Pam Crothers left the city lights far behind in search of adventure and found her way to Dirranbandi where she has enveloped herself in a sense of history that has seen her take on a significant project for the district.

Pam Crothers admits that when you grow up with three “wild” brothers, the way is paved. “We had a carefree life, riding horses, running free ¬ as you could in those days,” reminisces Pam. “My brothers taught me how to look after myself and they’d show me demonstrations on how to master ‘fisti-cuffs’, on our poor bull,” laughs Pam.

Pam grew up on dairy farm below Ingleburn (near Campbelltown) south west of Sydney. She studied occupational therapy, however upon discovering that this career was not for her, Pam returned to college to study teaching and the arts. A posting as a teacher with an outdoor education program at the time, PCAP Mobile Field Study Unit, changed her life.

“It was a terrific way for children to learn,” says Pam. “Loaded up with camping gear, tents, a bus, four-wheel drive, caravan, trailer and three teachers, we’d head bush to teach.” One camp found Pam at the Crothers’ family mixed cropping and grazing property, Booligar, south west of Dirranbandi. Established in 1864, the property has been in the Crothers family for four generations. “It was a dreadful camp, it rained and rained … we were wet, muddy and just wanting to get home,” says Pam. “At the end of the trip, I found myself on the verandah of the Booligar homestead, drinking cold beer out of a pewter mug … and well the rest is history,” she smiles. Pam went on to marry Don Crothers, and the couple continue to farm in partnership with Don’s brother, Douglas and his wife, Lorraine.

Pam has embraced the significance of history in the district. Her natural role as leader in the community has led her to coordinate the writing of two books, Dirranbandi Reflections and Dirranbandi 1885-1985, both of which are catalogued in the Brisbane State Library. Pam is modest about her efforts. “It wasn’t really something I intended to do; I was at a meeting and someone said, ’We need a book written … Pam you’ll do it’, and that was that,” she laughs.

The Dirranbandi Rail and River Precinct is the latest project of significance that Pam is championing. The ambitious four-stage project will see the redevelopment of the old Railway Station building adjacent to the decommissioned railway line that was first opened in 1913. The space will celebrate the region, providing a hub that will be utilised by locals and tourists alike.

The precinct will include a gallery, an area for community use, facilities for functions including weddings, and landscaped gardens featuring sculptures. “We were devastated when the government closed the railway line to Dirranbandi,” says Pam. “Dirranbandi is small community with a big heart. We have been through tough times and somehow we have remained sustainable; we are often overlooked, but that doesn’t stop us – our attitude is always, ‘bugger it, we’ll do it ourselves!’”

Words by Kerryn Suttor | Images by Amanda Waterman