FOCUS catches up with the very busy Juno Jenkins to talk about her part time farming adventures and the up coming play she is producing and performing in, ‘Too Far to Walk’.
The kind of woman who makes you feel at home from the minute you meet her, Juno Jenkins has lived a very full and interesting life indeed – from living in remote Kalimantan Barat with three small children, while her husband was a roads engineer, to living in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea, where she started a preschool for Highland children.
Retired Chartered Accountant, Theatre Manager, High School Teacher and teacher of kids in remote Aboriginal Communities, Juno speaks to FOCUS about the double life she has found herself living since she and her husband moved to Krambach.
> How long have you lived in the Manning Great Lakes?
We moved here just two years ago, after twenty-six years in Darwin, Northern Territory.
> What was it about this area that made you want to retire here?
We came down from Darwin a few times – John, my partner, has family in Armidale, and during our travels we were struck by the beauty of the countryside, its proximity to Sydney, its climate (some relief from the heat).
I came from cold, smoggy post war London in 1963 to what I believed would be paradise – sunshine and beaches. All those years ago I travelled the coast and remember crossing the Foster – Tuncurry bridge and thinking that this must be the most beautiful place in the world. Something has brought me back to it.
> Tell us a little bit about what you did before your ‘retired’ to the area.
I went to Darwin to look after my family, as did so many in those days. Darwin was more or less a government town, and the husbands got the jobs while the women were ‘Dragged Screaming To Paradise’. That is the title of a play by Suzanne Spunner, who lived in Darwin for some years. I think it speaks for itself.
After a few years, I went to work as a Chartered Accountant. A career change beckoned, and I was able to work in my impassioned world of theatre as General Manager of the Darwin Theatre Company – a wonderful experience. Always eager to try something new, I completed a Dip Ed and became a high school teacher. I had been teaching by distance to children in remote areas and decided to spend the last couple of years as a relief teaching children of all ages in remote Aboriginal communities. It was a rewarding experience, not to be missed.
> You retired here, with the idea of idyllically raising some cows and sipping wine on the verandah, but it became a little more than that, didn’t it? Tell us a bit about what led you to the Prograze course and what that has meant for your quiet retirement.
Totally inexperienced, we went to see the District Agronomist to ask a few questions and discovered that there quite a few other folks like us with fairly small acreages – and that there were courses designed especially for us.
We learned how important it is to manage pastures, care for cattle and negotiate the markets. It’s also a great way to meet people. When the course officially finished, we decided to stay together as a group and still meet bi-monthly. We are privileged to have the course leaders as constant mentors.
> If that wasn’t enough, you are also currently producing a play that will be showing in March at the Manning Entertainment Centre. How did that come about?
We met some great people from Upper Lansdowne Players and acted / directed with them during the first few months. I decided that if I wanted theatre in Taree, I would make it myself.
I found a director, Lisa Freshwater, in Sydney and a play that she wanted to do, set a budget and set about making it happen. Most important was to find local actors and crew. Because I was a newcomer to town and knew no one, there was a lot of leg / email / telephone work. However, we finally found very talented local people and have started on this wonderful adventure together.
We rehearsed last weekend in 40+ degree heat with no air conditioning and not a complaint from anyone.
> Tell us a little bit about the play.
Too Far to Walk is an unpublished play by Mary Morris, who wrote the very popular Two Weeks With The Queen and adapts Maurice Gleitzman’s popular young adult fiction.
However, this is not a play for children. It is a wonderful heart-warming gem, but has some adult themes.
Too Far to Walk is the story of two sisters who have spent half a century separated by time, memory, class, ideology and vast oceans.
The distance each must travel on their path to reconciliation may seem too far to walk; yet both eventually share a spirit of yearning to unify their past and future.
> What are some of the challenges in juggling the farming and your producing?
When you have equal importance to your desires and activities, you cannot neglect either. Both are challenging and time consuming.
It is our desire to be 100% committed to both, so we have to make sure that there are 48 hours in each day. We also have four beautiful grandchildren to spoil. They are remotely scattered and it requires more than a cut lunch and a couple of hours to visit them.
> Why would you not change your current circumstances for the world?
That’s a loaded question, but a pleasure to answer. We have beauty in our surroundings, fantastic people supporting us in our ventures, pretty good health and fitness and we are fully occupied doing the things we love and want to do.
> Do you feel you live a double life?
Perhaps I should say yes, bearing in mind the subject of this article – but not really. When I come in from a couple of hours working with the cows and go to my computer to see who has left a message about the play, I just have to take a second to change hats.
> Life motto:
Enjoy the journey – every step of the way. Each step is yours to take.
> Thank you Juno.