A day in the life of a Kimberley Governess

Host: Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association
Written by Tayla Clark, Governess – Blina Station

Me: “Hey Siri, what’s the definition of a Governess”?
Siri: “(especially in former times) a woman employed to teach children in a private household”.

That was me early December (2017), trying to figure out what a governess was, and what the position would involve. Why did one of my former year 12 teachers think I would be ‘perfect for the job’? She did mention that it was in The Kimberley, all I knew was that it sounded a long way from home (approximately 3,826km actually).

My boss was proper impressed with my earrings, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got my job … Helpful tip: Always wear nice earrings in your Facebook profile when applying for a Governess job.

Have you ever heard the saying “Everything happens for a reason”? or “Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can come together”? Well I totally understand the reasoning behind this now.

For the past five years I spent my time working as a cashier at the local Foodland and studying – how fun, I know! To make it sound even more amusing this involved high school, university and Tafe (studying Primary/ Early Education). Mix the pressures of study with angry, rude customers and 13-hour shifts and you can probably understand why I was ready for a new adventure.

I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. What a great opportunity to work with children and experience a different lifestyle at the same time. I applied for the position and by the end of the month I was congratulated on being the successful applicant. In February I arrived at Blina Station, West Kimberley, aka in the middle of nowhere.

Being 20 years old, from a small cereal farming community in the Mid North of SA, I had little knowledge about the cattle industry and the outback lifestyle. Moving to a million-acre cattle station was a big eye opener! Literally… keep your eyes open for crocks, snakes and Bungarras! Because trust me, they are around. I’ve found that snakes like to be curled up in your nicely stacked pillows on top of your cupboard and around the rim of toilet bowls. (I’m not kidding).

Okay, so a normal day for me is:

4:30am- Alarms on stations aren’t normal alarms nor ones you can control or unplug, so I’ve found. Every morning the crew like to wake me by running their hands across the corrugated iron on the outside of my room on their way to breakfast, well guys congrats, it wakes and irritates me!

7:30am- School morning commences. Billy (my pre-primary student) likes to ride his scooter to school (a whole two rooms down). We start the morning with a mixture of maths by completing a calendar and English, by going on CRAZY ADVENTURES (walks) to take photos of new discoveries to base silly sentences on.

9:30am-10:00am-Smoko. This is definitely the best and most important meal of the day! Cakes, buns, rolls, pancakes, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit is also an option (but I guess you all know what option we all rather aye?).

10:00am-12:30pm-School. During this period, Billy has his ‘air lesson’ for 40 minutes, with his teacher via a program much like skype. Billy also completes set work that’s mailed to him, (each set includes 2 weeks of English and Mathematics work). It’s a very serious period, hence why I didn’t crack any lame jokes here.

12:30pm-1:30pm- Lunch, nothing beats good old classic ham and cheese toasties and Billy is finished school for the day.

1:30pm-3:30pm- During this period of the day, (other than blaring my music deafly loud) I go through the school work that has been completed, sort it into order, fill out reports and put it all into a mail bag to hand into KSOTA (Kimberley School of the Air). This time also allows me to plan extra curriculum activities and reflect on my work (what I could do better, what’s working, what’s not and how I can individualize the work so that Billy gets the most out of his lessons).

3:30pm-6:30pm- Down time. I like to attempt to run, as it’s a good escape from everything (even though you’re in the middle of nowhere, there is always someone around talking to you or something going on). The crew knock off around 5:30pm so from then on its Matso’s Ginger Beer and good old yarns. (The alcohol totally defeats the whole point of even going for a run in the first place, but better to run before the alcohol and not afterwards).

 The crew at knock-off.

 This is the result of being the one heading into town… Helpful tip: Don’t let the crew know you’re going to town!

6:30pm- Dinner, crumbed brahman steak is the favourite.

We are all generally in bed around 8:00pm. I know… lame; but mate if you think about it, they are long days! Only another 8.5 hours until I hear the thud of the corrugated iron again…

Let me fill you in on a little secret… my day barely plans out like that, its suppose to, but it rarely does. There’s always mobs to muster (school in the ute behind a herd), accidental sleep-ins (always Billy of course), tantrums because we didn’t complete work to schedule (mostly me), bores to pull, troughs to check and clean, weaners to tail and process, the list goes on and on. So, thanks KSOTA for being so patient with us.

Every day I get to be a part of a fantastic family and get to spend time with two wonderful children. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. As stated in my Kimberley Govies introduction on Facebook; “When you leave your family and move to live with strangers across the other side of Australia, it can be very daunting. You need to not only adapt to their lifestyle, routines, and beliefs, but also the environment, isolation, weather and food”.  https://www.facebook.com/Kimberleygovies/

Becoming a Governess is the best and most responsible (doesn’t sound like me at all) decision I have made. Even though working in retail and studying wasn’t well… let’s say the worst, I’m so glad that I chose to take the position at Blina. “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together”.

I’m so grateful that the Wood family have made me feel so at home and a part of it all, my experience wouldn’t be as amazing as what it is without them. Even though I am supposed to be the educator, station life has taught me so much. I can say I’ve fallen in love with my job and the Kimberley.

Nothing in life changes, unless you change it!