Shipped off to the big smoke!

Host: Yeeda Pastoral
Written by Minna Burton – Owner, Yeeda Pastoral.

G’day my name is Minna Burton and I’m from Yeeda Pastoral.

My parents Jack and Vicki Burton are the owners of Yeeda and brought me and my brother William up on the land and taught us to love it as much as they do.

I’ve always been a keen station hand, running alongside my Dad helping him in every way, from handing him spanners while he’s under a ute to sitting beside him in the chopper spotting cattle.

There are so many things that make me love the country life: the early mornings and late nights, camping under the stars, the helicopter flying, the yard work, horse riding, and the bull catching – not to mention the people!

My whole life I’ve grown up and lived around blokes of all measures, ringers, bore men, chopper pilots, truck drivers, and even cowboys (and yes they do come under a different heading).

 1Me and Dad.

So maybe you can imagine the culture shock I got when sent off to an all-girls school in suburbia Perth!

Apparently swearing was actually only meant to be said in the yard, blowing your nose out of one nostril was totally unacceptable (even when outside), jeans didn’t cover every dress code, and hats were a fashion statement rather than a lifesaving component.

I mean heck, talk about life changing. In order to survive this chapter of my life, I was going to have to make some large changes. First thing I learnt was that the girls I went to school with weren’t the blokes – don’t talk to them about home stuff, they just wouldn’t understand.

This rule changed not only my life but the rest of the Yeeda crews as well, as I was constantly on the phone to our truck drivers and chopper pilot making sure they were working hard in my absence and finding out what was going on, and then I’d talk to dad that night and fill him in (on anything he may have missed) on the day from 2500 km away. “Yeah Dad, muster went well today, the boys said there were a few good bulls too, going to be flat out drafting, processing, and trucking them to get them to town in time for the boat. Maybe I should come home to help, since you’re short of hands? They are on their last drum of Avgas by the way, should probably get one of the fellas to shoot to town to get some more before we muster again on Thursday”.

In my first years of school I think I stretched a few friendships with my 24/7 need to know, not that much has changed really, I think the crew is just used to it; this is where I inherited the nickname Miss Boss.

 2My birthday present from a couple of the blokes.

Presbyterian Ladies College (PLC) would definitely not have been my first choice if I had had a say in where I went to boarding school, in fact it’s probably safe to say it wouldn’t have even made the short list, but like good parents should, they wanted me to have the best education in order to give me all the opportunities that the big wide world has to offer.

PLC finds it has to accept that I, unlike the rest of my cohort, do not wish to go to university, do not wish to take a gap year and travel to other countries to volunteer in an orphanage, and do not wish to get a part time job, while I live at home waiting to become a bachelor of a degree.

I want to live a “gap life” (as my dad often refers to it as) a life where the way you succeed is to watch, listen, and slowly learn.

Producing beef to feed the world is what I want to do, and although people might not realise it, it is just as important a job as a brain surgeon or a Prime Minister.

The day to day life is what really hooks me, the satisfaction of the hard work, the blood, the sweat, and when I have to go back to school, the tears! Working alongside people who are from all walks of life and have somehow found themselves in the bush loving the station life like I do.

3Delphine the station cook and me.

Anyway, after my first three years of boarding school I got into the swing of it more. I started enjoying the school side of things and the sport, although nothing quite met the adrenaline spike that bull catching offered, I stuck with some winter sports that near on killed me! Perth winters are pretty different to Kimberley winters! I got better at making friends with girls once I realised that unlike the blokes they didn’t care who rode the most bulls or had the most buckles!

I feel a bit like Hannah Montana, like I live two lives that do not cross, with two separate wardrobes that still to this day have not crossed (and never will!).

I like to talk about riding my horses with the girls from school because even though dressage and camp drafting are different, I still get to talk to the girls about something we mutually love.

4Minna riding Nelly.

My plans for the future are probably quite predictable especially after reading this blog. Never the less, I have 127 days, 10 hours and 32 minutes until Yeeda Pastoral becomes my full time employer for the rest of this year and the 2016 season at Springvale Station (North of Hall’s Creek). After that, I hope to travel around and work on different stations across the top end of Australia, gaining experience and as much knowledge as possible. Then one day, much to my mum’s horror I hope to take to the skies as a mustering helicopter pilot, the best job in the industry if you ask me.

5 Grace, Minna, and Amy at the Year 12 ball.

And now that I am nearly finished school, I can look back on my time away and say that it was worth the pain of being away from home. I’ve made great friends that I know will stick with me for the long run and that the opportunities I have had are once in a lifetime and if anything it has proved to my family and I where it is I want to be and where I will enjoy my life the most, back outback.