Host: Anna Plains Station
Written by A Guest – Station Hand and Friend, Anna Plains Station.
The first time I drove onto Anna Plains I had no idea how much it was going to change my lifestyle and my way of thinking. Anna Plains station is nearly a million acres of outback stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Great Sandy Desert. It is also my happy place!
I first visited when a friend from my old home town of Port Hedland was going there for the weekend and asked if I wanted to tag along. It seemed like a fun idea and as I had never really seen a working cattle station before, I jumped at the opportunity.
The first thing I noticed was the overwhelming sense of there being so much work to be done. People buzz around quickly, always in the middle of three or four tasks they are completing simultaneously.
The second thing I noticed is the care and affection everyone at the station has for each other – strangers come here and bond quickly, all part of the action and the daily plan. The ‘crew’ vary greatly in ages, origins, and interests – but work together as a tightly bonded team. I think the corporate world could learn a lot about what team work really means by spending a week at a cattle station. This crew have little interest in ‘who will get the credit’ or the next promotion. These guys are here for the love of the land, lifestyle, friendship, and the experience. I have never seen an Industry with a stronger “Can Do” attitude. Knock off time is of little significance if there are cattle to be fed or watered or a fire to fight – no one complains, it is just the way it is.
Whether you are at the station for five years, five months or five days, you are instantly made part of the ‘crew’. You are taught new things, and encouraged to try something new. You are treated as family and before you realise it you join the chorus of “what can I do to help?” There are always extra work clothes and boots on hand if you didn’t pack some!
Over the years I have seen many back packers and seasonal workers come and go, some meet new partners there and leave together, some make lifelong friends, some invite their parents to come stay. All return. Once this station and family have touched your hearts you never forget. Visitors are almost a weekly event at Anna Plains. There is no such thing as a ‘first and last visit!’
I have now been a regular visitor to the station for six years, staying anywhere from two nights to a month, whenever I get the chance. We have a saying between Anna Plains family and regulars – “Where would you rather be?”
Here are a few things I have learned since first visiting the station.
- I have become educated in where my food comes from and how it is raised!
Low stress stock handling is the key to Anna. It is the golden rule that every family member, staff and visitor live by. There is nothing higher on the priority list. For a person that never thought much about where my steak came from this was quite a surprise. It had never occurred to me that somewhere in remote isolated part of a desert there would be a boss speaking sternly to a teenager about driving too fast on a dirt road past a couple of grazing heifers. Cattle having a calm and peaceful upbringing is what matters at this station.
For people that have many thousands of cattle, it amazed me that Helen and David would drive out to far paddocks late at night to check on an animal they had noticed had looked unwell or poorly earlier the same day. It would amaze me these days if a farmer did not!
- I’m tougher than I thought I was!
Anna is full of strong women. The thing about being around strong, independent, and fearless women is that something eventually will rub off!
Helen has supervised in the yards and overseen daily maintenance for ten years and many jillaroos have had lengthy stints at Anna. Helen has taught me how the yards operate and how to stay safe in a working yard, how to remove snakes from busy areas, how to help fight bushfires, how to relocate massive tanks using pulleys, and how to drive over about every terrain! Days often start at 0530 and end at 2200.
If you ride with Mrs Boss, you get a new appreciation of what ‘hard work’ means. Whatever you think your limit is for endurance and strength – ride with Mrs Boss and that amount will easily double.
Many situations I now face in the city, around the house, at work, or out – I think of Helen and these women. Every day they assess the situation, take a deep breath, push aside the anxiety, and get in there – I’m happy to say I can now do this too! Anna has taught me I am only limited by my own perception of my ability.
- The North West of Australia is a BEAUTIFUL place!
I know this sounds strange after talking about how crazy busy Anna is, but there is another side to this remote station in the Kimberly. At 0530 in the morning when you walk to the staff kitchen, the sky already looks warm with the sun starting to glow and the view slides forever. Driving around in the ute all day on the bore run, walking out cattle or just heading to a distant cattle yard is peaceful with beautiful scenery. A day working on the station usually involves at least a couple of hours driving. In the evenings the kitchen looks out over the sun setting across the plains. As you sit there in a warm breeze surrounded by friends, family, roaming chickens, horses and the odd poddy calf – well . . . This is where the saying “Where would you rather be?” comes from . . .
Being a part of this amazing place has changed my life in a big way. Anna is where I go to relax, where I go to think, where I go to push myself to my limits, and most importantly where I go to be with good friends. So many life decisions have been made in the front seat of a Landcruiser cruising through the dusty plains of Anna Plains Station.
Anna is much more than a cattle station. It is a home away from home for so many friends and family. I never would have imagined my favourite holiday retreat would be the place I often work physically harder than any employment I have ever had, but that’s why we love it. The friendship, the challenge, the beauty, and maybe the sunset champers!