Plan B: there’s always an upside!

Host: Yougawalla Pastoral Co.
Written by Jane Sale – Manager, Yougawalla Pastoral Co.

Plan A is out the window! Haydn’s chopper has a problem with the rotor blade and he can’t fly it, so mustering at Wattle Springs has been cancelled. This and the fact that some wet weather looks like it is on the way, has made this decision for us. If we spend the money on an additional chopper to muster and the Lochon Contracting crew to bring the cattle into the portable yards and then we have rain, we will not be able to get the trucks to move the cattle and have to let them go again. This would be a huge waste of money for us so we will have to hold off for a couple of days to see what the weather does. Although these interruptions are frustrating, we must never complain about some rain filling the catchments and waterholes and bringing back the green feed at this time of year so there is always an upside.

There is always plenty of maintenance to do so Tim, Jim and Scott have been welding and doing fuel and bore runs. Much to Haydn’s disappointment he is grounded due to the chopper problems, but at least back at home with us tonight.  After spending the morning in the office Kaylie and I went to the yards to work with the horses. We say “work with the horses” because we would not want anyone to think that we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Last year we had Heath Stewart from Saltriver Performance Horses come out to do a horse school and help us fine tune our skills, so it is great to have a day here and there to work on these things without the pressure of a job to complete. Gus, Tilly, Harry and Charlie had a break from their school day and with Roxy and Sally came down to the yards and brought us a picnic lunch, veggie fritters and tuna salad wrapped in lettuce. As I said, “always an upside”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIntroducing Kaylie . . .

Kaylie is a very special member of our crew and our family. She is as hard a worker as you will find anywhere and as conscientious and resourceful as they come. Tough when it’s needed to push through the day but as gentle as a lamb when it comes to cattle, kids . . . and shaping my eyebrows! I asked Kaylie to write about some of her experiences here at Yougawalla.


My name is Kaylie Gulliford and I left England four years ago with the intention of returning after a year travelling around Australia. Instead, the last year has seen me and my partner Jim living and working at Yougawalla Station. Having never set foot in the Outback before and being a beauty therapist by trade, you could say I was like ‘a duck out of water’ when I first arrived. Obviously other than the high demand for weekly beauty treatments for the stockmen, what does a beauty therapist do in the Outback? . . .

My daily duties here at Yougawalla can vary from household duties and office work, to mustering, yard work, and tailing. My most enjoyable and rewarding role out here is tailing, but with the mustering of cows and drafting off weaners not quite underway yet I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about general day to day life out here and the unexpected challenges that the outback can bring. Whether its experiencing fires from lightning strike in close proximity to the homestead, or spending a day helping to ferry six dogs, five red kelpies, and one Blue Heeler via helicopter because the roads are too wet to drive on. It’s safe to say there’s never a dull moment.

cFires from lightning strike at the homestead.

dRusty took the transfer from the chopper to the plane and is on his way to Broome for Christmas.

Last week while everyone else was away at school camp or at our neighboring station I was awaiting Jim’s arrival back to the homestead. We were looking forward to a nice night here just the two of us which is fairly rare especially at this time of year. Jim had been on the weekly trip to pick up stores from the station airstrip on the mail plane, when the phone rang, it happened to be Slingair (our mail plane service providers) notifying us that the battery was flat on the plane that had just landed on our strip.  There was to be an engineer flying out to replace the battery but they would be stuck on the strip for a couple of hours. I asked the lady on the phone to contact her pilot and see if he needed anything while he was waiting, as you do. Half an hour later the phone rang again, it was Slingair but this time to tell us that they couldn’t possibly get another plane out due to weather warnings and could we please help. They had the pilot and 6 passengers on board.

Jim then began to make several 34km round trips to bring the pilot and his passengers back to the homestead as we only had a Toyota ute. In this time I was quickly setting up camp preparing beds, blankets and converting a meal for two into a meal for nine. If only I could’ve converted some water into wine! Once everyone was settled and made all their phone calls to notify a wife that wasn’t going to be seeing her husband in Halls Creek and two cancelled doctors’ appointments, we made plans with the pilot to get everyone back to the airstrip in the morning. Then it began to rain, and rain. We thought the chances of them getting away the next morning were slim but with a challenging drive down to the strip, Jim got them all there and the ‘rescue’ plane landed without a drama! So much for a quiet night for two, on 850,000 acres.


I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Always expect the unexpected in the land that gives and takes, or what I like to call, ‘The real Australia’.