Remote students countdown to Christmas family reunions

SCHOOL MATES: Floyd Keighran, Peta Watts and Eloise Simudvarac all board at Callistemon House.
SCHOOL MATES: Floyd Keighran, Peta Watts and Eloise Simudvarac all board at Callistemon House.

Most teenagers enjoy the idea of having space from their parents.

But for the teens who live hundreds of kilometers from their homes, parents and siblings, the novelty can wear thin pretty quickly.

Callistemon House is a boarding house isolated children who come to Katherine for high school.

The boarding house caters for 20 boys and 20 girls from pastoral families and remote communities.

It is a 17 hour round car trip for Year 10 student Floyd Keighran to visit his parents.

“I usually get home most holidays but I have played a lot of sport this year so I didn’t get home as much,” Mr Keighran said.

“Sometimes I do get homesick but I just try to do what my mum and dad tell me. They say to do my homework and get a job and enjoy it all.

“It helps that I have my little brother here too.”

Peta Watts, whose family lives in Wubalawun, said she plays a lot of sport to combat the loneliness. 

“Yeah I get homesick a lot, I am homesick right now,” Ms Watts said.

“I have not seen my family in about two months and where they live there is no phone reception so that is hard.

“They need to ask my parents permission for me to go out on leave but that is hard because they do not have reception a lot of the time,” she said.

“I am really excited to go home for Christmas and spend time with my family, especially my baby nephew.”

While some of the students at Callistemon House struggle living away from their families, others love the experience.

Eloise Simudvarac’s parents both live in different states.

“My dad is an opal miner in Coober Pedy in South Australia and my mum lives in Brisbane,” Ms Simudvarac said.

“I like living with my friends and having freedom.”

Anna Marie Collins has to make a 10 hour round trip in the car to visit home in Urapunga.

“I am really excited to go back and see my family these holidays,” Ms Collins said.

“I don’t really get homesick because I have lots of other family living in Katherine and I play a lot of sport.”

Callistemon House manager Jane McDonald said the hostel tries hard to help students settle into the Katherine community.

“They come from all over, as far south as Epenarra, east to Borroloola, west as Timber Creek and north to Pine Creek,” Ms McDonald said.

“We do a lot of afternoon activities, there are so many community events, sports, music and arts in Katherine.

“We make a concerted effort to involve them in as many things in the Katherine community as possible.”