A reflection of 2017

Host: Country Downs Station
Written by Nikki Elizovech, Station owner/manager

As I said in our Day 1 blog last year, the years are just passing us by way too fast! I am astounded that another year has passed us by and trying to remember what we have done over the last year finds me going back through the business diary to make sure my memory is not blurring the past 3 years all together! I remember telling you all that 2016 was a great year for us in that we felt in tune with our business, our land and our livestock and that things were feeling less pressured than previously. Well I must admit, 2017 ended up being a huge year for us all. It saw the whole family moving to the Pilbara for a new (yet temporary) adventure to manage a station that had seen years of degradation as a result of running sheep during the wool boom way back in the days. The move was a massive change for everyone in the family, both in terms of meeting new people, being a part of a whole different community and opening our minds to completely different perspectives in the management of land systems and operational methods of livestock production.

We focused a lot on rehabilitation and renovation of degraded land systems, repair and renovation of outdated equipment and infrastructure and learning what is like to live, work and play in an area so vastly different to which we were used at Country Downs. In short, we loved it. We loved the community spirit, we loved the climate (well mostly!), we fell in love with the beauty that is still within the country even when it is suffering and in disrepair and we loved the fact that we had a new challenge to increase our knowledge and experiences in this industry that we are passionate about.

Due to this move, we had to get more employees in to run Country Downs whilst we were not there. The guys we had at Country Downs were great. They kept everything ticking over for us, as well as supervising new infrastructure developments and dealing with the yearly bushfires that come through. This really was a huge ask for 2 guys to do for 12 months and particularly with the huge wet that we ended up having at the end of 2017 and start of 2018.

2017 was also the shock announcement of the closure of the Schools of the Air (SOTA’s) education system, and whilst thankfully they retracted that announcement, the impact felt by us as a family unit and the rural community as a whole, was immediate and immense when we were first informed. The fight is still not over as many of the camp schools are remaining closed. In addition, the boarding colleges that enable our rural kids to access accommodation in areas other than Perth for secondary education are also being told that the decision to closed will remain in place.

We are now back at Country Downs and enjoying the ‘wetness’ of the Kimberley again and will be spending 2018 focusing on the consolidation of our business, livestock and family life. 2018 will also be the last year that we will commit to hosting for a week on Central Station, which is a bit sad, but doesn’t mean you will never hear from us again. This week we will give you a bit of insight into rehabilitation and land renovation and the processes required when applying for funding for these purposes. You will also hear back from William and whilst we were very sad to see Samara leave us after 2 years, we have a new member to our team, Cortney, who has taken on the Governess role and will be writing about her experience with our type of lifestyle. We will also discuss many recent advances in innovative technologies and how we are now being able to implement them into our business to improve our efficiency and other various and hopefully interesting, topics about what we do and why we do it.  We hope that you enjoy our week of hosting and that it opens your awareness to some different things that you may not have known or understood. I will leave you today with a couple of photos of events in 2017.

Ciao Ciao,


The convoy leaving the Kimberley for the Pilbara.

Meeting new kids at one of the regular community events held in the Pilbara/Gascoyne area.

Our home away from home; from Feb 2017 to Feb 2018. Parts of the homestead hail from the old Onlsow pub, the Rob Roy Hotel!

A typical water point set up prior to our arrival; Windmill, tank and trough. Some of the water points were still pumping out of wells hand dug over 80 years ago!

Our new curved race (very Temple Grandin) that was constructed early 2017 at Country Downs.

A left over from the sheep days in the Pilbara. We saw this ewe way out to the west of the property one day. She definitely didn’t like the look of us and promptly carted herself and her big woollen coat away in a very spritely fashion. We never saw her or any other sheep again.

An aerial view of our home for 2017. What a beautiful place it is.