Gap Year in the Pilbara

Host: De Grey Station
Written by Steph Rose, 1st year Stationhand – De Grey Station

Ever since I graduated from Harvey Agricultural College, I’d wanted to head north and have a go at working on a station. Little did I know that my 2019 New Years Resolution to do this, would come to life within a month.

I arrived at De Grey Station on Sunday 27thJanuary, it was straight after Australia Day and boy was it dry and stinking hot. A huge difference to home in Dardanup, southwest WA where the grass is green and the sea breeze blows. It took me a good couple of weeks to adjust to the heat and the humidity was just stifling, but I survived. Funny though how now, I feel the cold and have started wearing jumpers as soon as its below 20-25 degrees.

I had many of reasons for coming to the station. We’ve all seen and pretty sure we all adored McLeod’s Daughters and sure it seemed like anyone could give farming a go, but station life is certainly no TV show. The 2 main reasons why I came north are:

  1. Save Money

We all have to work and earn money, but saving it can be hard, especially when I’m trying to save to then afford to be a student. Living and working on a station is one of the best ways to save. Realistically you only spend money when you go to town and when you only go to town maybe on a weekend or even once a month the coins start to add up. If only online shopping could be less accessible then I’d really save – ha!

  1. Prove myself, to myself

Between the long days, hard yakka, isolation and heat, I’ve dove head first into the unknown. I want to learn, experience, engage and be confident in undertaken any challenge thrown my way. Station life/work will build my character up, my resilience stronger and my self confidence to new heights.

The work itself can be hard, especially if you haven’t done any agricultural work before. Fencing is a must do job, it can be boring and tedious but it’s got to be done. Heading out on a bore run is fun, generally this is the only time you’ll actually get time to yourself, so enjoy it. Then there’s all sorts of random jobs around the homestead like gardening or workshop repairs, again as much as you may dislike it it’s all part of the parcel. The real fun stuff is what you came here for, mustering and working cattle in the yards. That’s the true icing on the cake. The job is one of fulfillment, to put the hard work in and see results is very rewarding.

The joy of working on a station is obviously the experience but also the people we meet. At the end of the day we are working and living together. There’ll be plenty of ups and downs, laughter and arguments, but we are all a part of the team. They become your neighbours, co-workers, temporary family and confidantes, we live and breath together and we sure do have some fun!

I’ll leave with more skills, confidence, knowledge, friends and memories than what I came with and be blessed for the experience I’ve had. So, if you’re on the fence about doing a “gap year” or time up north on a cattle station, don’t wait any longer – it’s an experience you’ll never regret or forget!