All the small things

Host: Liveringa Station

Written by Tom Robertson

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom

Waking at 4.30 am to the familiar “knock, knock, knock” of the generator springing to life signals the beginning of another day at Liveringa Stock camp. No doubt today will be similar to many that came before it, and many that will follow.

Whether it be tailing the mob as the chopper pilots work their magic above you, yarding up, drafting, or branding cattle, fencing, assisting in pulling a bore, or loading a road train, you can guarantee no matter what day of the week it is or what task you are currently undertaking they will all have some things in common.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChopper mustering cattle

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom tailing the cattle on motorbike

It’ll most likely be long, hot, sweaty, dusty, windy, noisy, chaotic and a whole range of other emotions all rolled into one and at the end of the day you’ll crawl into your swag and do it all again tomorrow. For a split second I may have even caught myself wondering, “What the bloody hell am I doing this for?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom in the yards

So what the bloody hell am I doing it for? It’s simple. During my time studying Agricultural Science at Charles Sturt University I heard endless yarns from fellow class mates about how they spent their gap year learning the ropes of being a “Ringer from the Top End”. Instantly I added it to the bucket list and knew that before too long I had to get my fix of the North Australian cattle experience that I had heard so much about.

It was a bold decision on my behalf to leave my career as a broad acre cropping agronomist, the town which I had called home for the past six years, family and friends all so that I could venture to the opposite corner of Australia to become a ringer. In hindsight was it the right decision? Absolutely.

For me it seems to be all the small things that constantly remind you of why station life is so unique, and truly an amazing experience. Little things like the stock camp crew piling in the Landcruiser troopy before daylight, with not many words being spoken as most people feel as though it was only five minutes ago they were climbing into bed. We begin the 50km journey out to McCreas yard and as we drive over the levy bank you begin to see the sunrise over the flood plain with Moulamen Hill standing tall in the background. Inevitably camera phones begin to flicker and a mumble from the back seat says “first world problems hey”. A swift reminder that if the truly stunning sunrise is the biggest of our issues at that moment in time, then there isn’t much to complain about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATom and his horse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother beautiful sunset

Or it could be the solitude that comes with being based at stockcamp. No phone reception means no Facebook, emails, phone calls, or messages and this can sometimes last for weeks on end. At first it seems like quite a daunting prospect, however you soon get used to it, and after a short while come to enjoy it. It puts you back in touch with the simple pleasure of life such as sitting ‘round the campfire reflecting on the day’s events, reading a book, showering under the stars, or flicking through the ipod and playing your favourite tunes as we eagerly await the delicious feast that Linda is about to serve up.

7.7 Tom searching for signal (Small)Tom’s crazy attempt to find phone reception – on the roof of the portable kitchen!

A personal favourite stock camp activity is “Around the Grounds with Woodrow”; a segment that takes place during dinner where by each member of the stock camp must take it in turns to describe the highlight of their day. It may sound a little silly, and some of you may think how could you possibly find a highlight in every single day? However you soon realise that no matter how dull or uneventful your day may have seemed, with a little thought you can always find a highlight.

It is all those tiny little things that I have mentioned above that seem to amount to so much, and in no way leave me questioning the decision I made to venture to the top end. As our illustrious leader Jed Obrien would say “It all adds to the romance”. Those long, hot, sweaty, dusty, windy, noisy, chaotic days all pale into insignificance when you stand back and take five minutes to reflect on why we are all so lucky to be living the lifestyle we do.

 

 

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