NSW to NT to SA

Host: Callanna Station
Written by Lucy Goldspink

I grew up on a sheep and cropping farm in Central West NSW. As long as I can remember I grew up working side by side with parents and my brothers. There are memories of Dad and I feeding ewes the very last of the lupins for that year, because there wasn’t a blade of grass left. I was so small I had to stand on the seat to see over the steering wheel. Dad put the car in low range and told me to steer (and to not bloody hit anything), so he could stand on the back and feed the grain out. That’s my earliest memory. My parents instilled a passion in me for living on the land and working with animals.

Me in the sheep yards as a little girl.

Dad & I taking his new XR400 for a spin, with my shiny new helmet!

After I finished school, I moved to Elkedra Station in the NT as a governess. I was there for 2 years, and in that time, there was laughter, friendships, love, heartbreak and love again. As much as I enjoyed being in the school room with my little mate Sonny, I jumped at every chance to get out and about. I would happily give up my weekends off just to jump in the bullcatcher with Amber or John and muster the lane. If I was really lucky I got to drive one myself! It was another world. 1 chopper, 2 choppers, bullcatchers, quads and thousands of cattle in the yards. Elkedra is my home away from home, the Driver family are a huge light in my life and take you in as their own. I haven’t met a person who has worked there who doesn’t feel the same way.

Amber, Sonny & Ruben playing at the homestead.

Yarding up with a mob of feral donkeys on the tail.

At the end of my 2 years there I toddled off to Uni because, well, what else do you do after you’ve had a couple of gap years? By this time, I had found love again but decided I was going to continue with Uni and we would make it work by distance. Let me tell you, it was the hardest year of my life! Sounds sappy, I know. But when your 20 and in love, that’s all you can think about!

We made it through, I finished my 1st year on campus and then moved to the SA desert the day after my last exam for the year. I moved to Callanna Station where Anne and George Morphett generously took me in. I began working with my partner Tom (or Morph as many know him), as a contract musterer and yard builder around Marree (near Lake Eyre) and up the Birdsville Track. I sold my car for cash and in the same breath bought myself a Honda CRF 230. Thank goodness we never broke up in that time because there’s no way that all of my stuff would have fit in a backpack if he sent me packing!

My bike, my pride and joy!

I continued with my degree, and it was difficult trying to find the work/life/study balance. There were multiple times when I wanted to quit Uni because logistics were so difficult. Often we would be away mustering when I had big assessments due and exams to complete. This was before each place has WiFi and even for some, internet access which made it even harder. Being out at camp was the hardest of all, I would be working long hard days, and at night stress about the fact that I can’t get on my computer to see if I have missed any important emails about assignments. Graduating in 2016 was a welcomed relief after 2 years of doing my degree by distance.

In the last 4 and a bit years Tom has taught me so many things. He taught me how to handle cattle gently and calmly, how to fix pipelines, how to service bikes, how to weld and even how to design an efficient cattle yard from scratch. The list goes on. I had the basics, but he has helped in shaping me into a confident and capable woman.

I’m lucky, we spend SO much time together. We live and work together 24 hours a day. You know how there’s times in your life or your day even where you just feel happy? For me, those times happen when we are in between salt lakes and sandhills mustering. When we are on our bikes chasing the plane or chopper and they are taking us to a stray mob. When we spend all day just us walking a mob of cows and calves around the edge of a salt lake. When we are branding calves, or drafting together and we don’t need to speak to know what’s next. Of course, there are tough times. But like anything you need to look forward and think of the good times past and present to get through it. I’m grateful for all the experiences I’ve had so far and happy I’ve found someone that I can live life with; even if it means getting mildly electrocuted holding a rail so that Tom can weld it!

Tom & I out mustering.

Aerial shot of my ‘happy’ place- Sandhills and salt lakes!

My birthday in 2016, spelling cattle and us having a rest because it was too hot to continue.

Tom in the Crow’s Nest.

A photo from ‘Wander of the West’.