Should I go up north?

Written by Emma Moss

“Where are you from?”

I have never noticed until someone pointed it out to me. If people stand around in a group and introduce themselves, the way they say where they’re from is often said in a muttering tone like a side thought. It’s a bit like the town they’re from is insignificant, just a throw-away word. I was a repeat offender of this and now I’m a bit ashamed to say. I’ve always had a passion for agriculture but was never from a massive property or a place far away from town. I used to wish like anything I was, I even went through a stage of avoiding saying where I was from, thinking that I would immediately be disregarded. Southbrook is just a small town west of Toowoomba but by no means is it a country town ‘way out west’. I thought that because of that, people may not accept me as someone who could be passionate about Ag, or that they me immediately write me off.

Hi, I’m Emma Moss and I’m from SOUTHBROOK, about 30 mins west of Toowoomba, QLD. Now, I am happy to say that with pride. You know what, where we’re from has shaped us to be who we are. I’ve learnt that we need to own that – I guess really, we need to own ourselves.

Walking up from the dam.

I was very intimidated and nervous when wanting to go on a cattle station for my gap year. Compared to ‘up north’ I was pretty well a towny. Would I be ‘country’ enough? I’ve learnt after talking to many people that it doesn’t actually matter where you’re from. If you’ve got the right attitude to learn, listen, ask questions and have a go – your foot is in the door. You have to remember that there are people from properties/stations that want to be lawyers in the city. So regardless of where you’re from, that’s shaped you and the direction you’re going.

I still applied to go up north despite my apprehension about many things. I’m very glad that I did. To my surprise, when I got up there I found that people were from all walks of life. Some grew up on stations and don’t know any other worlds, but most are from so many different worlds. Some became cooks in their 30s after leaving their husband and haven’t moved, others have been ringing since they were 14 when they left school, others worked their way up to be a manager, some worked for other large companies before making the move to manager, some were backpackers from various countries and others, like me, were having a gap year (or two).

Driving to Nerrima.

Going up north resulted in me taking paths in my life that I never even imagined. Early in 2016, I bought a secondhand camera from the cook. I thought it would be nice to take some better quality pictures of the world that took me about 3 weeks to fall in love with. After posting some of the pictures on Facebook, I decided to make an Instagram called Life On A Station. With the aim to show people what went on. After all, when I went up, I didn’t really know what to expect because I hadn’t really seen many pictures.

Nerrima gateway.

Nearly 2 years and 15.5k followers later, I have had many opportunities I never would have otherwise had. The best thing though, has been the opportunity to be a speaker, connect and network with people from all walks of life. I get messages from people who are retired ringers, people from the city wanting to know what branding means, and animal activists – but majority are people wondering whether or not they should go up north.

The first photo I took with my camera.

I don’t have a standard response as each message varies, but in an industry always looking for keen workers I have a few key things I like to say.

  • It’s not McLeod’s daughters. There’s a funny article by the Betoota Advocate that, although taking the mickey, it is quite relevant. It’s hard work and long days most of the time. You have to push yourself, most likely a lot more than you’ve ever had to.

First sunset.

  • Attitude it everything. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter how much experience you’ve had or how much Heartland you’ve watched. You’ve got to want to learn. Ask, watch and listen to anyone and everyone. In time you’ll develop your own ways and opinions but don’t think there’s ever a person who can’t teach you anything. The day you stop learning is the day you die.
  • I also commonly get asked what jeans, boots, hat etc should I wear? Well I worried about all things too. But I’ve realized that at long as they’re practical for the job and you feel comfy, it doesn’t matter. Your mates certainly shouldn’t care. In fact I don’t think what you wear defines who you are, it’s an expression of who you are. I’d prefer friends any day that take me just the way I am.
  • The hardest lesson for me to learn was that I was going to make mistakes. I think we can be a bit sheltered at school and even uni sometimes. But we will inevitably make mistakes. I was notorious for being way too hard on myself and I’m still improving. But I used to beat myself up so badly until I was told something that will stick with me forever. “You’re not a dickhead for mucking up, you’re just a dickhead if you don’t learn from it”

  • Lastly, be respectful. You’re entering into some peoples’ worlds that this is their whole lives. It’s their income, their passion, their family and their community. You may be going for just a year or two but it’s important to think beyond that. Don’t think that just because you won’t be at that station the next year that you shouldn’t do that fence properly. Or it’s doesn’t matter how I treat this vehicle because I won’t be here to drive it next year

If you’re up for the challenge, willing to back yourself and wanting to push yourself, going to work up north is joining an amazing community and becoming part of something bigger. You’ll suddenly be surrounded by people all with a common interests and mutual respect for each other. If you think you’ve got the right attitude and want to experience the amazing lifestyle, TRY IT!