Host: Yarrie Station
Written by Stevie Murray – Station Hand/Horse Trainer, Yarrie Station.
We are grateful to have Stevie join our team from the States this year. Even though you will hear that her experience with cattle is new, she has an amazing background with horses including completing the Mongolian Derby in 2014. She is a very determined, deep thinking, hard worker, a caring team player, and is a very modest and talented horse trainer and rider.
400 kilos of bush cow eyes me down. I swallow, a grating, dust-laden breath. My hands shake, my eyes dilate with adrenaline. I step forward with a confidence I do not feel and will the mob of cattle to move out in front of me and into the race. Bush cow turns, glassy eyed, she is not going to go quietly. I hesitate, a life of city-living betraying me in the moment, and bush cow sees the ruse. She bursts forth, I am but a speed bump to her if I do not make the safety of the rails in time . . .
It’s several days before we muster and no one is around to get the horses in. Being from a country that prefers automatics and the right side of the road (and subsequently the car) I have never mastered, shall we say, certain nuances of clutch usage. I am mostly banned from practicing my clutch-releasing skills with the station vehicles in an effort to keep Wizard, our mechanic’s hair from going grey (and gear and transmission boxes in full working order). My only option left, is one of Yarrie Station’s many two wheelers.
To most people, a dirt bike is a welcome sight; a bit of fun, but it fills my soul with dread. Mechanically disinclined is a kind way to describe me. I pace nervously eyeing down the ripped seat and the worn tires. I wish I could lunge the bike first, make sure it will not buck beneath me when I mount, but it doesn’t work like that . . . I resolutely shove on a helmet, go through all the necessary safety checks, start it up, and climb on. I trundle around after several stalls into first caused by timid use of gas, and make the harrowing trip up the gravel drive to the spinifex laden horse pasture. My confidence builds as I successfully navigate the varied terrain and soon I find myself rocking along in third. This might actually be fun I think as the horses gallop in towards the round yard around me. Distracted by my four legged charges I narrowly miss a large rock and I begin to swerve badly, balance lost, I can feel the bike going sideways . . .
I’m happily mounted on a horse. This is where I belong. I’m carefully keeping the riders to my left and right in intermittent view. The sun is shining and there is a light breeze, it is a beautiful day to muster! We trot along with the pleasant (and reassuring) drone of the chopper behind us. Cattle begin lowing ahead of us and we slow up as we receive instructions from above. Suddenly a mickey bull breaks from the herd ahead and I am desperately trying to get in a position that doesn’t speed his efforts but that will stop him or at least hold him until I can hail Annabelle in her trusty R22. We circle round and suddenly I’m praying for stealth not speed. The bull holds us in his sights, and he’s no longer interested in the flight response, dimly I hear someone screaming into my radio to run . . .
They say living on the edge makes you feel alive. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. They say glory isn’t found in the rise, but in the ability we have to rise again after each fall. They say you never learn if you never fail. Yarrie makes me feel alive. Many days I feel weak here, but at the end of each day I feel myself becoming stronger. I fall a lot here (sometimes just trying to find a dunny in the dark at stock camp . . .) but I’m finding it easier to get back up.
I also fail as often as I succeed, but I’ve never learned so much. I made it to the rails and out of the bush cows way thanks to hours of patient lessons from most of the team I work with. I righted my bike at the last second thanks to the careful tutoring of Alic and the daily moral support of the rest of the station crew that I received in my long drawn out training process. My horse and I scooted out of the way of that mickey bull just in time thanks to the knowledgeable and protective watch of Ann, who is a true Pilbara legend and who has guided me through my outback orientation process. So while Yarrie provides the perfect set in which I can live out my desired adventures and dramas, I have found it is truly the cast and crew who have made it possible for me to make it safely and successfully to the end of this season, so that this show can go on.
Station Hand and Horse Trainer