Host: Mt Bundy Station
Written by Sue Witham – Owner, Mt Bundy Station.
If you have ever had to sell the family farm, all the livestock, arrange a clearing sale, pack up 15 years of house and farm equipment, two sulking teenagers, a six year old, five horses, four mad kelpies, and the family ginger cat to a new home, and then drive six days and 4500km away, you will have an idea of the stress our Mt Bundy family went through to move to a new start in the Northern Territory.
You are probably asking “Why?”. Well, that was eight years ago and the cattle industry was prosperous, our family had outgrown our family owned mixed farming partnership in southern WA, and we were keen for a new challenge. Both my fairly young parents had just died suddenly and life was as they say, very short. After much deliberation, hair pulling, door slamming, and tears (and that was just me), we eagerly headed north to take up a small historical cattle station with a fledgling tourism venture just 110km south of Darwin.
We had stud cattle and feedlot sheep and cattle in WA and looked forward to the challenge of Brahman cattle and the northern export market.
Well as you may imagine we all had a fairly steep learning curve on how to deal with tourists, clean guest houses, and live in a tropical environment. As a good old farmer’s wife I was used to feeding shearers and contractors of all sorts, but taking over a B&B and serving meals at all hours of the day to non-English speaking French, Italian, and German strangers was a humorous occupation. The sulking teenagers were the main source of exasperation. Because we had dragged them kicking and screaming from their boarding school friends, their beloved farm, and all they knew and demanded that they WILL enjoy the new enterprise their wise mother and father had arranged for them, of course they rebelled!
Our 13 year old son and 15 year old daughter timed the rebellions well . . . just as I was serving the overseas guests! I look back now and wonder how the hell we survived this. We had arrived like a travelling circus in the middle of the peak tourist season to live in our Camper Trailer for four weeks while the ex-owners slowly moved their belongings from our new house (which also contained four Bed and Breakfast Rooms).
Our four kelpies, straight off the farm and used to chasing sheep for a living had been trapped in the horse float with the ginger cat, two motorbikes, lounge chairs, and the TV for the six day journey on the road. They spent the 1st week barking at every vehicle that came down the driveway, and after about 100 tourists they decided they were having no effect at scaring the strangers and moved on to chasing the wallaby population and having “bark offs” with the local “Barking Owl” population.
While still learning the hospitality business we were also busily schooling the two sulking teenagers via SIDE . . . the School of Isolated and Distance Education. Our youngest daughter was happily enjoying time away from all this chaos at the nearby (3km) local primary school in Adelaide River. Unfortunately the nearest high school was 110km away . . . It was very hard to keep the 13 year old son concentrating on school work when he had been released from boarding school prison and thrown into a 13 year old boy’s paradise of barramundi fishing, pig hunting, crocodile dodging, buffalo chasing, and cleanskin (unbranded) cattle. As you can guess his life wasn’t too bad now.
Scott, my husband, was working out his new domain and sourcing a supply of cattle to start our herd and get back to doing something familiar. Repairing dilapidated fencing and water points were the first priorities. The nine houses on the property were all screaming for attention too, and being the “all round can – fix anything” farmer, Scott also transformed the 1960’s American built homesteads into a marketable accommodation product.
Check out our next blog to see how we survived.