Australian Country

Hats off to the bush

She’s battled family dysfunction, depression, bulimia and the tragedy of her husband’s workplace accident that rendered him paraplegic. Yet every morning, Waltraud Reiner practises gratitude for the things she has rather than the things she hasn’t.

Waltraud grew up in relative poverty on a tiny farm in south-eastern Austria. Although she says the numbers were different, the life had much in common with the people she now encounters in outback Australia. “Our farm was two acres plus an acre of forest,” she recalls. “But we had pigs, chickens and rabbits and they made us self-sufficient. We’d go to town once a month to buy rice, salt and flour, but apart from that we grew everything we ate.”

There was no room for luxuries in this upbringing and, while Waltraud now appreciates a daily diet of black bread, homemade butter and jam, she dreamed of the option of white bread and processed sausage. It was a huge concession for the self-described peasant girl, whose grandparents could neither read nor write, to be allowed to study fashion design in Graz. “My mother thought it was a finishing school,” Waltraud says. “If

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