Host: Yougawalla Station
Written by Andrea – Station Hand, Yougawalla Station.
“So what are you doing after graduation?”
“Um . . . err . . . I think I might go chase some cows.”
He looks at me in disbelief; I can see his brain ticking over. This girl has just spent four years at uni, written a thesis, and graduated with honours. She’s had an awesome scholarship and travelled around both the country and the world during her degree.
So as my fellow graduates were packing their bags this summer and moving across Australia to pursue big time careers or PhDs, I rolled up my swag, cleaned my boots, and moved 4000km from home to get my hands dirty, collect bruises, and run around in some crazy hot weather with lots and lots of cattle.
Hi, my name is Andrea, although to my friends I am Craigie, and I now call the remote confines of Yougawalla Station home. Before moving to the Kimberly in WA a little more than a month ago, I lived in Tasmania. My family have a farm near Devonport where we produce a range of vegetables, crops, livestock and cut flowers. But really, that sort of farm cannot be compared to cattle stations in northern Australia.
Like all young people as they finish school, at the end of year 12 I was faced with the choice of “what do I do now?” I was lined up to study medicine in Melbourne, but thankfully realised that wasn’t what would make me happy in the long run. I took a leap of faith and switched to enrol in a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at UTas.
Hind sight is a fabulous thing; looking back the decision to do AgSci was a natural progression and over the past four years I have really grown my passion for agriculture, particularly with the support of the Horizon Scholarship (If you know of any young person pursuing further education in a primary industry related field then encourage them to look it up, as it is truly a fantastic opportunity).
Coming to work on a cattle station has been a dream of mine since I left school. By the time I finished my second year of uni I was itching to get out of the classroom and have a “gap year” jillarooing. But instead my parents said (quite loudly) NO, and looking back perhaps I have to admit, however grudgingly, that they may have been right. For I love it out here, and going back to uni would have been pretty difficult and I would not have finished my degree yet either.
I spent last year reading and dreaming and thinking about ‘one day’. For all the posts I read on Central Station, I never thought that less than a year later I would be writing one of my own. Yes, perhaps in the cosy confines of ugg boots, track pants, and a Tasmanian winter I did romanticise the idea of being a jillaroo, but I mean come on, I was writing my thesis and (like any normal uni student) procrastination in any form was a welcome distraction. My head was, at times, filled with dreams of overnight becoming an excellent motorbike and horse rider, instantly shedding that 10kg which I acquired through uni, gaining a perfect tan, handling cattle which were as quiet and as used to human contact as our cows back at Mum and Dad’s place, and having a close by neighbouring station with plenty of attractive and gentlemanly cowboys.
Well, that didn’t happen.
I still struggle to trot on the horses and don’t even ask me to start the bike by myself. Yes my jeans are getting a bit looser, but I am far from fitting back into my old size 10. My tan is AWESOME – as long as you only look at my forearms and the V on my neck where work shirts don’t cover; the rest of me is pretty damn white. And it’s going to be a long time before the cattle here would let me pat them.
As for a nice boy living next door, well let me go for a two hour drive and I’ll let you know if I come across anyone.
My city softened hands have had a big shock as I handle barb wire, climb through metal yards that have baked in the sun all day, and bash my knuckles on things. I thought, and many of my girlfriends agreed, that I wasn’t really a city chick and that my bomby old Holden ute and cowgirl boots were sort of cool, but never something they’d be caught dead in. Yet in spite of that, while living in Hobart since 2010, I have, without realising, become quite accustomed to the weekly coffee dates with girlfriends, shopping, clubbing on the Salamanca waterfront, and enjoying life in town.
Even though I have grown to enjoy, and at times crave, the comforts of city living, it is a passion for agriculture that drives what I do with my life. The best thing I love about agriculture is the diversity; not only are there so many products that are grown, there are many more positions related to the production of each. There is so much you can do within agriculture and despite the busy four years I’ve had, I haven’t seen very much yet at all. Coming to work on a station is allowing me to experience another section of agriculture in Australia.
I am loving what I am doing right now; working for Haydn and Jane and learning so many new things, both practical skills for work and other things like living in such a remote location. I still have plenty to learn and my motorbike skills certainly leave something to be desired. But hopefully, one day soon I will be able to keep up with the boys well enough to be allowed on a bike when we go mustering.
From fixing fences and working in the yards, checking bores and running lick, I really do have a good job. From the short time I have been here so far I think working on a station if a fantastic thing to do, and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering it. Furthermore I would encourage any young person to consider a career in agriculture. There are so many opportunities for everyone, and not all involve ending the day covered in dust and sweat, although I wouldn’t have it any other way.