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Bernie Brady - Saddles in the Feature Film - JUST A FARMER

As I was writing JUST A FARMER," I could visualize every scene unfolding in my mind. Every detail, from the characters' clothing to the backdrop of each scene, played out in my imagination. My writing process is an immersive experience; the story takes on a life of its own, often I have no idea where it is going to end up. 


I have things from my life that I wanted to include that have a significant meaning to me and in some ways a reason why I wrote this story.


During my teenage years, I spent many weekends at Brady's Saddlery in Walcha, owned by Tom and Bernie Brady. I would repair rugs, fix broken tack, and do some odd jobs around the workshop. I would listen to Old Tom's captivating stories and humorous anecdotes. Though Tom has since passed away, he and Bernie are renowned as two of Australia's finest saddle makers. It was during my time at the Saddlery that I gained an appreciation for the importance of a high-quality saddle and the craftsmanship that goes into making one.

My natural creativity and passion for crafting were encouraged by Bernie, who patiently listened to my youthful, often unconventional ideas and dreams for the future. Bernie is a good listener, many people would pop in on weekends just for a chat, meaning Bernie would get no work done. They would give Bernie updates about the town and fill him in on what was going on in their lives.


Australian Stock Saddle - Bernie Brady

You may wonder how these stories tie into the film "JUST A FARMER." In the film, I insisted that all the saddles used be Bernie's, and I wanted to feature one of his Australian Stock Saddles in a particular scene. The saddle showcased in the film is a custom creation made by Bernie for me, and it holds a special place in my heart. It is comfortable, fits all my horses perfectly, and will outlive me, but the best thing about it is that I feel safe in it. Bernie knew exactly what the saddle needed to suit me, and he gave it just enough bling for my tastes. 


Australian Stock Saddle made by Bernie Brady.

Old Tom once told me that one couldn't work at a saddlery without mastering the art of cracking a whip. He taught me the intricacies of various whip types, including stock whips of different lengths and bullock whips. He even guided me in whip-making, although I'll never match his plaiting skills. As we worked on our whips, Tom told me with stories of his younger years as a stockman.


My father, too, had his own experiences working as a station hand and drover in Western Australia. I loved listening to these stories, as they were shared by men who had truly lived the lives of stockmen and drovers. These stories profoundly influenced my portrayal of Alec, the farmer in "JUST A FARMER." Alec embodies the essence of an Australian stockman. His attire consists of practical work clothes, his daily uniform, and he rides proudly in an Australian Stock Saddle.


ALEC - played by Joel Jackson riding in an Australian Stock Saddle made by Bernie Brady

Every Saturday, a man named David Dunn would visit the saddlery, bringing with him lively banter and a charismatic presence. In his late twenties, David was a colourful character, always joking and laughing, known for his vibrant personality and occasional wild antics. Despite my reserved and shy teenage demeanour, I enjoyed being part of the whip-cracking competitions and the banter between the men. My fascination with human behaviour and psychology drew me to observe and absorb the dynamics of these interactions.



In 2016 David took his own life, 3 days before his 37th Birthday, and only a few days before his Daughters 1st birthday. People will always ask why, but the truth is we will never know, in a moment he lost himself and we can never ask him why. I remember hearing the news and not truly believing it to be true, how could this be? A man who projected so much fun and happiness, a man of the community who would help anyone. To use the phrase used far too often ‘no one seen it coming’.


Bernie and David in Walcha ANZAC day parade, a tribute to the Light Horsemen

My memories of spending time with David at Bernie's saddlery will always be in my memory as fun, remembering his vibrant spirit, and his infectious laughter. Bernie would playfully tease me about David’s possible crush on me and that was the reason for his visits. However, the real reason for David's regular visits was simple: Bernie provided a safe space where he could talk, confide, and seek advice without judgment. Individuals like Bernie, who offer genuine companionship and support, are invaluable to society. Even today, when I return to Walcha, I always visit Bernie and his wife Noelene for a chat about the world and how we'd fix it if we could.


"Just A Farmer" is dedicated to men like David, seemingly ordinary, hardworking, and beloved members of our communities. It is a heartfelt tribute to all those left behind: wives, mothers, fathers, partners, children, siblings, friends, and entire communities who have experienced the loss of someone dear to their hearts.


The film highlights the vital role individuals like Bernie play in our communities, serving as a beacon of genuine human connection amidst the backdrop of today's technology-dominated society. Bernie's ability to genuinely listen and provide support shows the essence of meaningful human relationships that we often overlook in our fast-paced lives.

 

In a world where face-to-face interactions are becoming less common, the film underscores the need to reconnect with one another. These real and true human connections are healing, and in today’s society, we have forgotten how significant our day-to-day interactions are.

 

"Just A Farmer" reminds us that genuine support from empathetic listeners within a caring community is a vital component of the healing process. It seeks to foster a deeper connection among viewers, encouraging them to reflect on their own experiences of loss and cherished memories, ensuring that those who have passed away are never forgotten. The film becomes a powerful advocate for rekindling true human connection in an era where it's often eclipsed by digital distractions.

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