Life on a cattle station is different to say the least. Despite living in a city my entire life, I’ve always loved the great outdoors so a job in the hottest town on earth (according to average temperatures) seemed perfect.
In order to extend my Working Holiday Visa for another year, I have to embark on the notorious “farm work” every backpacker seems to dreads. 88 days in rural Australia doesn’t sound too bad to me but I’ve heard my fair share of horror stories. Despite my new job being recommended by friend and fellow blogger Mel from Ifyouwanagojustgo, I spent the 19 hour bus journey from Darwin preparing myself for three months of intense slave labour.
The bus dropped me off at Fitzroy Crossing in the inner north of Western Australia, six hours to Broome, the nearest supply of booze, so I’m told. Fitzroy is exactly what I imagined a small outback town to look like. A couple of stores, a bar and a restaurant. The majority of residents live in aboriginal communities or on nearby stations like mine which is located 20km out of town.
There are even condom trees. Yes, you heard right, condom trees! To reduce the number of STI’s and unplanned pregnancies, buckets of condoms have been hung in trees around town. You have to see it to believe it.
This really is outback Australia and I certainly had my work cut out. The past few weeks have been a series of extreme highs and lows, just like when I’m travelling. My day starts at 4:30am and I often work right through until 8:30pm but this isn’t unusual out here, the sun determines everything.
Despite the long hours and lack of sleep, every day holds a new adventure and this is what I love the most. Life ought to be one big adventure and I couldn’t think of anything worse than returning to my old 9-5 office job in London (sorry Mum!).
My time on the station is split between working outdoors with the boys and cooking and cleaning at the homestead. Those of you that know me may be surprised that I have actually returned to the world of work, let alone it involving cooking and cleaning. Pha. Cook! I hear you snigger. Yes, despite being possibly the only food blogger who never cooks, I’ve rather enjoyed this new challenge. And cleaning? Well, not so much, I take after my mother after all.
I’ve been here nearly a month now and have finally adjusted to life on a cattle station. Although I instantly felt at home, I have to admit I struggled with many aspects of the job, just like any city girl would, right?
I had never cooked beef before, drove an off-road UTE, stood face-to-face with a mob of cattle, used a fencing plier or mowed the lawn using a John Deere Tractor. There’s been some horror stories alright, like the time I forgot to notice the blockage in the lawnmower which resulted in a lawn covered with soggy cut grass. Not only that, I mistakenly mowed the section of grass littered with prickly weeds, spreading them throughout the rest of the property. Let’s just say it wasn’t my finest day.
However, I think I’m beginning to ‘get it’ and what’s more, rather enjoy it. The best thing about life on a cattle station? I learn something new everyday, and not just about cattle. I’ve learnt how to fix a flood fence, passed my motor-cross bike test, taught a newborn calve to bottle-feed, mastered the art of baking pastry and I can escape from a raging bull ten times quicker than my first attempt.
I have so many crazy stories to share with you I just don’t know where to begin! Over the next few months I’m going to be giving you an insight into what it’s like to work on a cattle station, what it’s like to live in the Australian Outback and share with you my favourite recipes from my new found love of cooking.
Living life, loving life on a cattle station,