My outback journey – enviro to station life

Host: Rangeland Natural Resource Management
Written by Mary-Anne Clunies-Ross – Regional Landcare Facilitator, Rangelands NRM.

My journey into the big wide world of the outback started a few years ago working as an enviro during the mining boom. After a few years, I landed a job in Karratha with Rangelands NRM as my project partner. Together, we worked with pastoralists in the Pilbara, particularly those in the Fortescue River catchment. It was here that I delved into the wonderful world of landcare and pastoralism.

Coming from a non-agricultural background was a good eye opener and a great opportunity to see things from a totally different perspective. I had the opportunity to work with quite a few pastoralists in the Pilbara and learning about cattle and station life was very refreshing, plus native shrubs and grasses became a passion so it all worked together very nicely. Getting an eye in and reading the land, understanding different soil types, land condition, observing water flows, areas of erosion, and how to minimise or reduce these problems was great and still something that I am learning and interested in. I am also a bit of a birdo so going to new places and scouting around for new bird species tickles my fancy!

After my stint in Karratha, I shipped myself down to the Murchison region to live with my fella on Yowergabbie station. Having experienced cattle stations in the Pilbara and seeing the remnants of old shearing sheds and what was once a thriving northern sheep industry made me appreciate life on a working sheep station. I also started a new job with Rangelands NRM working as a Regional Landcare Facilitator where I worked with a suite of different pastoral and biosecurity groups helping to deliver all types of workshops, conferences, and training as well as undertaking trials.

I am grateful for my time up north as I had a chance to soak up so much valuable information and understand things from a northern pastoralists perspective. Now, having lived in the southern rangelands for a few years I can appreciate the challenges that some of these southern squatters face and the need to rebuild what was once a thriving wool industry.

Four years on and one baby later (Percy), I’m still living the dream on a station, and working with Rangelands NRM. It has been very humbling working with pastoralists and even though I don’t get out as much as I use too I still appreciate that what I do contributes (in a very small way) to the bigger agricultural picture.

Mary-Anne (Mez) Clunies-Ross

Percy’s first campfire.

Greening Australia days.

Yowergabbie Station time.