The year that was

Host: Yougawalla Station
Written by: Jane Sale – Manager, Yougawalla Pastoral Company.

First and foremost to all the 2013 hosts that brought a huge interest and following to Central Station in its inaugural year, thank-you. Stephanie and I are overwhelmed by your support, your honesty in your writing, and your precious time to do so. Those that have followed us from the start or those of you who may have only just tuned in, even if you pop in on us every now and then, thank-you for the time you take to read about what we do.

This year we have an incredible line up of hosts and the year is full. You will read about how everyone from last year is fairing after what should have been a wet season up North. You will read about how the feedlotting and cattle industry in Indonesia is progressing and you will meet a lot of new people and their passions. As we have endeavoured to do from the start you will be reading about the people on the ground, with the knowledge, that choose to live their lives looking after and improving the welfare of cattle and other animals. We are talking the talk and walking the walk.

I am sure we will be moved to tears, as I was many times last year when reading and hopefully shed a few having a belly laugh too. You’re stuck with me to get the ball rolling on 2014 blogging season and I just wanted to start by saying thank-you.

photoMargaret River.

Since we last blogged in June 2013 Yougawalla Pastoral Company have purchased a new Pastoral Lease, Margaret River Station. This is a truly spectacular area of land that we consider ourselves very lucky to have under our management. We spent some very enjoyable times last year exploring this beautiful area of land rich in beauty and history. The property has three rivers, The Margaret, The Laura, and the Mary Rivers running through as well as the Great Northern Highway so it is our least remote property now. We have welcomed a fantastic new staff member, Merv. He was thrown in at the deep end and has done a great job looking after the place and getting to know the ropes over there.

Derby Picnic RacesDerby Picnic Races.

In September with a few of our crew we went along to the annual Derby Picnic Races for the first time. Margaret River Station traditionally sponsors one of the races on the day so we thought it was a great idea to continue this tradition. This is a strictly station horse and riders racing event. Like the rodeos and campdrafts up here it was great to see the skill of the riders competing . . . We had no horses or horsemen to enter but Eric, one of our stockmen joined in on the Ringers Footrace and the kids in the junior footrace. We all had a ball. The kids had a lot of their School of the Air mates there to play with and we drove away promising ourselves we would make the effort to go to more events next year. Not such an easy task with the distance and when the mustering season is in full swing we’ll have to see what 2014 brings.

Derby Picnic Races - Ringers FootraceRingers’ Footrace.

Derby Picnic Races - Junior FootraceJunior Footrace.

If you are a follower of the Central Station blogs you would probably have gathered from last years blogs, life on the Station is all consuming. Most of the staff are seasonal, after they put in a hard season in the stockcamp they usually head away on a break. Having a break is a necessity for people that are surrounded by their work 24/7 but a lot of the people that own and operate their own stations don’t always have that luxury. Last year was a very trying year for us here at Yougawalla. Some of the busy times are caused by self-inflicted projects but most of the trying periods have been a result of the ongoing spending cuts in staff, stores, and general machinery and infrastructure maintenance necessary since our markets have been so badly effected from the Live Export Ban of 2011. Our fabulous skeleton crew got us through but all of these cuts accumulate and make work physically harder with longer hours and general emotional well-being a lot harder to maintain.

At the end of the year the kids and I were able to head South and have some time away for a few months. Leaving Haydn behind for this long is the down side to this, but it’s a great opportunity for the kids to do a lot of socialising and a chance to experience things that they don’t get to do on Station. We went to Victoria where Haydn and my families’ reside. In between catching up with family, friends, and kids their own age, Gus and Tilly did a two week sports camp learning the skills and rules of just about every sport and most importantly team sports. They also did a one week drama course and presented a play to all the parents at the end of it. All of these things I hope is teaching them a few life skills that they don’t get here on the station and with their one on one teaching in School of the Air.

Gus and Cousin Evie invited on Stage - The Little book of Everything - Melbourne Theatre CompanyGus and Cousin Evie invited on Stage – The Little Book of Everything – Melbourne Theatre Company.

Gus & Tilly After their performanceGus and Tilly After their Performance.

Unfortunately with technology the way it is, I can’t get away from all the administration work I had to catch up on and of course ordering stores for those that are still at home looking after things. But being able to catch up with friends and family and to spend time doing different fun things with the kids and watching their excitement and wonderment at each new experience is really special.

Hanging with Mum at Cape SchanckHanging with Mum – Cape Schanck.

Boating with Stan on Gippsland LakesBoating with Stan.

Seeing trams, trains, buses, and especially the garbage trucks were all reasons for very loud exclamation from the kids. They held up the Aussie Post lady outside my Mum’s house for about ten minutes one day asking her all about her mail route and explaining that, disappointingly, they don’t get to have a mail box because their mail comes by plane in a big sack.

Making friends at Santa's Magical KingdomMaking Friends at Santa’s Magical Kingdom.

So we were lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family to house hop for a couple of months and a few visits from Haydn in between when he had the chance to leave the stations. Most people with kids would understand though that after that length of time moving around with kids we were very ready to head home.

Heading home is always an adventure in itself . . .