From Pretoria to the Pilbara

Host: Koordarrie Station
Written by Nanthus van der Lely – Station Hand, Koordarrie Station.

My name is Nanthus van der Lely I was born on 16th of April 1997 in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa.

My early childhood was complicated due to the fact that my parents were divorced, but as the youngest of three children I never felt a lack of love from both my parents. Growing up with separated parents became normal part of my life; I stayed with my mother for primary school and would visit my father each holiday. When the time came for me to go to high school I went to live with my father due to the fact that he lived close to the city and near a broad variety of excellent high schools.

Growing up in small town played a big role in forming who I was, and who I would became during high school. Everybody in the community knew each other well and there was never a lack of kind and goodhearted people. The small town was situated close to all the major farming communities and I soon started showing interest in the agricultural industry. The man my mother married had a farm close to the town we lived and we would visit there regularly – he was not a farmer for his primary profession, but understood the business well and had his own breeding herd of grey Brahman cattle. This is where I would say my interests in the farming and agricultural industry developed.

Me visiting and doing some riding in the small town I grew up in.

When the time came for me to go and live with my father I was ready for a lifestyle change knowing that my father lives in a farming community and had two farms of his own. I had not lived with my father long when he noticed that I had a passion for the agricultural industry. I had come home from school one day when my father had called me to show me something on the farm – they had purchased a small breeding herd of goats for the family to breed with and take care of. I was still young, only fourteen at the time, and had never thought that farming was so complicated!

My best friend since childhood played a big role when it came to expanding my interests in the agricultural industry. They lived close by and, to my excitement, next to a well-known family business that are in the feedlot industry. My friend and I started working at the feedlot and our families became friends with the family that own the feedlot, in the years that followed we would work at the feedlot on weekends and in holidays, eager to learn about the industry. After a few years working there I had great knowledge about the industry and especially about cattle. I had by this time had a good understanding about cattle and the different types of farming with cattle; I had purchased two head of cattle and soon started forming my own small business – I would purchase weaned calves, and I would feed them until they were heavy enough for the feedlot. I started buying and selling cattle and in only a few months I had ten head of cattle at a time, feeding them and re-selling them to the feedlot and other neighbouring farmers, although this not a lot of cattle for some, to me it was. I was the only person in our whole high school that was farming on my own and not dependant on my parents for any help regarding the farming business or the financial side to the business. I was a young and independent farmer enjoying the agricultural industry.

Me with the first few of my own cattle.

My motivation to come to Australia was as most of my friends and family say, confusing and complicated – a mixture between love, a love of agriculture, and the possibility of gaining very good agricultural experience were my main motivations. Although I was dreaming about a bright future in the agricultural industry, my head was still spinning around the fact that my girlfriend, Esmarie, moved to Australia a couple of years ago and that we have not stopped talking or stopped being in love. I was finished with school and it was time that I started planning my future.

I was working on neighbouring farms and helping my dad in the construction industry when I heard about an opportunity to come to Australia. It was and agricultural exchange program that would allow me to work in Australia on a cattle station. The opportunity given to me by Koordarrie Station in Western Australia was the beginning of my bright future.

I had already worked out the following future plan before I arrived in Australia, knowing that I will only have a visa valid for 12 months, and my plan was as follow:

  • Get my placement in Australia.
  • While working in Australia look for a work visa sponsor as close to Melbourne as possible for when my current visa runs out.
  • When working for my 2nd year, hopefully close to Melbourne, I will start doing courses in the agricultural industry until I have a formal qualification of agriculture.
  • Work and live in Australia until I can apply for my permanent residency.

This is and was my short plan of action, although short there is more to that plan than meets the eye, because when I speak of my future plan the whole purpose of my future plan is so that I can have a future alongside Esmarie, I want a bright future so that we could have a bright future and where there is a will, there is a way.

I would say the main goal driving me all the time is to have my own piece of land in Australia, running a few hundred head of cattle, and still having a full time job in the more formal part of the agricultural industry such as an agricultural consultant.

So here I am in Australia. It has almost been six months since I came to Australia and it has certainly been a life changer. From the moment I arrived up until now is an experience that I will never forget.

I have been working on Koordarrie Station since 22nd August 2016 and what an experience!

Enjoying a beer with some of the crew after a hard day’s work at Koordarrie.

Being from a farming community in South Africa hard work was nothing new, until I arrived on Koordarrie. Hard work is probably the best way to explain it, but it is hard work that’s well rewarded; becoming part of the De Pledge family is something I will never forget.

A lovely dinner with the De Pledge family.

We work hard during the day, and have our rough days. But, after a hard day’s work, being able to see what you have accomplished is probably the best reward. It has not just been all work and no fun . . . being able to be part of social events such as rodeos, and the odd weekend off to Exmouth or Onslow is much appreciated, but the best reward I have received was the opportunity to go and visit Esmarie in Melbourne from mid-December to mid-January. We had not seen each other for three years before I arrived in Australia, I spent a week with her before coming to Koordarrie and then visiting her for almost a month, all the time spent with her makes all the hard work worth the wile.

Unforgettable time spent with Esmarie.

My future is not planned out to perfection but I believe that through hard work and dedication I will reach my goals. I will end with adding that none of this is, or was, possible without the support of my family, Esmarie, and the De Pledge family from Koordarrie Station.