Host: Blina Station
Managers/ Owners: Manager- Matt Wood. Owners- Jumbuck Pastoral
Region: West Kimberley, Western Australia
Nearest town for shopping, doctors etc: Derby – 130km
Nearest roadhouse: Willare Road House, Fitzroy Crossing
Number of cattle: 24,000 head
Number of staff: approx 13 during the high season at Blina and Ellendale alone
Size of station: Approx 1 million acres
How often and how the mail is delivered: It is collected from town fortnightly
How often and how the stores shopping is done: Currently once a fortnight a store order is collected from town.
How far off the bitumen you are: 13 km
My name is Connie Gray and I live on Blina Station in the West Kimberley Region of Western Australia. My Partner Matt Wood has managed Blina for Jumbuck Pastoral for the past 5 years, and I am just finishing my first year on Blina, with many more to come!
The Blina homestead is located 150kms East of Derby; we are essentially halfway between Derby and Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Hwy. All of our stores and post are collected from Derby (about a 300km round trip!!). The Blina management area is made up of 4 leases – Blina, Ellendale, Calwanyadah and the Eastern half of Kimberley Downs. A total land area of about a million acres. Most of the pastoral lease lies between the Great Northern Highway and the Gibb River Road to the North.
Blina carries a heard of approximately 20,000 head of Breeding Cows, mostly Red Brahman content and our primary market is for Live Export.
Mustering cattle to homestead yards
Throughout the mustering season (April- November) we have about 11 staff, including a boreman, grader operator, helicopter pilot, Cook, plus Matt and I. Our outstation, Ellendale, is home to Andy Hallen, along with his wife Ann and their 4 children. Andy is the boreman for Ellendale and the northern half of the Blina Management Area. (You will hear a bit about the Hallens later this week!)
All of our mustering is carried out with horses; we have a horse plant of about 70 horses, with quite a few colts coming along for the 2013 season. We use Helicopters to muster the cattle in to a designated spot, where they are blocked up and ‘quietened down’ by the stock camp workers on horseback, the mob is then walked to the yards. This process is called ‘Coacher Mustering’.
Now about Matt and I.
Matt grew up on the Nullabour Plain, where his father managed Rawlinna Station for Jumbuck.
It seems that Matt was always destined to run cattle stations, as a child his siblings played a game called ‘melon town’ in which they ran large pretend stations- his brothers had sheep stations, while Matt ran cattle. Matt completed his secondary schooling at Aquinas College in Perth and from high school came to the West Kimberley, where he worked in the stock camp at Meda Station. From Mead, Matt went contract mustering in QLD and the NT, then on to run the camp as head stockman on Dellamere in the NT. Matt took on a huge job as Manager at Blina at the very young age of 23, where he has taken Blina from strength to strength ever since.
As for myself, my parents actually met on Kimberley Downs and I grew up between the Kimberley, the Pilbara and Perth. I completed my schooling in Perth and obtained a Tertiary Education at Curtin University, finishing with a Bachelor of Commerce, maj Business Law. (Not that the cattle care too much about my knowledge of the Corporations Act!!!!) I met Matt during my final year of uni, at Fitzroy Rodeo, and I worked a season at Ruby Plains in the East Kimberley before I moved to Blina to start an exciting chapter of my life with Matt.
This week on central station I hope to share a part of this wonderful life we live on Blina and to help people understand that working on northern cattle stations is so much more than just a job, it is our way of life.
Host: Blina Station Written by Constance Wood Holding Cattle (Photo Credit Yasmin Gray). At Blina, we have 15 breeder paddocks and they are mustered twice a year. The reason we muster twice a year is so that our cows are able to put on weight again over the wet season and therefore get back in […]
Host: Blina Station Written by Constance Wood I was getting really stumped about what to write for Central Station and worried that I was running out of ideas for interesting and relevant things to write about. I turned to our lovely station cook (who is also my mother’s close friend) and my sister in law, […]
Host: Blina Station Written by Constance Wood Being on a station isn’t just a job. It is a lifestyle choice. I often joke that Matt manages the stations, and I manage the manager. Our life revolves around the station, sometimes it is hard when you have plans to attend a party or are out at […]
Host: Blina Station Written by Constance Wood My husband has two wives. One is tall and blonde, with a quick temper and a big smile. The other is warm, brown and at times, unforgiving. Sometimes she demands all that we have. She is not truly his, she belongs to another man but he loves her […]
Host: Blina Station Written by Constance Wood I never knew that snakes drank milk. I had never thought about it. When I was visiting a neighbouring station last year, the cook there told me that milk powder attracts snakes. Incredulous, I followed the python we were looking at, straight to the open bag of powdered […]
Host: Blina Station Every year, about December – Matt and I receive a swag of resumes from the Jumbuck head office to draft and select the coming seasons station hands. When you split them between girls and boys – we have about 7 female applicants to 1 male for the station hand positions. I attribute […]
Host: Blina Station When I tell people that we muster on horses, images of handsome ringers on horseback, dashing helicopter pilots and beautiful McLeod’s Daughter-esque jillaroos with pretty bandannas, tight wrangler jeans and perfect hair may come to mind for some. But often it is a long hard slog, long days in the saddle and […]
Host: Blina Station Written by Matt Wood We always hear about the Managers, the Headstockmen and the Ringers that embody the station life. However, all too often we forget about a group of people that do a huge amount of skilled and important work behind the scenes to keep the station running. The Boremen and […]
Before the wedding was the proposal- read the story here. Host: Blina Station I’ve never been one of those girls who dreamed about their wedding. To be honest, I thought that getting married and living happily ever after was one of those things that happened to everyone else. I was too complex, too torn between […]
Host: Blina Station My cool calm and collected partner was unusually nervous as we headed from Blina to Broome for the last rodeo of the season, followed by the Broome Cup. He was twitchy and weird, watching saddle bronc riding flat out on his phone and being cagey. I was getting a tad annoyed, at […]