Not “Just” a Backpacker – Part 2

Host: Yarrie Station
Written by Martha Lindstad – Station Hand, Yarrie Station.

So here I am, just about to finish the 2017 mustering season at Yarrie. It’s been a ball, no doubt about that. From the very first day I came up here, I knew I’d come to the right place, working for people who look after their workers, care about them, their cattle and their animals in the best way. With roughly ten people from all different backgrounds in the team, we’ve covered a lot of different skills and areas, and we’ve never had a dull moment. Not to mention the current flow of visitors that’s been coming and going the whole season. I love meeting new people, and I had never thought I would meet so many out in the bush. I don’t know why, but you seem to get to know people in a whole different way out here, than you do in “normal” life. People just rush past, and always have somewhere to be in the shortest possible time. Out here there’s a whole different atmosphere, and even if there’s always work to be done, you can still sit down with a beer in the end of the day, relax and get to know people.

Work wise I’ve been lucky to gather some new skills, and been challenged in different ways. Annabelle organised both a shoeing course and horsemanship clinic at the start of the season, and we also had rangeland rehabilitation guru Mr Daryl Hill and livestock trainer Boyd Holden here at Yarrie to train us. In all industries there will always be different ways of doing things, but the more you learn, the more opportunities you’ll have in the future, I think. There’s a saying in Norwegian that I quite like: “Den som tror han er ferdig utlært, er ikke utlært men ferdig.”, which can be translated to: “The one who think his education is finished, isn’t educated. But finished.”

The variety of work and being out in the open is what I’ve enjoyed most at Yarrie. We went out to camp in mid April, and pretty much stayed out until the end of June. When we got back to the homestead it felt weird and almost claustrophobic being surrounded by walls again. My snake, spider, and bug fear has almost gone, and I’ve realised that they’re not hiding in every toilet roll, under toilet seats or in every cupboard. I do have a python living in the wall outside my room, but Paul and I have actually become great friends during the last couple of months.

My time here has definitely made me appreciate the little things in life more. To sit down in a camp chair under the stars, with every single muscle aching whilst you crack a beer open – it can be described, but you’ve got to get out there and experience it to know what I mean. Watching the fire and its shadows against the red rocks at Little De Grey camp (my favourite Yarrie camp), or having a warm shower from an old water tank at Jinacarlie under a sky so filled with stars that you don’t need a torch, are just a couple of the great camping moments I’ve had through the season. Not to mention the nearly non-existent phone coverage at camp. In these times of social media, it’s good to see that people can still enjoy themselves without mobile phones. Another thing I can proudly say, is that I’ve lost nearly 10 kilos while working here. Nowadays you see all these different diets and ways of losing weight. My one is very simple: Physical work, lots of beers, lots of water and healthy meals from Yarrie!

I’m so happy I never gave up looking for work, even though it was extremely frustrating at times. Things do work out eventually if you really want to give it a crack, but it can take time to get there, and for me it took nearly a year. Once you’ve got one contact, you’re away. Thinking back on my job as a journalist five years ago, I simply can’t tell where I’ll be in five years. The more I travel and work, the more frustrating my future plans get, as nearly every place I go makes me want to stay. Yarrie has definitely made it into my heart, and I wish there was a working visa saying: “Martha can travel and work wherever she wants, for as long as she wants, because she’ll sort herself out”. Or how simple wouldn’t it be if a handsome bloke just turned up out of nowhere to marry me? Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that. However, it’s places and experiences like this that make your life, and life is too short not to enjoy it. Many people say I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to do what I’m doing. I absolutely am, and I’m very aware of it, but it’s also about working hard, being positive and doing a good job wherever you are. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you’re doing it properly.

A few curious weaners before this days weaner handling session.

The five year old Scandal has been my main horse through the season at Yarrie. He’s calmed down a lot through the season, and has been a handy horse for me.

The first weekend in July, we got three days off for the Marble Bar races. Annabelle normally has the job as clerk of the course, but as she was pregnant, she handed the job over to me, which I really appreciated. Coming from a racing background, its always been something I wanted to do. It was a ripper day, and Calcutta did an amazing job with the stirred up racehorses.

Whipper snippering is always good fun at Yarrie!

After the mustering season we’ve been selling our Outback Beef at markets in Port Hedland and Newman. I’ve been lucky to help out, and seeing people’s enjoyment of our local beef is pretty cool.

An important part of my job at Yarrie was shoeing horses, which I really enjoyed.

We’re using the kanga to feed out hay in the yards. A handy little piece of machinery.

I’ve done a bit of everything in the yards, but mainly been in charge of tally and drafting after breeder musters. We count the weaners, their sex and age, plus strangers cows and their calves. It’s very important to get the numbers right, and I’ve enjoyed being in charge of it.

Yarrie offers a lot of different scenery from riverbeds to rocky hills, amazing gorges, and flat plains. This photo was taken during our river muster.

One of my favourite spots from the mustering season. Coming down the Chimingadgi creek and overlooking one of the many waterholes.