From one extreme to another . . .

Host: Liveringa Station
Written by Karen O’Brien – Manager, Liveringa Station.

Zarrah, one of our new staff members this year, writes about her move from NZ where she worked as a stock agent, to become a ‘ringer’ in the unforgiving north of Australia. Similarly, Jake, who is back at Liveringa for a second year, gives us his take on living ‘extreme’!

4.1Zarrah, front left, pictured here with Lisa, Katy and Emma at the “Re-bar” – Liveringa’s Rec Club.

What started as a general browse at jobs around NZ and Australia, ended up being one of the greatest things I have done with my life. After finding a job in the “Kimberley Region” of Western Australia, I then had to figure out where the hell that was. Not such an outstanding point was the fact it was near (in Aussie terms) to Wolfe Creek – a movie I had recently watched. But with a few ups and downs I finished my job as an Agent and ended up on a family owned station near Fitzroy Crossing.

Everyone in NZ that had been to Australia or was from there warned me about all the things that could possibly go wrong or also possibly try to kill me. Let’s just say I was one wary Kiwi also mindful of the fact that I had been looking up the current temperatures of Fitzroy Crossing (everyday) and wondering how someone could survive in that sort of heat (40 degrees) let alone work in it. I think Canterbury’s “high” for summer was about 30 degrees and we all thought we would melt. But what can I say? If you’re prepared for the worst it can only get better!

April 1st 2013 I arrived in Fit’a’roy and loved the whole experience. So much so, that after seven months and a trip around the northern hemisphere I wanted to come back.

January 2014 I was working briefly in Scotland. It was winter and the temperature made a general “high” of about four degrees on a good day. I found myself thinking constantly about the life I had in Oz and made the call to head back. After hearing a lot of great things about Liveringa, I rang Jed and asked if there were any positions available. He took the mickey out of my accent a little and then said yes, we are looking, send me through your CV. A couple of months later I arrived in Broome to start work.

Working on a cattle station was always something I had wanted to do and although I was prepared for all the things that may try to eat/sting/bite/kill me, I was not fully aware of the scale of farming that is the outback. When you talk about your farm back home in New Zealand and say “oh yeah, we have about 2,000 acres”, Aussie co-workers laugh then ask you if you shake a bucket and call out your pet cows names to shift them from paddock to paddock.

4.2Cattle at the farm in NZ.

The size and scale of these Australian stations blew me away. It really is the extreme opposite of what I was used to. I told my friends and family that we mustered a 10,000 hectare paddock and they can’t even fathom it. Liveringa is a step up again. Recently we had to muster 5,017 cattle into the yards. I don’t think I have ever been witness to that many cattle in one location and it is one thing I will definitely remember for the rest of my life.

4.3First muster of the year – and it’s a big one. Cattle are being mustered into the Inkata yards. Inkata is the name of the residential and office areas of Liveringa Station.

4.4 Bringing up the tailBringing up the tail.

4.5Zarrah at the end of the muster where she pursued a renegade heifer into the sorghum growing under one of our centre pivots.

The coming season will no doubt be full of highs and lows, amazing adventures and quite likely some moments where I will be thinking I should have reconsidered my choice to become a member of the stock camp. But that’s all part of it and I am very lucky for the chance to get out here and get amongst it!

The extreme ringer . . .

I’m Jake; this is my second year at Liveringa. I’ve worked a few different jobs involving cattle and horses but this is where I enjoy it by far the most.

4.6 Jake.

The way I see it, there are many factors that separate and join together on Liveringa. The ones I can relate to are man, beast, and land. I guess all these things can be harsh and unforgiving but at the same time come together and work to strengths to get the job done.

4.7Jake working the sticks on a race draft set up.

Cattle are the one animal that never cease to amaze me. All shapes and sizes, all colours and shades and, of course, all personalities. You can have one mob as quiet as lambs and the next all hot and fiery. I guess that’s where horses come into it. We shed blood, sweat, and tears together doing the job we love with a lot of funny times along the way . . . some not so funny at the time . . .

Last week, having had a decent fall off my horse, I woke up in the dirt to find out the mob I was working were quite some way away and then realising the task of finding my mount, who had been overwhelmed to find the greenest grass in the paddock some way off.

4.8 Jake riding a young horse . . . just . . .

The land we work and live on can be the most beautiful thing to look at one moment and the next, trying to change a flat tyre in the middle of a million acre property in 45 degree heat in deep sand or rocky ground . . . it’s a test for even the best on a Monday morning. Or trying to get home, coming on dark, and getting bogged to the diffs is also another thing that pushes patience to its limits.

It’s not all sunsets and green pasture, it’s actually a lot of extremes but it has to be well and truly worth these extremes because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tomorrow we focus on the challenges of living in what could be considered an ‘extreme’ environment . . .