Gayle calls him her "tree chaser", and often sees him striding tall across the Outback landscape, with a unique plant in his sight line. She sees him scratching in the soil around this plant of interest, filing away bounteous information about the biology and distinct characteristics and needs of this uniquely Australian flora. He smells the earth as it falls through his fingers and even brings it to his mouth to taste the 'recipe' of its habitat.
Mike has always had a passion for growing things, and, if you let him, will talk your ear off about the smallest detail of this skill of 'green nurturing'. As a small child, between catching rare snakes and lizards, singing like a cherub in the choir, he also was dusty under his robe from digging in his garden patch and inventing irrigation systems from empty small baby food tins, you could find him by a healthy trail of havoc.
Even now, you can see in his eye that glint of the small boy, off on an adventure to find the 'last / biggest / worst / best' plant, unique to Outback Australia. Tucked under his belt is a lifetime of horticultural innovation with large commercial private enterprise, which is the way to bring his plant knowledge to the general community.
Gayle had told him of the ways and stories of her Aboriginal childhood friends, and when they were brought to their knees with a family tragedy, the loss of Daniel, the 20 year old bright spark of a son, life's path seemed too hard. People all make choices as to how they deal with tragedy in their lives, as all of us face these things at some time. Mike & Gayle needed a healing journey, to refocus their energies on a positive outcome. It was obvious, as the Aboriginal youth in Outback Australia live with huge disadvantage, with lack of employment, literacy and often very low levels of health and well being, the Quarmbys chose to direct their journey to the Outback.
They decided to 'have a go' at creating an industry, for the benefit of the remote Aboriginal peoples, in the same model that Gayle's father had created the beginnings of the Aboriginal Art Industry. The premise being to mentor and create a possible pathway for people to up-skill and participate in a supply chain based within their home community. To bring gainful activity, self worth and pride, to people holding onto ancient culture and struggling to balance with modern ways.
Just two individuals, Mike & Gayle, in their trusty old Holden, regularly headed north. Their large commercial nursery at Reedy Creek, and the team of dedicated staff, supported this purposeful journey of bio research. Only 750,000 km of dusty and dangerous arid roads, many valued friends and a few years later, the vision alive and incubating the Outback Pride project continues.
The serendipitous things are the best...