Gold Coast -> Outback -> Perth -> Dongara -> Broome

Host: DAFWA Aboriginal Business Development Project
Written by Daisy Goodwin – Development Officer, DAFWA.

When you live on the Gold Coast, you don’t have to go far for anything. Shops? 15 minutes. Beach? 15 minutes. Work? 15 minutes. New job in Perth? 46 hours.

At the beginning of this year, I was offered a job working as a development officer for the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food. I had just finished a degree in Environmental Science on the Gold Coast and was ready for a change. My dream of working in agriculture was about to become a reality. Thus began the journey across the Nullabor to Perth.

Things I thought before driving across Australia:

  1. I like the heat
  2. The car will handle it
  3. I am not a girly girl
  4. I don’t mind insects

Some things I know now:

  1. I like the heat

I do not like the heat anymore. We accidentally left home in the middle of January, the week of a heat wave, and travelled through towns that were 47 degrees and still 32 degrees at 8pm . . .

  1. The car will handle it

Okay I guess I should have realised that my boyfriend’s 1991 campervan probably won’t be able to handle a trip across Australia. Yes the aircon broke so the windows went down, letting in air that was hotter than the air in the car.

  1. I am not a girly girl

I never knew that I could get that sweaty. I literally didn’t think it was possible. Sooky old me enforced that we find stops with showers or somewhere to swim, luckily for us we found a few beautiful swimming spots along the way.

A beautiful creek we found in Hay, Central NSW.

Rockpools in Grafton, NSW.

  1. I don’t mind insects

So there are these tiny little flies that are not scared of you and sit on your face in swarms of one million but that’s okay because we spent $20 on extra strength Bushman’s. The instructions say you can put it on your face so we spray it on, good idea right?!?! Not a good idea. Flies – 1, Daisy – 0. Oh well, I can deal with flies. At least there are no cane toads or anything that can kill you in WA! Wrong.

After two weeks we arrived in Perth and had not killed each other but had listened to Nick’s iPod twice over and almost lost our voices singing in the car. During our first week in our new place, I found a little spider in my bedroom and after 10 minutes of Googling, confirmed that it was a redback spider and that yes, there are things in WA that can, in fact kill you. Oh and what’s this Ross River fever thing? Complaints aside, our trip over was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Don’t know if I would do it again, but hey, that’s what planes are for.

Half way there! We’re gonna make it!

One morning we woke up with 40 cows around the van. This is our new friend ‘Skywalker’.

 Camping on the edge of the a cliff on the Great Australia Bight.

After a few weeks of relaxation and watching the sun set over the ocean (I still can’t get used to it), I started my new job. Within my first week it was clear to me that I was going to see a lot more of WA with this job and we were on our way to Dandaragan to pick up Kevin and Lexi from the Beemurra Aboriginal Corporation. We were on an overnight trip to properties in Badgingarra and Dongara to learn about perennials, setting up cell paddocks, and backgrounding.

During a conversation with my supervisor Mark, I realised that things were a bit different over here. I was bragging about my experience working with cattle farms when Mark said asked how many head I was used to dealing with? ‘100-300’ roughly I said. ‘300 thousand?’ ‘No, 300.’  So I take it properties are just a tad bigger over here.

Our first stop was Badgingarra where we saw the most B-E-A-utiful perennials I’ve ever seen. You could literally see the line between this property and the next because one side was green. After, we drove through a road that was closed (apparently it’s okay to disregard those signs sometimes) and went to Dongara to learn about backgrounding. This property had around seven cells in a sort of circle meeting where there was a trough in the middle. The cattle could then be easily rotated between cells. Kevin and Lexi have taken this idea and adopted it at their place. It was hot that day. Flies – 2, Daisy – 0.

Just a bit of water? Nah. This road’s not closed.

The trough centre of the cell paddocks.

Following this, we headed to our accommodation in Dongara. It was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t believe that it’s my job to stay here!

The beach across from our accommodation in Dongara.

Since the trip, I have fallen head over heels in love with WA. I am so excited for the next year. Oh and did I mention I’m moving to Broome for work?

Three words: Cane toads. Crocodiles.