Family reunions, station style

Host: Kalyeeda Station
Written by Hannah Camp

As you grow older it is inevitable that you forge your own path, this often means leaving home and moving away. You get a job, responsibilities and limited annual leave. It’s been ten long years since our last Kalyeeda Station family reunion and ten years since I was last home for the mustering season. I am the middle child of five siblings. I have two brothers – James and Damian, and three sisters – Beanie, Camille and Wave.

Our station family reunions are quite different from what some may picture to be the stereotype. A typical day could involve anything from mustering cattle, shoeing horses, yard work, bore runs, fencing or horse breaking. Two things are guaranteed early starts and late finishes. Our “down time” often coincides with a rodeo which involves travelling long distances in the truck with gooseneck in tow and a weekend spent campdrafting, barrel racing and bull riding.

Catching up on what’s been happening in each other’s lives occurs when you’re working together on the race vaccinating the steers, riding together on the tail of the mob of keeper heifers that you’re walking away, or sitting shot gun in the Kenworth truck as your brother drives a truck load of weaners from the portable yards to the homestead yards for drafting and processing.

Catching up with family is done while working together on the race.

There are always other non-family members present at our reunions and it’s usually a multi-cultural affair. In the past, these “ring ins” have come from all over the world from Israel through to Scotland, across Europe and occasionally the odd New Zealander. This year has been no exception. We have Rosie the cook from England, Hugo and Hamish two young ringers from the Eastern States, and Amy who is a dairy farmer from Deniliquien. You then have Gareth a long-standing member who did his first season in the stock camp in 2008, Casey my best friend from Perth whose dream has always been to work as a jillaroo on a station, and Zachariah from Nookanbah Community. There are other visitors who come and go. These could be road workers grading our access road who stay for a few days, stock agents assessing the cattle for sale, helicopter pilots who arrive the night before a muster in preparation for an early start the next day.

A picture of James and I with some of the staff that become our extended family.

There have been some special moments, recently while riding in the lead I turned to look behind and check that the 1500 head of Droughtmaster cattle were still following in my wake. I saw my sister Wave riding her horse Smokin on the point to my left turning the mob back onto the road, Camille was riding on the wing answering the radio call from James to hold the mob while he tears off in the bull catcher through the wattle scrub in hot pursuit of a cleanskin bull fresh off the river country.

It’s great to have the family working together.                

Lunch is brought out by Mum who sets everything up on the back of the Toyota and fusses around making sure everyone has their sandwiches and a cold glass of water. Dad arrives soon after parking the dozer in the shade after a morning spent clearing the road. It may not be the typical way for a family to come together but it’s the only way I know.  No truer words have been spoken or in this case sung than by Australian country music singer Lee Kernigan “It’s a way of life, it’s the life we live and I’m right where I want to be and that’s the way it is”.

Me, Camille and Dad having a lunch break.

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