Host: Warrawagine Cattle Co.
Written by Katie – Station Hand, Wallal Downs Station.
The first thing that hit me when I arrived at Wallal was how far from anything the station was! I realise now this is normal for station life but I did have to wonder at the time whether I was in the right spot? The second thing that hits you is the stunning setting, desert meets coast. Red dirt, wide open spaces and an ocean so turquoise and clear and a beach so perfect you could quite happily live out your days laying in the sand with a full esky and a rod in the water. Which I quite frequently do on days off!
Pulling up at the homestead I was greeted at the gate by Lynda and a swag of dogs, all of which welcomed Flick and I with open arms and a good old tail wag (the dogs that is!). I was introduced to the team and we started to get to know each other, questions fired from all sides. From the moment I stepped onto the property I felt like part of the family, as though I was meeting up with old friends whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. Being the Easter long weekend there was no work for a couple of days which allowed me time to find my bearings, settle in, and explore my surroundings.
When we got back into work after the weekend it was all go. I remember one of the first tasks at hand was turning on a genset at one of the bores to ensure the tank and trough was full and the cattle had enough water. A lesson which has very quickly resonated on how important full tanks and troughs with fresh clean water on a station is. After all, cattle is the name of the game and if they’re not looked after you might as well pack up and go home.
The list of jobs I have done since then is endless. I’ve learnt to drive a tractor, loader, and am constantly improving my 4WDing skills. I’ve gone on bore runs and started pumps, even when they’re not so willing to be turned on! Cleaning troughs is not so bad on a hot day as you don’t mind having to jump in to get the bung out! On the homestead front I’ve helped out in the kitchen, assisted with cleaning, gardening, painting, landscaping, and more.
When the mustering crew were in the swing of it I was able to do a few days yard work, run the crush, give cattle their vaccinations, load trucks, and stick my hand up the backside of a heifer to feel for a calf. I’ve flown in the chopper, seen beasts cut up in the front paddock, and helped a couple of butchers finish the job off to put into the freezer. I’ve been able to look after a couple of poddy calves, learning the ropes of how to get them feeding off the bottle and caring for them.
Wildlife here is a separate matter entirely. I’ve held snakes, almost sat on green tree frogs in the toilet on more than one occasion and have also been taught how to cull the wallaby and dingo population using the right techniques. Bungarras (race horse goanna) frequent the house yard often and who can ignore the flies! The beach holds jellyfish, sharks, stingrays (swim at your own risk), dolphins, and at the right time of the year whales and turtles.
No two days are the same. There is always something different to be done and something new to learn. It’s been four months since I first landed at Wallal, my only regret is that I didn’t get here sooner. Why would you want to be anywhere else? Station life so far has agreed with me and I look forward to seeing where it may take me.
Thank you for letting me share my story of a city girl who gave the country a chance and fell in love with station life!