Riley Candy is your typical country boy on a property somewhere in Queensland near Charters Towers. He lives with his parents and two siblings on an 86,000 hectare property, more than 110 kilometres from the nearest town. His mum, Yvette Candy, says that nearly half of that road is unsealed.
And yet Riley is not your typical 12 year old boy. Along with younger brother, Mitchell, and sister Paige, they all show remarkable maturity and great manners. They all have firm hand-shakes and look you straight in the eye. They are smart and charming children.
Riley loves his horses, and enters competitions. “He won one camp draft, and came second in another. “Yvette adds proudly “He came second in the under 17’s, and he’s only 12.”
He has a couple of foals that he works with too, “to break them in and then I sell them,” says Riley quietly.
This family has a strong work ethic, with the children starting their school day at 7.30 in the morning, and don’t finish until late in the afternoon.
The Candy family, living in a remote area have developed a close association with Frontier Services over the years, and have a great affection for the staff they have come to trust and love.
“They’re like family to us” says Yvette and even though Frontier Services doesn’t work with the Candy family any longer as their children are too old, they still have fond memories of the Remote Area Family Services (RAFS) teams.
“Their cars are packed with toys. They spend time with the kids, and it has been good for us, particularly Yvette, to have female company” says dad Brett.
Meanwhile young Riley is not only a talented horseman; he’s a pretty good guitarist too.
“He’s really determined and tries hard at what he wants to do and gets really good at. He’s like his mother.” Brett smiles proudly.
Unlike city kids, the Candy children don’t attend normal school. They’re Distance Education students, which you might know as school of the air.
This year, Riley is off to boarding school, and while his parents will miss him, they are also excited for him.
Yvette says “We’ll miss him, but it’s the best thing for him. It’s where they grow and get their independence.
As for Riley, he says “One of my really good friends will be there, and a few other friends will be there too.”
On Tuesday the Candy family drove Riley to All Souls St Gabriels School in Charters Towers and Yvette says that on the way home her youngest, Mitchell told her “It’s okay that you’re crying mum ‘cos I’m sure there are other mum’s crying too.”
She says that he was a bit nervous, and she was holding back the tears, “but as soon as I saw one of the other mums tearing up, I did too. And it was her sixth child going to boarding school!”