Tips for station newbies

Host: Miss Jodie
Written by Miss Jodie – Jill of All Trades, Northern Australia.

Editors note: The views reflected in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Central Station staff or other hosts associated with this website. This entry is genuine advice which has been written in good humor.

Are you headed north next year to start your first season on a station? If so, below is a list of things you need to know before you go.

Photo 1. Make the most of every opportunity! copyMake the most of every opportunity.

When I was considering how to write this blog, I thought to myself that I should really get some advice from some friends who regularly hire young people to work on stations, and the response I got back was overwhelming! So straight from the horses’ mouth, here are the things you need to know!

Before you apply:

  • A clear concise resume two pages only is a great start, but also be very courteous on the phone when you get a call – don’t call your potential future boss mate, bud etc. The first phone call is always the decider regardless of experience, education, or background.
  • Be aware of your Facebook page – no drug references, excessive boozing, or illegal activities.
  • Be enthusiastic, but not up yourself.
  • Don’t say you just want to give it a try and see how it goes, be committed.
  • Don’t swear on the phone.
  • We will always ring your references, so choose them wisely.
  • Be honest about your ability and what you’re keen to learn.
  • Make sure you have your documents sorted before you come up. Make sure you have your Tax File Number, bank account in your own name and access to that bank account, and also try to have some general understanding of what Superannuation is. It is nearly impossible to arrange these things from out in the middle of ‘nowhere’.
  • Forget about the dog. Whilst some places may let you have a dog in a few years, if you need a job and need one fast – leave the dog with mum and dad, or friends, or anyone. It may seem like a good idea at the time but not many places will let your dog just wander around. It will be tied up for days on end and when you are too tired to even lift a finger at the end of the day you will still need to trudge down the paddock to feed and water it. You will also need to find someone to look after it if you go away or fly home, etc.
  • If you haven’t secured a job yet – don’t mention pigging on your resume. It’s great that you have a hobby but we need to know you are going to do your job and not go racing across the paddock at the first sight of a pig. Just leave it off.
  • Try not to have a preconceived idea of what a jackeroo should be. Stay true to yourself. No need to convert to country music and claim to be a diehard Lee Kernaghan fan if you prefer Macklemore. Try not to buy into the whole ‘ringer’ attitude which is pushed on some social media sites. The best thing about stations is everyone has a story and everyone accepts each other’s life stories! Variety is the spice of life!
  • Don’t spend too much on work clothes. Get your shirts from Vinnies or on sale! Try to avoid the “decked out in RM from head to toe” look – it’s just a waste of money and looks a little pretentious.
  • Check the reputation of anyone you are looking at working for. It’s a small industry and it won’t take long to check them out! Make sure also that if you are looking at making this a long term career that there is career progression and training available with your employer.
  • When offered two jobs – make sure you compare all the details. Some will offer higher rate for only seasonal work, some may offer six or seven weeks annual leave, some may take money out each week for food and board. Make sure you understand exactly what you are signing up to.
  • It is not a necessity to have your own vehicle but if you do you will have more freedom. If you are extremely remote you will probably be on the station for extended periods of time – especially if you are relying on others for transport.

Photo 2. Moving the cows in the rotation paddocks as the sun is setting copyMoving the cows in the rotation paddocks as the sun is setting.

While packing your bags:

  • NOTEBOOK and pencil (Your local Landmark can take care of you there).
  • 5L esky water bottle with your name on it
  • Good Multivitamins
  • Staminade
  • Sunscreen
  • Bandanas
  • Aerogard
  • Condoms condoms condoms!
  • Girls: Hair ties! For goodness sakes tie your hair up properly and plait it! This is not McLeod’s Daughters!

Photo 3. Your camp will not always be air conditioned... pack aerogard copyYour camp will not always be air conditioned . . . pack aerogard!

About your attitude:

  • A willingness to work and the ability to LISTEN!! And ask questions if unsure.
  • Use your BRAIN! Think before you ACT!
  • Have some self-respect. Even if you are only here for one season people still remember that one person that gets around, wrecks gear, gets drunk all the time, and has no respect for others, etc.! You can still have fun! That’s what it’s all about!
  • You will get yelled at . . . take it in your stride, it happens to everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are having problems – personal or work related.
  • Don’t big note yourself . . . especially if you can’t actually follow through! . . . One day you WILL be given that rank horse!
  • Do not bitch/whinge/complain about the property/manager/workers that you work for/with to outside people . . . Northern Australia is not really that big . . . everyone knows everyone, one way or another!
  • You’re living in a small community so respect and consideration go a long way.
  • And finally- never ever say “but at __________ we do it like this . . .” because no-one cares! You are here now, do it the way you’re told!

Photo 4. Feeding weaners copyFeeding weaners.

On the station/in the stockcamp:

  • Drink plenty . . . and then drink some more
  • BEFORE BREAKFAST: wash face, comb and tie up hair, go to breakfast READY FOR WORK!
  • Eat even when it’s hot or you don’t feel like it.
  • Be neat and tidy, look after your gear – personal and work.
  • Learn how to use a washing machine . . . (you would be surprised how many can’t . . . )
  • Don’t leave your washing in the washing machine/laundry for a ridiculous amount of time and don’t use the clothesline as your wardrobe
  • If you make a mess of shared amenities, clean it!
  • Fornicating with your own workmates is incest . . . the neighbours aren’t too far away! (Please note: This is a direct quote from a well-respected couple who have been managing stations in the NT and Queensland for years!!)
  • Be nice to the cook!
  • Don’t expect to always get the good jobs. Everyone has to start somewhere!
  • Take lots of photos/videos, just don’t let it get in the way of your job! It will be an awesome memory you can hang onto forever!!

Advice on sex:

  • You are living in a small community, be careful where you throw your cat!
  • If sleeping in a tent at camp, be sure to turn the torch off! People can see you, well your shadow anyway!
  • Get an STI check every year at least, even if you’ve been ‘careful’

Photo 6. Keep laughing!! copyKeep laughing!

Final words of advice:

If you work hard, you will have a great time, learn some kick-butt skills and make friends that last a lifetime. Go for it.  Xo

Biggest thanks to the friends and colleagues who helped put this together! Cheers!