Yaraka sees in 2022 with fireworks, dancing and a serious message

Sally Gall
By Sally Gall
Updated January 1 2022 - 8:03am, first published 7:00am

You're not alone - that was the message revellers at Yaraka took out of the tumultuous year just passed into the promise of 2022.

Amid the bubbles and fireworks, Prairie beef producer Sam Fryer spoke candidly about the mental demons he had faced following a number of personal tragedies in his life.

As well as losing a sister at the age of eight and being involved in a motorbike accident while studying at the Longreach Pastoral College that nearly meant the loss of one of his hands, a workplace accident while working for S. Kidman and Co in the Northern Territory saw him perform CPR for an hour for a colleague who subsequently passed away.

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In his words, a year of torment followed as he dealt with a lot of blame and self-doubt, all the while "chugging along" with his work as leading hand.

Upon returning home he through himself into contracting work but broke down and finally realised he needed to debrief.

A lot of conversations followed, with his family and wife Emily, as well as a professional counselor, and he told the 150-strong audience that whether it was pilates or pole dancing, people in the bush needed to do something to switch off from work.

Sam, also the northern accounts manager for beef data analysis group Black Box Co and a 2021 CCA NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion, realised the importance of looking after his body to look after his mind.

"I'm not cured - you can never erase the memories - but you've got to learn how to manage," he said.

It was a powerful message for a tiny community that has been through a lot of tragedy in the last couple of years, a message emphasised by Yaraka Youth Association president Bronte Austin on the evening.

"If you're not feeling good, this community here tonight is here to support you," she said. "This is our message to you."

Proceeds from the evening, expected to be over $17,000, will go towards the Royal Flying Doctor Service, The Salvation Army Drought Appeal, and towards upgrading the Yaraka Primary Health Centre building.

RFDS nurses visit every fortnight.

YYA secretary Kate Paterson said the group's founder Tiff Davey had been very focused on mental health and they wanted to sustain that idea with the New Year's Eve ball, which replaced the B&S ball this year.

"A highlight of the night for me was seeing our generation step up and give the older generation, who have worked so hard for us, a night off," she said.

For the 137 through the gate, they were treated to music by Deal'n and a magnificent midnight fireworks display.

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Sally Gall

Sally Gall

Senior journalist - Queensland Country Life/North Queensland Register

Based at Blackall, CW Qld, where I've raised a family, run Merino sheep and beef cattle, and helped develop a region - its history, tourism, education and communications.

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