From Gatton to Gallipoli

Host: Gallipoli Station
Written by Kylie – Station Cook, Gallipoli.

Hi Everyone, I’m Kylie. I’ve been the cook here at Gallipoli for the last two and a half months.
Here is just a little about my background . . .

I grew up in the outer western suburbs of Brisbane, with my parents and three sisters. My dad is a tradesman, so when I finished school I naturally tried for an apprenticeship, and when I couldn’t get one I took the next most obvious step (in my opinion anyway). I went to Gatton Ag Collage to do a Cert III in Agriculture. That was my first taste of farming life and I loved every minute of it. Farming and agriculture is a lifestyle, not a job. I knew from my time at Gatton that whatever I did it would have to have something to do with cattle and horses and not the hustle and bustle of cities and people.

When I was made redundant from the retail job that supported me through Ag College, I saw it as my opportunity to head west. I started looking for station jobs and saw this position on the NAPCO Facebook page. I’ve always enjoyed cooking (and my family reckon I’m pretty good) so I applied and a few days later I got a call from Jacki asking how soon I’d be willing to move to the NT. What followed was two weeks of crazy shopping, packing, meeting my eldest sister’s fiancé’s family, last minute catch ups, a drive to the airport, a night in Mt Isa, a bus trip to Camooweal, and a dirt road ute ride to the station!

I got to Gallipoli just in time to shake a whole bunch of hands and be told a whole heap of names, then everyone disappeared to go to the Camooweal Campdraft and Rodeo. I went in with Jacki, Brolga, and their kids the next day for the last two days of the event (another first for me) and met even more people.
Then it was time for my first day . . .

We hit the ground running. The stock camp was going away on muster for two weeks and Jacki and I had to set up the caravan kitchen for them before they left. Once that was done and we had waved goodbye to the camp, it was then time for me to really start finding my way around ‘My’ kitchen. I don’t know about you, but I always find it hard walking into someone else’s kitchen and just start going through cupboards, not knowing what ingredients they have or where they might be, you feel like you’re intruding in someone else’s home. Well that’s how it was for me at first. But by the time the camp got back to the station, after being flooded and stranded for an extra week, ‘The Kitchen’ had started to become ‘MY’ Kitchen.

It was then time for me to get to know the camp and start putting names to faces. My meal planning notebook became a diary filled with little notes on different people’s favourite meals and desserts, what the camp likes, and what they don’t.

Quantities! That was a BIG thing. Going from feeding six (of whom I was the largest eater) to feeding a hungry camp of 17, plus the occasional truck driver or contractors. Wow . . . At least 4kg of potatoes per meal, 3kg of meat -minimum (it’s a good thing I find slicing and dicing meat therapeutic), lots of veggies (yes, these guys will actually eat veggies!), tonnes of bread, and don’t forget the gravy. Gravy with pretty much every meal. Now that I’m starting to know all these little things I find I can experiment a bit more with the meals. If I have a new dessert I’ll be sure to have their favourite dinner that night (just in case). These guys (and girls) are a great bunch of people, and they’re pretty forgiving too. If something isn’t quite right they’ll won’t say anything or they’ll let me know in the nicest way possible. But when they like something . . . they’ll tell the whole area and I’ll have other cooks messaging me asking for my recipe (then I have the job of finding out WHICH cookie recipe is the one they’re bragging about behind my back). It’s a tough job, but I guess someone has to do it . . .

Well, I should go get a start on dinner. I’m not sure how forgiving the camp will be if I don’t have anything for them tonight.

Thanks for taking the time to listen to me prattle on.