Just “Plain” cooking

Host: Anna Plains Station
Written by the Cook, Anna Plains Station.

`“Have you always been a cook?”

That is the question that inevitably leads me to tell the story of how my husband, Scotty, and I came to be at Anna Plains Station. Quite simply the answer is no. So how did we end up here?

In mid-2015, with our wedding around the corner, I turned around one day and said “Why don’t we pack up and travel Australia?”. Scotty’s cousins had done it, so why couldn’t we? As fate had it a couple of friends were looking to move back home after doing a season in the Northern Territory so we organised to rent our house to them. It sounded all very romantic but the reality was after the wedding, upgrades to the 4WD and building a camper trailer, it became pretty obvious we needed to work our way around the country.

2-1-copyScotty and I as we made our way to Anna.

Come September we saw an ad for a Station Mechanic and a Cook that could suit a couple, a few calls later and there was a job offer to be there in three weeks. So the rush was on to actually pack up our lives and make the 4500km trek from Mackay, Queensland to Anna Plains Station, near Broome Western Australia, for our ‘gap year’ in the middle of nowhere on a cattle station.

On average I cook for a crew of 14 people; the owner and managers plus 11 staff. We regularly have work visitors and plenty of social visits from family and friends, so it is not unusual to be cooking for upwards of 20 people. We also have a short stay park with six caravan sites, so during the few months over the winter tourist season it’s not uncommon for the ladies to pop over and say hi and offer a helping hand or just stop for a cuppa.

But almost 12 months on, we are close to the end of our time and have had time to reflect on the simpler things in life and what we want to do next. Scotty has decided a career change is definitely on the cards. We are planning to move to Perth for him to study while I return to my passion working in Human Resources. To add to the busy life of a station cook I’ve also been completing further studies, which has been both challenging and hugely rewarding.

2-2-copyRelaxing with our two dogs on the 80 Mile Beach.

Station life is hard work but I have enjoyed it, the kitchen is the heart of the station and I love the social aspect of it. On mustering days, it can become a lonely place when everyone heads off after breakfast and not a sole is home until late in the afternoon; though I must say there is generally always the station owner who pops over each morning to peel potatoes or do another ‘easy’ job; not such an easy feat for a blind man in his late 80’s, but he likes to keep busy and there is always interesting conversation to be had if you find the right topic. One thing I can’t say that I’ll miss is getting up at 4.30am to have lunch packed and breakfast ready for the crew by 5.30am, nor not knocking off till around 7.30pm after dinner, though it might take a little getting used to not being able to duck off for a midday nap during my break!

My take home message is if you’d like to try station work but you’ve never done anything like it before, or you worry you couldn’t because of ‘commitments’ – if you want to do it you’ll make it work! It just takes dedication and a positive attitude and who knows – you might just have the best experience of your life, you’ll learn a lot and make some great friends!

2-3-copyAlways a beautiful sunset over the 80 Mile Beach.