Mustering the Kimberley

Host: Lochon Contracting
Written by Sam – Ringer, Lochon Contracting.

Today I will share with you Sam’s account of life in the mustering bush camp. Him and his partner Shai have come all the way from England to see and experience this amazing country and they have found their way into our team. Read for yourself what they think of it all.

3.6Bulka swamps.

As a couple backpacking from the UK my girlfriend and I were looking to complete our regional work which would guarantee our second year working visa. So we left the comforts of Melbourne and flew up to Broome WA, after spending a couple of weeks doing everything the small coastal town had to offer, an advert seeking workers to help with cattle mustering appeared on the hostel notice board and before we knew it we were on our next adventure!

The journey began in Derby where we met the rest of the five members of the crew. After a few days of getting acquainted and making sure we had all the gear that we needed packed, we were on the road heading to Bulka station, a 700,000 acre section of land in the middle of Western Australia’s Kimberley’s, set for a three month stint of hot, hard, sweaty work.

3.4Shai in the pick up truck on the way to Bulka.

We arrived at the stations homestead and spent our first night in our tent, which wasn’t as bad as we thought. The following day we stocked up on rainwater and food, we also caught a “killer” for us to eat, which involves shooting, skinning, and cutting up the cow into the different meat sections. Most definitely an experience!

Then we were on the road heading to Brennan’s yard to complete our first muster.

3.2On our way to the swamp.

We soon adjusted to the order of things. Each camp we repeated the same process:

Set up camp

Build yard

Muster – which involves two helicopters, which group the cattle together and then us on the ground in the “Bull buggies” and on dirt bikes gathering all the stray cattle and keeping them grouped together moving towards the yard.

Drafting – sorting the cattle between “Bush” (the ones we let go) and sale cattle (the young ones, which stay in the yard for the next process).

Loading – putting the sale cattle onto the truck.

Taking down the yard

Pack up camp and move on

3.5Locky, George, Matty, and Sam at “The Race” at Bulka hills.

3.1The Road train taking the cattle away.

So far we’ve done five musters all around 200km apart, with mustered cattle numbers ranging from 500-3000.

It’s been unexpectedly cold and windy at times and sweltering hot at others.

The shower is a bucket and a cup and the toilet is a hole in the ground. However, it’s a nice change, it’s not bad showering beneath a sky full of stars and the Milky Way. Not a bad view sitting on the toilet either!

As backpackers from the UK who are mostly used to towns and city’s, working in Western Australia’s outback as a Jackaroo and Jillaroo (Apprentice Cattle Ringers) has been an experience of a life time which has taught us a lot of new skills and also a lot about ourselves! And we never thought we would be calling 5:30am a lie in!

3.3Sam securing the loading ramp to the road train.