Meet Emu Creek s hottest couple
Meet Emu Creek's hottest couple

It is the middle of winter at Emu Creek Station, but yesterday’s 27C maximum was hotter than any day this year in Joyce Penny’s native Scotland.

The 67-year-old city girl from Edinburgh lives in the Pilbara with her husband, Darryl, 65, a country boy raised in the Wheatbelt.

They run an official Bureau of Meteorology weather station, which has recorded 67 days over 40C this year.

On days like January 10, when the mercury came painfully close to 50C, the couple are inundated with calls from national media outlets.

They are 250km from their nearest store and just a short plane flight away from their next-door neighbours, Andrew and Nicola Forrest.

But Mrs Penny is constantly reminded why she lives in the scorched, red heart of the Pilbara, about 250km north-east of Carnarvon.

Take, for example, Mother’s Day two months ago.

Phone service at the station had been down for nearly two weeks, so her husband surprised her with a trip to Coral Bay so she could call her two sons.

As Mrs Penny explained, it was not the destination which sent her heart soaring, but the journey.

“Out of the blue, he suggests he should take me to Coral Bay for lunch and he says, "Do you want to take the car or the plane?’” she said.

“He had built this plane himself. It came in a box filled with aluminium, rivets, instruments and a book of instructions from a French-Canadian guy.

“We flew out over the ocean, over Ningaloo Reef, and it was just magnificent.

“He doesn’t brag about it, but he has so many skills. You just think to yourself, where does it end with this bloke? He’s a dying breed.”

The couple met through a dating agency in 2000, five years after Mr Penny’s first wife died in a horrific car crash.

Mr Penny had been introduced to several women through the agency, but when he spoke to Joyce, who was living in Perth, something clicked.

“I think we talked on the phone for about an hour and a half,” he said.

“We had a lot of the same interests and we had virtually the same CD collection so we arranged a meeting.

“We like doing the same things, we like travelling, we like the same shows. They reckon opposites attract but I think that can be fraught with danger.”

The couple left the Wheatbelt in 2009 and purchased a rugged property called Emu Creek Station, which in its heyday would have had 20,000 sheep through its shearing shed each year.

These days, there are 1200 cattle on 125,000ha, and the Pennys have been forced to diversify.

“For a small station like ours, we’re not allowed to have the cattle numbers to make it viable so you have to look for other avenues,” Mr Penny said.

“We’ve got an official weather recording station here as well as the accommodation and the camping area down by the river.

“We’re hoping to get a burger bus up and running on the North Coastal Highway by the end of this tourist season, too.”

Emu Creek is a long way from Edinburgh, and while Mrs Penny would prefer a slightly milder climate, she has fallen in love with Darryl and the country.

“For me, it’s the eastern end of the station that has that Pilbara romance,” she said.

“It’s rocky, it’s rugged, and it has these beautiful deep water holes the tradition owners like to visit.

“We welcome the traditional owners here because we understand their love of this place. You don’t own this country - it owns you.”

See Thursday’s Travel liftout for a first-hand account of a trip to Emu Creek Station

The West Australian

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