software for a living. He writes, goes to the football and develops computer software technology as a hobby.  He enjoys walking.



Michael, John and Hannah