By Sasha Lennon
My profession takes me to lots of places. Last week it took me to Western Australia’s Gascoyne region.
The Gascoyne is a big place, twice the size of Tasmania but with only a fraction the population. And like everywhere else in WA, the Gascoyne is big on footy.
Travelling by road between Exmouth, Carnarvon and Shark Bay is no mean feat, and despite good company, sitting in the car for hours on end can be tedious.
So at an outback hotel in a setting reminiscent of Mad Max 2, a plan was hatched. We’d break monotony with a kick. We just needed a footy.
Carnarvon’s local sports store was packed to the rafters with fishing rods and tackle, a favourite pastime in these parts. But beneath the canopy of carbon fibre and nylon, we found Burley.
I’d been searching for a Sherrin and must admit, I’d forgotten about the Burley brand of football. I’ve since been reminded that Burley is the oldest Australian owned football brand in existence and is officially endorsed by the WAFL, SANFL, NTAFL and the Victorian Country Football League.
Travelling along the North West Coastal Highway with a pumped up footy, any danger of boredom was quickly subdued. With the footy, we had a greater sense of purpose, always on the lookout for an opportunity, a place to have a kick, any place.
Not far from the Kennedy Range, Burley was kicked and passed back and forth; marked beneath the wind turbines of Denham and handpassed on a beach against the backdrop of a pod of dolphins at Monkey Mia. It was stab-passed on the main street of Carnarvon and booted by the banks of the Gascoyne River.
That’s one of the beautiful things about Aussie Rules. So long as you’ve got a footy, you can play it anywhere, and we did.
After Shark Bay our road trip ended. But the journey wasn’t over. After a two hour flight to Perth we took a cab to Subiaco to catch the Hawks train before the following day’s match against Fremantle.
And there at Subi I experienced a second coming – Peter Knights. Just like in Launceston back in June, I chatted with Knightsy. I passed him my pen. He signed Burley. A happy Hawk, I headed back to the airport and then home to Brisbane, Burley by my side.
I love this game.