Life at Yougawalla – a marathon effort

Host: Yougawalla Pastoral Co.
Written by Jordon Sullivan ­– Stationhand, Yougawalla Pastoral Co.

Ever since I was a young boy my dream was to work on a cattle station, from visiting both sets of my grandparents in the holidays to living and working on a small farm my parents had purchased near Tenterfield. My great uncle was a keen bushman who taught me a great deal about survival in the bush and how to work with it rather than against it. All this encouraged me to follow my passion of living and working on a farm.

Fencing, Bulka Station.

Whilst still at school I started my carpentry apprenticeship, finishing this at the age of 20. It was then that I was able to chase my dream and took a position with Yougawalla Pastoral Company in the Kimberley, WA.

When I first arrived at Bulka Station, owned by Yougawalla Pastoral Company, I met the manager Gazza, his wife Yulia, and their son Seamus. I have spent the majority of my last two years on Bulka Station mustering, fencing, building yards, driving heavy machinery, and doing bore runs.

Laying Lines of poly pipe for new water development.

One of my favourite times of year would be mustering time. Normally around end of April until October depending on the season. I know getting up at 4.30 every morning and most of the time getting back to the house at 6pm at night is hard. Most of you will probably think I’m crazy, but I love it. I am really keen for stock work.

Margaret River Yards – In the pound draft.

I have learned a lot of valuable skills working for Yougawalla Pastoral Company like; pulling a bore and fixing it; straining a fence with just a pair of pliers; how to operate a grader, or; how to educate weaners in a laneway on horses. One of the most valuable skills I have learnt is to have the ability to fix something using minimal materials or tools. It is not possible to drop in to the local hardware store to grab the right tool or screw or whatever it might be to fit it. Unless that is, you are up for a four hour round trip to Fitzroy Crossing or Halls Creek, or two day round trip to Broome. So, you find yourself walking around the scrap metal piles at the station dump looking for a part that might get you by. Or Cobb and Co it together, use zip ties, or duct tape until you can order the right equipment from town.

Enjoying some well-earned time out with the crew.

Another part of station life I love would be the friendly family orientated way that staff are treated. Being able to sit down at the dinner table with all your work mates at the end of a massive 12 hour day in the yards helps everyone bond like being part of one big family. On days off, I am keen to head down to a swimming hole with the crew with a few beers. Fitzroy Crossing rodeo and Halls Creek rodeo are some of the best weekends of the year where hundreds of local station ringers come together to party, dance and to see what cowboys can ride time on a wild Kimberly shorthorn bull or a mean station horse. Most of Yougawalla’s station hands give at least one of the events a try.

Rodeo time! Having a go.

This love of stock work and the bush has grown a lot over the last few years working for YPC. In the wet season I was also fortunate enough to work at Tierawoomba Station for Hughes Pastoral. Where in a short three months I learnt many valuable new skills in horsemanship, which have also come in handy for what was to come.

My passion for farming and the bush has led me to purchase a small 1000 acre block in the Northern NSW town of Tenterfield. It was a block with a great deal of timber regrowth and no internal fencing or yards. I have recently built a set of stock yards on the property and have cleaned up some of the land, slowly increasing the carrying capacity of the property. Purchasing also a small mob of Brangus and Droughtmaster heifers in calf to a Brangus bull. I’m hoping to build my herd up to around the 80 mark.

Clearing my block.

I have plans to build internal fences and rotational graze the country to try to get the best carrying capacity. I realise this is not a huge place and I have a long way to go yet. But, it is a start. As a farmer once told me, farming is a marathon not a sprint.

New Yards.