So here I am, in one of the least populated areas in the world, The Kimberly, Western Australia. Four months into my 6 months of work. Some days I feel like I have been here forever, others I feel like I just arrived. I don’t see many people, but I don’t really mind. It can be lonely. It can be breathtaking. It is always beautiful.
After a year in Clermont it wasn’t easy to head off, but I was keen to see a new part of Australia. With the drought continuing on throughout much of Queensland and work becoming more and more difficult to come by, I decided it was the perfect opportunity. I was offered a job as a governess, and it was an offer I couldn’t refuse; flights to Broome paid for, more than double my previous wage, free chopper flights, and masses of country to roam. It was a dream job.
Sometimes things are too good to be true. Sometimes they really are just that great. My job at Yougawalla has been nothing but amazing. The bosses, Jane and Haydn, are the most incredible people to work for, and the team of workers are all fantastic. We all get along smashingly!
I won’t go into much detail on the work I do. I wrote a post about my work for my bosses site, Central Station. It is a brilliant blog, featuring different cattle stations from around Australia each week. There are many amazing articles on Central Station highlighting the highs and lows of living and working on cattle properties. The many blogs submitted provide brilliant insight to station life. My article can be found HERE.
When I first arrived in Broome, I was already impressed. The flight into the town was stunning. Flying over white sand beaches, and mangrove trees, it was next to impossible to tell where the ocean ended and land began. I felt like I had just flown to a whole new world. Everything felt magical! As I got off the plane and walked across the tarmac, I could already feel my clothes starting to stick. It was nearing the end of the wet season, but the humidity was still pressing on. It was six in the evening and the sun was hidden behind clouds but still the heat was nearing forty degrees. I didn’t mind though, I was too taken with my surroundings.
The airstrip was small, and located right in town. The airport itself was like a holiday resort. The buildings all looked like beach huts you would expect to find on tropical islands. I suppose Broome is quite tropical with its white sand beaches, warm temperatures, and abundance of palm trees. We’ll get into that a bit later though. Jane picked me up out front of the terminal. I unloaded my gear and climbed into the family vehicle, not sure which directions things would go.
Accepting a job based on a phone call is a big risk. Accepting a job over the phone where you will be living at your job, in the middle of nowhere, with your boss, is an even bigger risk. Luckily, I struck gold with this family.
Jane and I stopped in at a Chinese shop to pick up dinner before we headed to the resort where I would meet the rest of the family. Dinner smelled delicious, and it calmed my nerves a bit. I had nothing to be nervous about though.
As soon as I walked through the door of the cottage rental, the two kids came up and greeted me with big bear hugs. They were on the hyper side, jumping around the room and talking at a speed of a thousand words a minute. It was all very exhausting after a full day of flying, and dealing with time change. I headed off to bed after dinner and conversation with Jane and Haydn. I was able to sleep well, feeling settled by how easily I got on with my new bosses. Things were going to be okay.
After a few days in Broome of swimming, and beaches, and green, and civilizations, it was time to make the long trip out to the station. The nine hour trip out to the station. It was going to be a long drive out, piled in the vehicle with the family and all their wet season gear. Jane, Haydn, and the kids had been living down south for the summer months. With the start of the dry season approaching, it was time for them to head back and get settled for another year of work.
The drive was beautiful, despite being quite flat. Where there were hills, they were often rugged and red and spectacular. The cattle along the road looked brilliant and fat. Although they were the same breed of cattle I was working with on the east coast, they looked very different. It was good to see what cattle look like when they aren’t drought stricken.
When we arrived at Bulka Station we switched modes of transport. Bulka is another property owned by Haydn and Jane. It borders Yougawalla and there is a road through to the homestead. It was still too wet to drive the rest of the way in though, so we took the helicopter instead. How casual did I make that sound? It was my first time up in a chopper, and it was all very exciting. The flight was breath taking, and I took lots of photos along the way. It wasn’t my last chopper flight though, it’s not an uncommon occurrence really. Talk about living the dream!
Over the next few weeks I settled into my new home. I moved into the guest house which has a view that never gets old. I took a number of chopper flights, checking waters, visiting neighbouring properties, and flying between stations. What an amazing start to the job! I was kept so busy, I didn’t have time to be lonely. Before I knew it, more workers were starting to arrive.
With the arrival of more people, more opportunities arose. One Sunday morning, myself, along with two cattle workers, Andrea and Angus, and Eve, the office worker, piled into the ute and took a trip to Wolfe Creek Crater. The second largest meteorite crater in the world, and the location of the “based on a true story” thriller, Wolf Creek. It was a fantastic day trip, hiking into the crater and drinking out now warm beer. No one even got murdered, which was a bonus!
The days passed quickly, and more people arrived. We all enrolled in a low-stress stock handling course with Jim Lindsay who is famous among Australian cattle workers. The course was great and it was good to be in with cattle again. The next weekend was Easter where we spent the days drinking, enjoying time off, and getting to know each other all a little better. After Easter work started to pick up and we all worked hard again until the Kununurra Rodeo was on.
I had spent the week prior to the rodeo in Broome, at school camp. I met a lot of the govvies from surrounding stations and got to know the mums of the other students. We had time to go relax at beautiful Cable Beach, and a bit of time to head up for a cocktail at the Sunset Bar. I was really excited for the rodeo though. The Thursday night of school camp I boarded they Greyhound in Broome and prepared for a thirteen hour bus trip.
The bus stopped at Margaret River Station (another one belonging to Jane and Haydn), where we picked up everyone I work with at Yougawalla. We then continued our journey to Kununurra. It was a drive through the night, but once the sun rose I was glad because the view was beautiful. The scenery was all very different from the first half of the trip.
We spent the Friday in Kununurra shopping and eating and enjoying town. I spent a bit of money on new rodeo attire. New boots, belt, jeans and shirt. The only thing left was a new hat! Too bad the shop was closed the next day when I went back. My wallet was probably happy though.
The Friday night was spend watching a footy match. It was a competition of Town boys vs Country boys. Unfortunately, country lost. I guess all my screaming and cheering wasn’t enough. The next night though, was the rodeo.
I had been feeling crook all Saturday, and I knew it wasn’t a hangover. As everyone got pumped up and predrank before the rodeo, I dragged myself around, feeling a bit on the miserable side. I finally got motivated to get ready to head out, and I’m glad I at least made it to the rodeo grounds. I didn’t stay late, and left before all the events were over. It turns out I had picked up the stomach flu from one of the kids at school camp. I ended up crook for the rest of the week.
To make up for being ill at the rodeo, I have filled out my nomination forms for the Halls Creek Rodeo. I am entering to compete in the Ladies Steer Ride, as well as the Wild Cow Milking. I can see it all going horribly wrong, but that’s half the fun of it! The rodeo isn’t until the end of July so I have lots of time to ponder my decision. Don’t worry though, I won’t chicken out.
The mustering has started at Yougawalla, and it’s great! With more going on up here it means the workers are up here more often doing work, opposed to always being away at Bulka. It also means that I have opportunities to head down to the yards and get a bit dirty. Being able to go help out with the cattle work makes time pass more quickly. It’s a nice change of scenery from the house once in a while.
I can’t believe I am over halfway through my time here at Yougawalla. I have less than two months of work to go. It’s partially exciting, because it means a new leg of my journey is approaching, but it’s also very sad as I have so much loved my time here. Everyone I work with is amazing, and here feels like home to me. I’ll definitely cry when I leave, but until then, I’ll enjoy every last second I have here!