Host: Liveringa Station
Written by Karen O’Brien – Livestock Manager, Liveringa Station.
Cattle come out of “Paradise” paddock en route to “Big Farm” yard . . . the chopper brings up those who really don’t want to leave Paradise . . . despite the fact that, as far as paddocks go, this one is about as far from paradisiacal as you can get! We remain constantly in awe of the manoeuvres of the helicopter pilots . . .
A “Ringer” is what we call a Station Hand here in the North. When looking for staff, Jed spends weeks reading through resumes and calling referees. The recruitment process is difficult because we get a lot of good young people applying for jobs. Essentially, we try to find those who can ride a horse, have good references, and preferably some livestock experience. We also prefer those with a clear and evident commitment to the industry.
This year, Liveringa employed nine Ringers with varying degrees of experience and they have proven to be a good team. Three returned from last year and a couple have been here as long as we have. Watching the new staff grow in confidence and ability is a rewarding aspect of Jed’s job.
Over the next couple of days, we’d like to introduce you to some of our ringers. Today I am going to hand over to: Chris, Georgie, Harry, Steph, and Mariah (who came back for just a few weeks during her Uni break for work experience after doing the year with us in 2012)
Chris Morrow, Head Stockman
This is my second year here at Liveringa Station. In April this year I was fortunate to be made Head Stockman. This has been a rewarding role though there have certainly been some testing times. I am still pulling my hair out . . . but you never stop learning.
Prior to my time here, I lived in the Riverina. I carted livestock all over Australia for about 10 years. I decided on a career change and worked for Romani Pastoral Company at Cootamundra for two years as a Livestock Overseer – but was always keen to have the Northern Australian cattle experience. I had a couple of mates who had previously worked at Liveringa who recommended it as a good place to go . . . so here I am, two years later. Liveringa Station is a great place to work and I hope to be here for years to come.
Growing up in Broome I was surrounded by Pindan, Ocean and Horses. Weekends and Holidays were often spent camping along the coast with friends and family, lounging around in the sun, and competing against each other to see who could catch the biggest crab or fish, and being absolute ferals rolling around in the Pindan, often coming back home covered in bruises after having ‘Bundii’ throwing fights.
Some Holidays were spent in Perth visiting family, and it was during a visit to my Uncle’s Angus property that sparked an interest in cattle. I always loved it when the Rodeo came to town, and always imagined myself being a champion Bronc and Bull rider, but until then I’d never actually thought about learning more about cattle.
I did the majority of my schooling in Broome, and once I hit year 10 I decided that I wanted to pursue my interest in cattle and farming. I had applied to enrol in several Agricultural High Schools in and around Perth, and I made the decision to attend Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon (CACB), North of Perth, for year 11 and 12.
However, when I enrolled at CACB, I made the ‘sort of mistake’ of focusing more on equine studies than cattle. I still had a few class subjects that focused on cattle and sheep production, and through my animal production science classes I was able to handle cattle a bit every now and then (only ‘doey’ stud cows and herd bulls, though).
Even though I was almost constantly homesick, completing my high school studies at CACB was the best thing I could have done. The class subjects gave me more of an insight into the cattle industry, and gave me a kick-start to get more motivated to look for work on cattle stations in the Kimberley, which was my plan once I left school (plus I was a huge ‘McLeod’s Daughters’ fan!)
However, plans change, and shortly after graduating in 2011 I was offered a job at a small riding school in Perth. At the beginning I loved it, but unfortunately, towards the end of the year things just weren’t going so great. I finally decided that lifestyle just wasn’t for me, and began looking into cattle stations back in the Kimberley.
I first heard of Liveringa after learning that a mate was working on the station, and after doing a bit of ‘google-ing’, thought to myself “This place looks perfect . . .”
Not long after sending in my resume, I caught a lift with my partner in crime/Best mate/Uncle Ralph, who had applied to be Liveringa’s Truck Driver, and was headed home. However, once I got back to Broome, I anxiously waited for several months to hear back from Jed. After a handful of calls and a couple of trips to the station during the wet season, as Karen puts it “Jed decided he really ought to reward your determination and enthusiasm with a job!” (I secretly think it was just so I would stop annoying him, haha!) Ralph and Liveringa’s road train “Greener Pastures”.
Life at Liveringa is everything I hoped it would be . . . although I definitely got a huge shock the first time I handled Liveringa cattle. Brahmans have just a bit more energy than your average Angus, Hereford and Gelby stud cows!
During my first week at Inkarta yards it was rare for me to actually get IN the yard with the cattle, and all a big fat cow would have to do was look at me and I was on that top rail in less time than takes you to sneeze!
But, as the weeks went on, my confidence with cattle steadily grew, although the fear was still there (and still is at times) I slowly got braver and braver, and with Jed’s watchful eye and words of wisdom, along with the constant support of the stock crew and participating in the Low-Stress Handling Stock School, my new confidence means that I am no longer afraid of getting right up near the cattle and I’ve even jumped in a few times to help scruff a weaner that got away, whereas before I would stand back and have to try and convince myself to help. At times though, confidence can lead to being cocky, and I’ve had quite a few close calls that have given me a good wake up!
Being a naturally shy and quiet person, bonding with the Liveringa team was hard at first, and most days off I spent fishing in Snake Creek with Ralph or in my room reading. But after spending several months out at stock camp, I feel as if I have truly made some fantastic mates! My new-found confidence in myself is amazing! I’ve gone from quiet and shy, to not being afraid to ‘let my hair down’ and have a bit of fun.
Stock camp has definitely been one of the biggest highlights of the year. You spend all day working your guts out in the dusty yards, shower under the stars, then sit around the camp fire having a yarn whilst enjoying some of our camp cook’s amazing meals. Eventually the day’s events catch up with you, so you crawl into your swag absolutely exhausted, falling asleep looking up at the millions and millions of stars and listening to the cattle mooing in the nearby yards, and then just when you think you could do with another hour’s worth of sleep, you get woken up before sunrise by someone starting up the generator, to do it all again!
Of course living so confined can be trying at times, and few disagreements spring up here and there, but all it takes to bring back the peace is something small, such me as having one of my common ‘clumsy moments’ like landing flat on my bum while climbing over a fence, or the boys singing at the tops of their lungs over the two-way radios whilst walking out cattle.
Some of my best memories so far this year are:
Camping out on Moulomen Hill.
The day I pretty much loaded the truck at Pyramid Yards on my own when Ralph showed up early.
The Jim Lindsay Low-Stress Stock Handling School
Fitzroy, Derby, and Broome Rodeos
Swimming in Hardman Dam with the horses
Beating one of the boys in a Bareback race (also my first contribution to the ‘Spit-Tin’!)
Every day brings a new challenge, a new obstacle, a new adventure. My time this year at Liveringa has been a journey I will never forget, and if I haven’t annoyed Jed too much this year, I may just be returning next year to keep on ‘Living the dream’ . . .
Liveringa station is a very different setting to where I grew up; I was born in Scotland (where “remote” means half an hour from the nearest town) and I lived there until I was 15.
I then moved to Brisbane with my family where I finished high school. Growing up I was always into horses and working with animals, so I went to university and studied animal science. Safe to say I loved it and couldn’t wait to get up north and experience working on a cattle station.
I looked into working on a few places but when Jed called in response to an email I sent him and convinced me to come to Liveringa Station, I couldn’t resist and I definitely made the right decision. I was absolutely terrified when I stepped off the plane in Broome airport but everyone at Liveringa could not have made me feel more at home.
Coming from a background where I had next to no cattle experience, I was not exactly at home in the yards . . . it is a very daunting experience when a cow comes from nowhere and runs you up the rail! Although over the year I have learnt so much from Jed, Dave, and Brent . . .
Not only has the work been amazing but I have met so many wonderful people from all around the country and I know that many of them will be friends for life. Emma, Jo, Stephanie and Lucy – all great mates, right from the start . . .
HARRY (HAZARD) GRANT
I started working at Liveringa Station for my first year in a stock camp this year. I am off a large sheep, cattle and cropping property in the Snowy Mountains, in a town called Tumbarumba. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it?
I went to an Ag Boarding School (Yanco Ag High School) where I made a lot of good friends, played a bit of footy (was never much good) and went swimming in the Murrumbidgee.
I left school at the end of Year 11 and began working at home on the family farm. I was pretty green at this stage (much to the frustration of anyone who gave me a job to do) but I was always willing to learn and cop a yelling at. I even picked up a thing or two.
Jed (a long-time family friend) offered me a job at Liveringa when we caught up in January at the Tumbarumba Rodeo. The interview consisted of being asked if I could ride to which I answered yes, and it was settled.
I have had a lot of good times here and have made many new friends. I’ve picked up a few more tricks too . . .
On a school holiday break in 2010 I decided to tag along with my dad’s work and come visit Liveringa Station for the first time. As soon as I experienced the lifestyle of the Kimberleys I was hooked and knew that as soon as I finished school I’d be back to work as a ringer. The Kimberleys was a whole new area of life I had never seen and was eager to experience.
I arrived at Liveringa on the 12th of March 2012 and was anticipant about the challenges that lay ahead. At this point I had just turned 17 and was not very solid in build. I remember getting given my saddle to ride in which was naturally too big and being told that I’d soon grow into it . . . it never happened! Throughout my year at Liveringa I learnt so many life skills and had many amazing experiences. I was able to meet the Kimberley community which I soon felt at home in through rodeos, picnic races and even a cricket match or two . . . I was able to learn skills such as driving small trucks, working cattle, riding breakers, and quickly learnt how to get myself out of bogged situations!
One of the best parts about my experience at Liveringa was living out at camp. The days always stretched on for a little longer and we all seemed a little more tired and sore but it was a very rewarding experience. It was a good lesson learnt to see how little we really need to live off and how many times and ways you can make your clothes stretch out for just a few more days!
I was sad to leave such a great lifestyle at the end of the season but all things must come to an end. This end was shortly postponed as I returned for a few months this year for some more work. Liveringa is a great station with a great family of people. I have been very lucky to have a boss like Jed as he has taught me so much. On one occasion he noticed how poor my chain sawing skills were so he spent the late afternoon in the heat teaching me. I was soon convinced we were going to chop down every tree in sight until I got it right! . . . I look forward to many more experiences like these visits and work in the Kimberleys, as it’s the best place to be!