Host: Noreena Downs Station
Written by: Kate Paull – Owner/Manager, Noreena Downs Station.
So I’ve come home to have lunch after my bore run and I realise there is a wee boo boo, I did say to Central Station that I was going to produce seven blogs and I don’t like to go back on my word, so this blog will be random as hell and very much Kate Paull style to the max!
What do you picture when you hear station person, Jackeroo or the word grazier?
For some and I mean ‘some’ you may imagine a station person wearing an big hat, western boots, wrangler jeans, with a hobble belt loosely hanging on the hips or a belt with a big shiny buckle and a checked shirt with a toned body only a gym bunny could maintain. Or maybe someone who looks rough as guts like out of a western movie spitting, chewing tobacco, and cursing their head off with a pistol at their hip redneckilly firing at anything that moves . . . Or maybe the girls look like McLeod’s daughters in flash jeans, clean as hat with their hair worn long and untied under the hat, maybe some makeup and a flash as shirt fitted and prim and they bear no scarring or weathering only the looks of a model and riding off into the sunset aboard a well presented solid horse.
Well pastoralists (station people) come in all sorts of looks, shapes, sizes, and styles. They can wear all sorts of things such as sweatshirts, polos, shorts, jeans, belts, akubra’s, thongs, farm boots, caps, floppy hats, sneaker boots, older work shirts that are just about buggered or newer or flasher style shirts. They can look like models if blessed with the looks, they can be short, chubby, solid, tall, skinny as a rake, or even weathered in the hands and face from years of working outside.
Pastoralists sometimes do ride off into the sunset to enjoy their surroundings and the delights of the sunset colours and maybe their heading home on their nag (horse) after a long days work, but not all ride off into the sunset on horses or sunset at all. There are buggies, choppers, gyrocopters, planes, bikes – four wheel and two wheel, bull catchers, and many other contraptions
As you can see we are a mixed bunch which is good because it brings variation and culture to the pastoral industry. It’s no point us pastoralists being in the same matchbox – all the matches look the same. Never put your eggs in the one basket. We were all meant to be different.
So it’s not about how they dress or what flash horse they own, it’s about their actions, what they do for the industry, and as long as their heart and head is in the right place that’s all that matters.
A few times I have been told I don’t act or dress like a station person. I can understand why for I don’t always wear my akubra or Stetson that my husband gave to me as a gift cause I have a weird shaped head that doesn’t let my hats stay on, I try but they just keep coming off, so I stick to a lot of caps (current cap I am wearing has Niffy’s cattle export design on it). I generally always wear shorts even in winter because I HATE JEANS! Yes that’s right I would rather go cold than wear jeans except I bend to that on minus celsius days where I will actually consider putting a pair on. If I do wear jeans I prefer blokes wranglers, also due to me not wearing jeans I don’t wear belts (only once in a blue moon), shirts well they are an interesting collection from polos to ladies work shirts to blokes work shirts to some seconds scrap I have scored.
These days for work I have a penchant for blokes shirts due to them being longer than the ladies, ladies are fine for a bit of style and prettiness (the shirt style) for the day, it’s also great when the shirts are older as they get thinner and great for aircon shirts (allows the breeze through the material). I don’t really talk about station life in general unless probed or if I’m excited about something or what I am doing now – blogging – this digging myself a hole and another reason for why some might not think I’m a station person is more than likely I’m a girly girl kind of girl with style of dress but not looks as I lucked out there.
I love fashion, jewellery, and shoes.
Yep I can shop up a storm when in Perth hitting up stores such as Dotti, Jeanswest, Review, Just Jeans, Sportsgirl, Portman’s, Forever New, Cue, and Temt. I love the colours (except winter colours), textures, materials, styles, and cuts. I must say I’m no good at styling myself as I seem to run with my own sense of fashion although I try to be Sassy, I own a lot of pink and blue bits and bobs, pink is my so called ‘Kate master colour’. . . I just struggle to get past pink.
I’ve even tried the Boxing Day sale at Myer but holy white man that is a stampede and not fun or more likely not my level of shopaholic. I’ve even been in that situation a few times where you will be in a ladies clothes shop, you’re at a rack of clothes you spot something you like the look of and there is only ONE left you grab one side of it to start to pull it out yes it’s looking good it’s your size then another lady whom you have no idea who she is flicking through the same rack and without saying a word is all of a sudden nearly sidled up near you and has put her grubby paw on your item on the other end and you haven’t even got it off the rack fully yet. I mean come on if they don’t let go quick smart you know you have competition this is when I put on my innocent smile and say coyly “Oh sorry I’m in your way” and the not so nice ladies will not let go – oh well you win or they will walk off a few feet and keep an eye on the item, this is when you snatch it quick and trot off nah nah I got it (good school girl stuff), most of them are kind hearted and walk off.
As my husband tells me I am like an emu or bowerbird, “You like things that are shiny and colourful” or “I bet you got distracted when you saw the shiny and colourful stuff”.
I like the idea of killer stilettos but have never succeeded in keeping them on past three or four hours so I bow to you ladies and drag queens that can do this. Imagine a pair of stilettos with a compartment in the heel that you can stash stuff such as a Leatherman with a flat head and Phillips head screwdriver, wee knife, bottle opener and tweezers and maybe in the other heal some strong tape (adhesive/double/stickable) and maybe even a mini shifter (adjustable spanner) or a ratchet spanner that can change sizes (little sizes) now that people would be a good heel for a fun job.
Nathan, Joe, and I are flying to Melbourne this week to go see Toby Keith live in concert and see Nathan’s family and friends and check out Victoria as Joe and I have never been. I got up really early this morning to start packing my suitcase so it’s all ready for our adventure, groan I’ve done it but by god that suitcase is too full! I can’t even zip it up yep I’m one of those people I always take tooooo many clothes, I mean a girl just never knows when you need certain things right, so at current the suitcase is severely overflowing, so tonight I will have to have round two with it ah sigh.
With me telling you’s about my love of fashion etc. might seem quite feminine to the max but here’s a bit for you blokes out there, I LOVE TOOLS. Yes some women love tools and what they can use them for to fix or make things, I get a real kick out of heading to a tool shop or hardware with my husband who has every tool under the sun generally I walk out with more tools than him as I’m always looking for new tools to help me with my work and upgrade my two toolboxes that I have kitted out.
I do also own another toolbox given to me for a Christmas present from Nathan. I’m a huge believer that all ladies should know the basics tools, names, and uses if they wish. I feel if they can fix something at home instead of waiting for hubby to do it then it’s a massive confidence booster for her and a huge pat on the back and maybe a beer for her too, so you blokes out there if you have a missus that probably wouldn’t mind wielding a tool (if not already done so) give her a crack you might be surprised.
I also love ordering parts for vehicles and heaps of other things on Noreena, I only know the basics in mechanics and always keen as mustard in learning new parts and what they are called.
I wear jewellery to work but minimal (earrings, wedding ring, and a couple of silver bangles and maybe a necklace). I love junk jewellery (real jewellery at this rate would break my bank) and pearls – what’s that saying every lady should own a set of pearls, fake pearls are OK right?
I even like painting my nails although it doesn’t stay on for very long, I have way too many different coloured nail lacquers the decision to pick a colour for use can be mmm and um and lately have discovered these special shaped for painting shapes and pics on. I do wear makeup when I go to the city, although my application is not flash and I probably look atrocious. I also own way too many hats and fascinators, millinery is just so exquisite and stylish.
I love it when my hairdresser in Newman Brooke cuts, colours, and tames my always feral hair, she is a wiz at getting my fizzy locks to do as they’re told although I give it a day and it’s gone back to its own berserk style again.
Just because I’m girly girly doesn’t mean I am in the clouds – airy fairy (some might think debatable) or I don’t like getting dirty (one of my favourite things to do) or handling yukky stuff such as poo or wee that get on your hands from bang tailing cattle or picking up a newborn calf even if it still has afterbirth on it, going on a bore run in a ute with no aircon in 41 to 50 ish Celsius degree heat, putting up with dust from mustering or the cattle yards or working long hours, picking out yard boogers, castrating Mickey calves, popping abscesses on cattle’s necks so they can release the mayonnaise coloured yuck (pus) to heal, breaking a nail or singeing my hair (redhead matches can be dangerous), popping a cows prolapsed back in or getting winded by the draft poles, bike handles (breast stabbed several times) or some cranky ass cattle beast that thinks they should pick on me (rubbed, bunted, charged).
I don’t cry at first from these things but I get shock later and have a wee sob – I wouldn’t call myself tough as nails, the thought I am not cut for the station fit would be wrong I totally indulge in station life and what it has to offer. I embrace it from the bottom of my heart at the end of the day I’m still a station person and proud of it, I’m just a girly girl one with my own sense of style.
The only thing that gives it away that I might be a farmer or pastoralist is my hands – they are working station hands not feminine at all and I have scars on my face from eating rocks after being thrown by a horse 12 years ago. I have scars on my arms and legs from wire cuts, blue wattle and mulga when crashing through it on my bike stalking some Noreena cattle, this is all part and parcel of station life.
Quite often when going to town, races and social events the ladies and gentlemen of the pastoral industry will scrub up and don fine fine clothes, the blokes can look very dapper – what’s that saying girls love country blokes, well this must be why. They look all manly and well dressed to boot and as for the ladies they come out like diamonds in the rubble, they can be absolutely stylish and well dressed as the socialites of Australia and the UK, trust me they can give those socialites a run for their money in the style stakes.
Video: Fashions on the field, so embarrassing
As my mother has always told me as told to her by many a respectable lady “A woman may work on a station doing what the blokes do but should always act and demonstrate like a lady and not lose their femininity” so everybody keep an eye at for those fashionista bovineista’s.
I have attached below a little mini blog by my dear friend Jenny Jones, this was written by Jenn on a whim and a feeling, she wrote it straight away when I had told her about something that had upset my mum and how her first blog had cheered her up. This is a great representation of women and their place on a station, please don’t think this is all women only for stations as that’s not the case as Jenn and I both know man and woman are equal in life.
Behind every strong woman is passion – by Jenny Jones
They say behind every strong man is a strong woman. From an outside perspective of this tough and macho industry I too did think that I would be met by men who spent their days out on the land, working the cattle, and doing the hard whilst the women would stay at home, bake pies, clean up after the guys, and look after the children. How wrong I was!
I met more strong and compassionately motivated women in the Pilbara than I think I have ever met in my life or will ever meet again. I’m truly blessed to walk in the footsteps of women that don’t even know their own brilliance.
I’m reminded of another famous quote ‘a women’s work is never done’ and I don’t think a more fitting quote there is. We all know this quote in the context of housekeeping, child care, and family life yet there is much more meaning behind these simple words in relation to station women. The women I met and came to know have many different roles within their jobs, home maker, chef, wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, friend, doctor, vet, campaigner, head of sales and marketing, recruitment manager, counsellor, head of entertainment, chief stylist, dress makers, fixers and repairs, mechanics, teacher, plumber, welder, pilot, head stockman to name a few and they never once complained about having to carry out so many roles in one day. In fact it was natural to them and I don’t think they would have it any other way.
The women generally woke before the men so they could do any jobs they wanted to do before the day ahead started. Then with full gusto helped to cook breakfast and prepare lunch, got everyone ready and informed them of the days jobs, worked a full day just like the guys then on returning home whilst the team sat back kicked off their boots and had the first beer of the day the women were still busy double checking on cattle that they are worried about, preparing for the next day, helping with dinner, updating their social media channels, and occasionally having some ‘me’ time.
You may wonder why these strong women are like this and I can only put it down to one thing – Passion. Passion for their animals, land, country and industry, a passion for their families, to carry on the work of their mothers who taught them what to do, a passion for life, and a passion for love. Without their passion I honestly don’t know what would get them up at 4am to run a station during a drought, during the live export ban, tending to their animals, and running a 24 hour business because one thing I know for sure it’s not for the money.
The support network these women have to rely on is simple, it’s their friends, family, and community. Although communities and friends can be located hundreds of kilometres away from each other they are there for each other regardless, a simple phone call to catch up and check-in can mean the world after a hard day, sharing ideas via the internet can support and motivate someone who would normally not say anything and a chance to meet at the local races or ball gives a break from the norm and a chance to forget about real life if only for a few hours. The men in their lives are equally as strong and with the simple touch of a hand or wink of an eye the women are able to carry on and find that inner strength for another hard day ahead of them.
So to the women of the Pilbara and stations across Australia I salute you and doff my now dusty akubra, may you all sit down tonight and enjoy the sunset, have a beer, and be rest assured that you have a world of women behind you supporting you and thanking you for your hard word.
On a personal note you have taught me more than you will ever know about believing in something and no matter what you face stay strong and true and anything can be overcome.
Thank you Ladies of the Pilbara xxx
Wow, I have just read this again after copying and pasting and shed a wee tear, it sounds like Jenn is making station women out to be angels, maybe they are, remember why Jenn wrote this, she is writing with her heart and what she saw.
Jenn worked for us as a station cook from Wheaton Aston Stafford in the UK in 2011 when the live export ban was put on, she had no idea of station life until she rocked up at Noreena, but I know now in my heart and so does Jenn that Noreena has played a special place in her heart for eternity. After mustering Jenn went on holidays to Thailand came back to Australia and asked if she could spend Christmas with us. YES to that she may have been our cook but my family had developed a bond with Jenn, so she flew in on a warm day – haha get that heat into you Jenn, she did mill runs with me nearly every day in the stinking hot heat. I remember one nasty hot day Jenn and I were at Kallona bore filling buckets to pour water over a mob of hot tonguing calves under a tree near the trough and then we wet the ground down for them.
A bit later along you will be reading a mob of blogs by the awesome Jenny Jones hehehe I have already taken a sneak peek and they are good reading material.
Over and out chikees and fellas.